Will Vick Ever Play in the NFL Again?

The question being asked by people both inside and outside the NFL on the morning after Michael Vick agreed to plead guilty to the federal dogfighting charges against him is this:

Will Vick ever play in the NFL again?

Here's one view: It's too soon to know.

Vick is probably headed to prison for a year or more based on this plea agreement. He still could face state charges, and the NFL likely will suspend him. The Atlanta Falcons could release him. The easy thing to say this morning is that the 27-year-old quarterback won't play another NFL game, and there are plenty of people in and around the league who think that. What team, they wonder, could ever justify the signing of Vick to its fans?

But no one knows what the landscape will be in two or three or four years. Vick's every move in recent months has been scripted by lawyers and handlers. At some point, he will be free to say what he wants without being warned against it, and at that point he could choose to ask the public to forgive him. If he does, he might get that forgiveness or he might not. Things change over time. Perceptions change. People's thinking changes. This is not to say that Michael Vick definitely will play again in the NFL. But do we really know yet that he won't?

There certainly was a lively discussion here yesterday about Vick, so please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on this issue.

By Mark Maske |  August 21, 2007; 9:29 AM ET  | Category:  Falcons , League
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Comments

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First!

Posted by: Fairfax | August 21, 2007 10:03 AM

I agree that it's too early to tell. I'm sure that he'll get released by the Falcons, and that most teams won't touch him. But some team in a couple of years, maybe more will be desperate enough to take a flyer on him.

Of course that'll be defendant on what the NFL does to him.

Can he try to recover in the CFL? Will they let a felon across the border?

Posted by: Kim | August 21, 2007 10:31 AM

Prisoners around the country are thinking back to "The Longest Yard" and telling themselves "that's going to be us!"

Posted by: Tom T. | August 21, 2007 10:33 AM

"Of course that'll be defendant on what the NFL does to him."

Nice Freudian slip, Kim. :)

Posted by: Voice of Reason | August 21, 2007 10:34 AM

No, someone so incredibly viscious and stupid should not be allowed to play in the NFL again.

Posted by: rb | August 21, 2007 10:45 AM

ooops. Nice catch VoR.

Posted by: Kim | August 21, 2007 11:01 AM

rb,

The NFL is like Congress or Hollywood -- if we eliminate the vicious and stupid, there'll be hardly anyone left.

Posted by: tomtildrum | August 21, 2007 11:03 AM

tomtildrum,

Or maybe the ones who are left will be deserving of the attention and riches bestowed upon them. There are 1696 pro athletes in the US who can use the money they make in the NFL to support their families and be positive influences in their communities. They may not be quite as athletically gifted, but that's okay. If the playing field is level the competition will be just as entertaining.

If you think Michael Vick is irreplaceable, think again!

If Vick is allowed back in the NFL after 24 months or so, I will quit following NFL football.

Posted by: rb | August 21, 2007 11:35 AM

"Deja Vu all over again". As a kid, I witnessed the glee with which so many around me pronounced the end of Muhammed Ali's career as he went to prison. Granted, there's a world of difference between Vick's felonious activities & Ali's choice to do time rather than compromise his principles, but the mob mentality surrounding Vick is disturbingly familiar.
Ali retained his integrity, returned and became legend. Vick may yet find his integrity and atonement. Or, he may not. My crystal ball's in the shop; I can't say how it will go.

Posted by: pF | August 21, 2007 11:57 AM

Unfortunately,

Vick will probably play in the league again. Truth be told, he is arguably the most exciting player the league has ever seen and the NFL knows this. So exciting, the NFL cannot and will not give him up. He is just too valuable. Right now, the NFL is plotting their plan to get him back on the field with as little public relations backlash as possible.

In that vein, get ready to see the true "business" side of the NFL in the coming months/year. They will bash Vick publicly, condemn his actions and comment on how terrible he is. However, this will INSTANTLY stop when Vick could potentially be eligible to play again. When Vick gets out of jail, the NFL PR engine will soon begin. They will plant seeds everywhere stressing how Vick may deserve another chance, how he is sorry for what transpired, how he paid his dues to society and how truly forgiving the NFL is. Its a win/win situation for them. Public buy in = Vick plays with little public opinion backlash. Public doesn't buy in and the NFL will just throw him under the bus...again and be seen has strict on player conduct.

