Thoughts on Ryan and Vick
It is being widely speculated that the Atlanta Falcons' decision to select quarterback Matt Ryan of Boston College with the third overall pick in the NFL draft Saturday means that the organization has, in effect, severed its ties with suspended and imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick.
Or maybe not.
Certainly the Falcons hope that Ryan becomes their franchise quarterback. He has a chance to ascend to the starting job next season as a rookie, and the Falcons are crossing their fingers that he'll keep the job for a decade or more because that would mean he would have become the player that club officials hope and believe he can become. If that happens, there will be little or no reason for the Falcons to bring back Vick when his 23-month federal prison sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation in Virginia is finished and his indefinite suspension from the NFL is ended by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
But declaring Vick's tenure with the Falcons definitively over now might be premature.
Ryan threw 19 interceptions last season at Boston College, and the sport only gets faster and more complex for him now at the next level. Other teams were wary of drafting him because of that interception total. The Miami Dolphins, who had the top overall selection in the draft, lack an established quarterback, yet they chose Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long. The Dolphins didn't even appear to give particularly serious consideration to choosing Ryan.
One needs to look no further than Ryan's new teammate in Atlanta, Joey Harrington, to remember that a quarterback picked third overall in the NFL draft doesn't always become a star.
And if Ryan fails, the Falcons would be right back where they started--without a quarterback and wondering what to do about Vick when and if he ever is close to returning to football. No one can know for sure when that might be. State charges against him still are pending. Goodell has given no indication how long Vick's suspension might last.
Some have speculated that Vick might never play in the NFL again. It says here that it's too soon to know. The American public tends to forgive over time. If Vick takes the right approach to seeking the fans' forgiveness, the public perception of him just might soften to the point that some team might feel it can give him another chance.
Maybe that team even could be the Falcons, to whom Vick remains under contract.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said it's possible that Vick could return to the team someday. He also has said that the Falcons must go about their planning as if they never will have Vick back. That's what the Falcons did by drafting Ryan.
Perhaps the selection of Ryan means that Vick never will play for the Falcons again. Perhaps it doesn't.
That's now, at least in part, up to Ryan and how he plays.
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