As of today, Michael Vick will no longer be in federal custody. The obvious and much-debated question: What’s next? The non-answer: Nobody knows.
In Sporting News Today, Albert Breer breaks down the now-familiar issues and Vinny Iyer lists six NFL teams that might be willing to hire Vick. (San Francisco, Miami, Jacksonville, Washington, Oakland, Seattle.) Two weeks ago Sports Illustrated, in an article by L. Jon Wertheim and Jack McCallum, examined the bigger picture: Hasn’t Vick already paid a higher price than most erring athletes?
But a key question can only be answered by Vick: Is it more important for him to play quarterback as he once played quarterback or to play in the NFL? Because those aren’t necessarily the same things anymore.
Vick’s best chance to find quick NFL employment might be to agree to serve as a designated implementer of the Wildcat formation. (This assumes Roger Goodell clears Vick to play, which the guess here is that he will soon enough.) If nothing else, it would change the loaded dynamics for the team doing the hiring: The club could say, “We know all about Vick’s crimes and his reputation, but we didn’t sign him to be our No. 1 quarterback — he’s here to play a supporting role.”
The Vick I used to know — I haven’t talked with him in more than two years, as you might guess — would have rejected such a notion. He considered himself a pure, if stylized, quarterback. He vented to me in the locker room at Miami in 2005 after one of his finest passing performances, saying:
“I’m not just one thing. I can throw, and I can also run. I’ve got another way of beating you — is that my fault? … People forget I passed for almost 3,000 yards in ‘02 — I was 60 yards short [66, to be precise]. I’ve got in it me, man. But sometimes I come out and I’m not accurate, and that’s on me … People say I can’t throw the ball from the pocket. I’m not trying to prove anything to the world because I know what I can do. … I feel like I answered [the question] today, and I don’t ever want to hear it again.”
Indeed, that summer Vick had been featured on cover of Sports Illustrated proclaiming: “I AM a quarterback.” And I understand how deeply this issues matters — or mattered — to him. But I’m wondering if a guy of tarnished reputation in search of a job can make demands. I’m wondering if the best course wouldn’t be to work his way back into the league gradually.
I’m thinking that, for Michael Vick’s next life, being a ‘Cat might be the logical next step. But maybe that’s just me.
Here’s a good story by Charles Odum — he’s based in Atlanta — of the Associated Press, in which Josh Childress claims the reason he’s headed back to play in Greece for Olympiakos was because the Hawks played “hardball” with him this summer and he ran out of time to make any sort of sign-and-trade deal with another NBA team. More Childress:
“The Hawks were definitely in my scope. I spent four years there. I’m familiar with the team and the organization. I’m familiar with the city. I still have a home there. I think it just came down to whether or not I felt like negotiations would move forward with them. I really didn’t, just being quite honest …
“I just think there needs to be some kind of agreement where both parties meet in the middle. This idea of hardball is kind of old. I’m not the type of guy that’s gonna bad mouth and do all the other things. I’ve kind of been the kind of guy who wants to move forward and get something done.”
Having said all that, Childress also said he’d be open to returning to the Hawks — they’ll still hold his rights next summer — for the 2010-11 season. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
From Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com comes this post from the Peach Jam, a summer camp in Augusta, Ga. Goodman writes that guard Iman Shumpert had issues with Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt last season. “I thought I had all the answers,” Goodman quotes Shumpert as saying. “Last season definitely humbled me because I didn’t adapt to the college game.”
Also this: ““I changed [my free-throw routine to suit Tech's coaches], but I wasn’t happy about it. Coach Hewitt and I battled about stupid stuff.”
From Fran Fraschilla, an ESPN.com Insider, comes this about Shumpert (link requires registration): “If Georgia Tech turns it around, Shumpert will be the key reason why. He should make a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore season.”
The key reason? Maybe not. From Jeff Fox of Slam Online comes a look at the top 10 prospects for the 2010 NBA draft: No. 2 is Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech, behind only John Wall of Kentucky.
It appears Paul Hewitt, surely through some oversight, has failed to bookmark this ol’ blog on his computer. According to esteemed former colleague Jeff D’Alessio, who’s now at Sporting News Today, Hewitt’s favorite bookmarks are: FoxSports.com, ESPN.com, SI.com and CNN.com. (Thanks to reader Tony Tate for the tip on this one.)
And now my tip to Mr. Hewitt: It’s http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/. You can even make it your home page!