I am definitely NOT saying that Vick's actions should go unpunished. They should and have. However, I do think that the NFL is salivating at the potential profits and perception gain they can get from this whole ordeal. Mark my words, Vick's misfortune will ultimately be the NFL's gain. Sadly enough, the NFL could really care less about Vick. Goodell gives a crap about him, he cares about the league. Arthur Blank gives a crap about Vick, he only cares about his team. In the NFL, the reality is that players are commodities, sold and resold for gain. Everyone knows this. They are objects used for entertainment. In an NFL game, human players are maimed, paralyzed, severely injured and they even suffer the most horrific fate, death. Bets are made, teams are owned, businesses thrive. Sounds a lot like a dogfight, just with a legitimate market.

Posted by: Tony | August 21, 2007 12:11 PM

I think this is the biggest no-brainer ever. Assuming he get out of prison healty...OF COURSE he will play in the NFL again. There will be more than 1 team who would offer him a minimum/no bonus/no risk contract to return punts/play slot WR/ or RB. He'll probably never be a starting QB, but there's no doubt whatsoever that he'll suit up in the NFL again. What else is he going to do? He's not going to get a TV gig...he's not going back to VT to finish his degree...he's not going to law school or pre-med. Football is really all he CAN do. Just my .02

Posted by: Of Course | August 21, 2007 12:17 PM

Guess what? Another "brother" done in by the system. No,just kidding, the article by Micheal Wilbon says it all. A feeling of invulnerability from the potential consequences coupled with a basic personal insecurity that drove him to "hang" with the hometown hoods to prove his street "creds" were his undoing. As a Hokie alumni,and believing that MV was "the" exception to the rule, I'm now cynically bound to feel the same way I did when I found out that there was no Santa Claus. If the "fatal trap of fame" can bring MV down, then all of the sports stars are vulnerable. (Except for Peyton Manning, of course). Or, was the Mr.Hyde to his public Dr. Jekyll always there and just better hidden that most?

Posted by: HoHo Hokie | August 21, 2007 1:27 PM

Tony,

Goddell's job is to protect the league, not Michael Vick. If you believed otherwise, you were naive.

Since Goodell has staked his entire career as NFL Commissioner on enforcing a player conduct policy, he has no choice but to ban Vick for life, especially after Vick lied to him about his involvement.

And, actually, I believe Arthur Blank did give a crap about Vick; it's Vick that didn't give a crap about the Falcon fans, his own family, Arthur blank, etc. because he let them all down.

Dear Of Course,

Just because football is all Vick can do doesn't mean the NFL has to let him play football in their league. There are limits to how many chances you get; opportunities are not limitless just because you can run around with a football. Guess what: Sometimes you really can screw things up permanently.

Posted by: rb | August 21, 2007 1:38 PM

Guess what? Another "brother" done in by the system. (Just kidding!!) The article by Micheal Wilbon of SI hits to the heart of the subject and analyzes the situation perfectly. A feeling of invulnerability from the potential consequences coupled with a basic personal insecurity that drove him to "hang" with the hometown hoods to prove his street "creds" were his undoing. As a Hokie alumni,and believing that MV was "the" exception to the rule, I've now cynically come to the conclusion that all of our heroes have dirty laundry just waiting to bob to the surface. (Except for Peyton Manning, of course). The primary question is this: was he turned to the "dark" side of the force by his neer-do-well entourage or was the Mr.Hyde to his public Dr. Jekyll persona always there and just better hidden than most?

Posted by: HoHo Hokie | August 21, 2007 1:38 PM

"I am definitely NOT saying that Vick's actions should go unpunished. They should and have. However, I do think that the NFL is salivating at the potential profits and perception gain they can get from this whole ordeal."

And what, pray tell, are those, Tony? I hardly think that peoples' perception of the NFL has improved based on the fact that one of it's most heavily-promoted stars has admitted to an ugly and brutal crime. Moreover, if Vick is, as you say, arguably the most exciting player ever in the NFL, it's hard to see how the league will profit from his absence. No, this whole affair is a public relations nightmare for the NFL, and any benefit that they may eventually gain from being seen as forgiving if they readmit him in a few years will be outweighed by the fans they are losing now because of the poor image of the players and the fans they will lose because of outrage at his readmittance.

