It has been speculated for some time that Michael Vick, of whom you’ve heard, is apt to play in the UFL before he returns to the NFL. The UFL, as you might not know, stands for the United Football League, a start-up that includes all of four teams.
On ESPN.com, Pat Yasinskas speculates that Vick would most likely land in Orlando. (The other three franchises are based in New York/Hartford, Los Angeles/Las Vegas and Sacramento/San Francisco. If this sounds confusing, here’s a fine explanation of the UFL from Ted Fleming on the Tampa Bay Sports Examiner.)
Yasinskas’ reasoning: The UFL operates on a regional basis, and Orlando would get dibs on anyone who has played in the NFC South. Also: Orlando is coached by Jim Haslett, who worked against Vick while coaching the Saints and who worked with Vick’s cousin Aaron Brooks in New Orleans.
In Fleming’s story, Haslett is quoted thusly: “I know Michael personally, playing against him and spending time with him and I think he is a pretty good kid. Obviously, his values were a bit different than mine or yours. To make a long story short, out of the four cities, I think this would be the city that would be the best to accept him and give him that second chance.”
And would Vick be welcome in the UFL? According to Vinny DiTrani on NorthJersey.com, league commissioner Michael Huyghue posed that question on the UFL Web site and 80 percent of respondents “were positive about the prospect.”
In DiTrani’s story, Huyghue is quoted as saying: “Of course there were some very strong negative reactions from animal-rights people.” Also: “He could come to our league and play six games and get some of that rust off. It could help his entry back into the NFL.” Also: “We don’t want to become known as a renegade league.”
The UFL plans to kick off in October. It will play its six-game regular season on Thursday and Friday nights. Thursday games will be televised on Versus, which is the channel that does the NHL (and which nobody can ever find). Its championship game will be staged Thanksgiving weekend.
And what, you’re asking, is the Orlando team’s nickname? As best I can tell, it doesn’t yet have one. (It will, we know, play its home games in the Citrus Bowl, the winter residence of the Georgia Bulldogs.) And who would be Orlando’s quarterback if Vick doesn’t participate? According to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel, it could be the legendary Quinn Gray, who’s a former Jacksonville Jaguar backup.
From Peter King of SI.com: “The UFL will have a per-team salary cap of $20 million, with most quarterbacks making between $1 million and $4 million a year.”
Questions, as you’d guess, remain. Wouldn’t the Falcons have to release Vick before he could play football in another league? (Absolutely.) Would terms of his probation allow him to move from Virginia to work? (Maybe.) And, should he play in the UFL and play well, would some NFL team be tempted to add him for its stretch drive? (A definite maybe.)
But here, from Clark Judge of CBSsports.com, is Huyghue’s stance on Vick: “To the extent that Michael Vick becomes available, we will look very closely into bringing him into our league — not only because our fan-survey poll was abundantly in favor of allowing him to come back but because we think it might be the right kind of buffer for a player like that to go back to the NFL.”