Can Vick Make a Comeback?


            Michael Vick was once one of the most electrifying athletes ever to play the game of football.  His speed and agility made him almost impossible for pass rushers to sack and he remained a constant figure on sports highlight shows every Monday morning during the National Football League season.

            Then suddenly Vick was gone.  His career was placed in jeopardy after being convicted of dog fighting in 2007.  With his release from federal prison imminent, will there be any interest in Michael Vick from NFL teams, and if so, will the former Atlanta Falcon be able to recover from the financial ruin that he currently finds himself in?

            During the 2008 season, the Falcons were looking for a fresh start after the Vick controversy the prior year.  They decided to select former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft.  Ryan was an immediate success at the Georgia Dome leading the Falcons into the playoffs, and ensuring that the Falcons would no longer have any interest in Michael Vick.

            Furthermore, in 2008 teams like the Miami Dolphins introduced offenses such as the Wildcat that would seem ideal for a quarterback with Vick’s speed.  However, no teams have openly expressed any interest in giving the much-maligned former star a chance at redemption.

            “We have three terrific quarterbacks on our roster and I’m not really interested in going after Michael,” said Dolphin general manager Jeff Ireland.

            Another team that would seem to be a decent fit for the former Virginia Tech standout would be the San Francisco 49ers.  Coach Michael Singletary has the strong personality needed to be a disciplinarian for high maintenance players such as tight end Vernon Davis and plans to be a run-oriented team, but 49ers staff have also expressed no interest in Michael Vick.

            “It’s up to (Singletary and general manager Scot McCloughan) to show that somebody who’s had issues in the past can be a part of this team,” said 49ers president Jed York.  “But that’s not something we’ve discussed, and I doubt that would happen.”

            New York Jets coach Rex Ryan also expressed no interest in Michael Vick, despite losing Brett Favre to retirement and Chad Pennington in a trade with the Dolphins in 2008.  “I haven’t thought about Michael Vick,” he said.  “We’re worried about the three quarterbacks we already have on the roster right now.”  An option could be with the upstart United Football League.

            Nevertheless, it is certain that Vick is worried about his football and financial future after a bankruptcy judge in Virginia denied his financial plan to emerge from bankruptcy.  Recently, Vick agreed to pay the Falcons $6.5 million as an element of his bankruptcy case, which would also make him a free agent if he is reinstated into the NFL.

            However, on April 3, Judge Frank Santoro of Virginia, denied approval of Vick’s elaborate financial scheme to recover from bankruptcy, stating that he believed the plan was unfeasible because Vick would need $1 million by May 1 to make the plan work and would only have $210,000 by that date.  Nevertheless, Santoro gave Vick one last chance to come up with a plan to emerge from financial catastrophe.

            The former Falcon said that he would make $600,000 from a documentary TV deal and that he has plans to be reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell once he is released from prison.  However, the judge said that there is no guarantee he will be reinstated and no guarantee there will be interest in Michael Vick if he returns.

            To make matters worse, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a complaint on March 25, claiming Vick illegally spent approximately $1.3 million in pension plan benefits from his celebrity marketing company MV2 on his own his expenses, including paying restitution in the dog fighting case.

            Despite the uphill battle, Vick will one day get a chance to redeem himself on the gridiron and off.  The question is will the interest in Michael Vick and his talent level ever outshine the controversy he has created for himself?

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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