And, "Of Course," although I believe in second chances and think that he should be allowed to play in the league after his incarceration and a lengthy suspension, I would not just assume that this is going to happen. First, it is possible that Goodell will ban him for life. It isn't just the dog fighting, it's the gambling and the fact that Vick lied to Goodell. Second, it's possible (though, I think, unlikely) that Vick will be incarcerated for long enough that his skills will have diminished to the point where teams would feel that it wouldn't be worth the negative publicity of bring him back. He could be sentenced to up to 5 years in the federal pen, and faces the possibility of additional time if the state prosecutes as well.

My best guess, though, is a federal sentence of 18-24 months, a concurrent state sentence, release in 12-18 months, and a two year NFL suspension, with Vick eligible to play in 2011 at 31 years of age.

Posted by: rbpalmer | August 21, 2007 1:39 PM

Creative Sentencing: Judge should make him play Football and report him to jail off season. Also, Judge should make him pays his earnings to the Humane Society or any other good cause.

Posted by: Nathan | August 21, 2007 1:50 PM

I like what the last poster said. Make him play football and his salary go to charity. Heck, if Kobe can get off for rape and Jamal Lewis got jail in the offseason for being a drug trafficker, why shouldn't Vick get a similar plight?

As for who signs him, I'd say he'll fit right in in Oakland after he's released.

Posted by: G$ | August 21, 2007 3:47 PM

HIS SMUG AND GHOST LIKE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE HORRIBLE CRIMES HE "DIDN'T" COMMIT AT FIRST WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN. HE APOLIGIZED ONLY BECAUSE HE GOT CAUGHT.
MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE CALLED A PRESS CONFERENCE LIKE KOBE DID AND SIT DOWN WITH THE PRESS AND TAKE IT LIKE A MAN. IF HE IS SINCERE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TELL IN HIS EYES.

Posted by: KELLY | August 21, 2007 5:16 PM

rbpalmer,

Because of the whole Vick ordeal, the NFL is GAINING popularity. As weird as it sounds, people are truly interested in the misfortune of athletes and the rich and famous. For God's sake, look at Paris Hilton! Air time for the NFL is a very important to the league. Right now, the league is getting FREE press 24/7 because of Vick. The press is focusing on Vick and the NFL hasn't been chastised, so they are sitting pretty. Vick lied to the league so, they have little culpability here without some knowledge. There is only so much monitoring of players the NFL can do...

That being said, Vick IS arguably the most exciting player in the league. However, he has never been the most endearing to the NFL fan base. Thus, his loss, while hurtful to the league, is certainly not catastrophic. Truth be told, many fans just don't like him despite his talent. So, to answer your question about the benefits of Vick's case to the NFL:

1. Increased coverage of the NFL for NOTHING. Any coverage, negative or positive, only increases people's desire to watch.

2. League isn't implicated. They had no knowledge of the events or of Vick's involvement. NFL can't be parents to the players. There is only so much they can do.

3. New commish can be seen as tough on players with Vick's ban.

4. League can be seen as forgiving when they let Vick back in. WHICH THEY WILL.

5. People like strife and conflict, it will only increase ratings and viewers.

Posted by: Tony | August 22, 2007 10:23 AM

If Vick plays, I am done with the NFL. Remember Pete Rose?

Posted by: Mason Slover | August 28, 2007 4:22 AM

First of All, the guy below, Mason Slover, is an idiot. Im not saying Vick shouldnt be punished. Im just saying I think that everyone is focused on the bad things that he did and forgetting all the great things he did, like being the most exciting player and football to watch, or creating youth programs, charity donations. Yes, Vick should be punished and be suspended, but not indefinitly. Vick will play again, he's too good for a team not to pick up.

Posted by: Mason Larkins | October 21, 2007 5:14 PM

He will play he makes money and made an offense a team that starts to lose will pick him up the NFL is a business if ican make money it will.

Posted by: Evan Varilone | November 19, 2007 9:43 PM

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