It’s only a bookkeeping detail. But it’s a significant detail.
No more looking at the bottom of the roster and seeing, “Suspended. Michael Vick. QB.”
No more questions to the owner or the general manager or the coach, “So, when are you going to trade Michael Vick?”
No more discussion about the implausible but lingering possibility that owner Arthur Blank would somehow change his mind and still bring back the quarterback who both saved the Falcons’ franchise but then leveled it – at least by the small percentage of people who still wear No. 7 jerseys, scream his name and hold a candle for him.
Goodbye, Michael Vick. Finally.
I’m all for his return – somewhere else.
I’m all for him rehabilitating his image and his life and reviving his career – somewhere else.
He has served his time. He has thought about where he went wrong and where he needs to go from here. Now comes the really hard part: Doing things correctly. But he couldn’t do it here. Blank was never going to allow it. That was clear to most clear-thinking individuals even before he made that official publicly several months back, even before Matt Ryan was drafted, even before Matt Ryan turned into something even greater than expected.
Blank writes his office e-mails in red. The man who writes in red e-mails was lied to — and he doesn’t like being lied to. Blank also knew that for every dollar he made if he brought Vick back by selling jerseys and season tickets to Vick fans, he would lose far more dollars because of the fans who would leave and the corporate sponsorships that would go away.
And did I mention he was lied to?
Vick forever will have a strong connection to Atlanta. People will remember the greatness and the tragedy. There was a time when he lit up this city. There was a time when he united it. There was a time when he divided it. Some would have you believe he divides it still.
But his actual connections to the franchise are drying up. The head coaches he played for, Dan Reeves and Jim Mora, are long gone. The general manager who ran the franchise the year Vick took the Falcons took the NFC title game, Rich McKay, now holds a non-football position with the team. Vick never shook hands on a deal with the current general manager, Thomas Dimitroff. He never played for the current coach, Mike Smith.
Vick’s strongest remaining connection is Blank. And Blank didn’t want him.
Blank, McKay and Dimitroff have been planning for this separation for two years, playing out scenarios with the salary cap and then ultimately drafting Ryan. The Falcons would have liked to get a draft pick for Vick in trade. But this is the NFL. Trades for players who logically are on the verge of being released don’t happen very often, unless there’s a market. Right now at least, there’s no market for Vick.
Think about that for a minute: There’s no market for Michael Vick.
“We spent a significant amount of time this off-season trying to trade him to another NFL club,” Dimitoff said, “and we had some conversations with a few teams, but nothing materialized. At this point, we feel releasing Michael is best for him and best for us. Our entire organization sincerely hopes that Michael will continue to focus his efforts on making positive changes in his life, and we wish him well in that regard.”
Vick has been out of the Falcons’ plans for some time. Now he is officially off the books.
It’s a detail. But a significant detail. It’s easier to move on when there’s no name on the roster.