Maybe without prison, we never see this Michael Vick

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles waits for instructions against the Washington Redskins on November 15, 2010 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

As I’m watching him completely dissect the Redskins’ defense on Monday night, a thought came to me: Would Michael Vick have become the quarterback he is right now if he hadn’t lost everything three years ago?

Vick still has a long way to go. He currently leads all quarterbacks with a 115.1 rating and he’s yet to throw an interception in 153 pass attempts this season. But none of the four teams he’s beaten (the Lions, Jaguars, Colts and Redskins) own a defense in the top 15 and he missed three and a half games with a rib injury this year.

Four games does not a MVP make.

But I watched Vick run around the Georgia Dome for six years and that Vick was not the same player you see today. The Falcons were lucky if he would go through two of his progressions before taking off and running and even when he did throw, you didn’t know if the pass would wind up in his receiver’s hands or the waiting arms of a defender.

He didn’t have pocket presence, he wasn’t careful with the football and he had little idea what his opponent was trying to do in terms of defending him. He just went out there and played, which was fine most of the time. He led the Falcons to two playoff berths and one NFC Championship Game, but in all that time he never progressed as a passer. Sure, there were signs that he was starting to turn the corner (most notably in 2006, when he was impressive in performances against the Steelers, Bengals and Cowboys), but on a whole he was a glorified running back that just so happened to take the snap from center every play.

But not anymore. He’s poised, he’s confident, and most of all, he’s prepared. He’s told several media members that he never took his off-field responsibilities seriously in Atlanta (which should infuriate the Falcons considering how much money they paid him). He was never the first player in and the last player out. He rarely studied film on his own, went to lengths to work with his receivers outside of practice or met with his coaches to go over game plans in his free time. He simply went through the motions because he knew his God-given athletic ability would usually carry him through.

Then he got hauled off to prison and everything changed. He lost his fame, his fortune and was humbled in the process. He didn’t have 60,000 fans screaming his name or the opportunity to showcase his talent. He had nothing.

I’m a firm believer that people can change, but they have to suffer first. They have to be embarrassed and humbled and then they need to seek help. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea if Vick has changed his act off the field, but it’s obvious he’s a different player on it. I don’t think that happens unless he goes to prison. Even he’s admitted that he did the things he did because he thought, “I’m Mike Vick – what’s the worst that could happen?” But now he’s Michael Vick the ex-convict and someone that has to re-pay his debts (both monetary and to society). He knows that he needs football more than ever and appears to be embracing the game for the first time in his career.

Again, he has a long way to go. The Giants may expose all of his flaws this Sunday and his play could spiral downward from here on out. I actually fully expect the law of averages to eventually catch up with him and for his numbers to drop, but that doesn’t mean he’ll revert back to the player he was in Atlanta. And who knows, maybe he would have figured it out eventually with the Falcons. (It’s not like he didn’t have the talent.)

But I doubt it. I think his time behind bars served him well.

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Iyer: Six teams that make sense for Vick

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News details six teams that make sense as fits for Michael Vick.

Iyer does a nice job of detailing why each of the six teams (49ers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks) might eventually seek Vick’s services. But of the six, I’d put my money on these two teams:

Oakland Raiders. This is a make-or-break year for JaMarcus Russell, and if Russell falters, 39-year-old Jeff Garcia is only a stopgap solution. Owner/G.M. Al Davis historically has taken chances on super-athletic players, even those with a resume of indiscretions. Vick’s strong arm and speed would be the initial attraction, but his running ability fits right in with the team’s deep and talented backfield.

Seattle Seahawks. Even though coach Jim Mora has said Seattle’s current quarterback situation wouldn’t prompt the team to go after Vick, it might be different if injuries continue to hamper Matt Hasselbeck, who turns 34 in September and has a history of back problems. The Seahawks already have a Vick-like QB in backup Seneca Wallace, but of all the offenses out there Vick would have the easiest time under Mora and Greg Knapp, his former coach and coordinator from Atlanta.

The Raiders are an easy fit for the obvious reasons: They don’t care about character, they’ve taken in delinquents before, Al Davis is bat-sh*t crazy, etc.

But the Seahawks make a lot of sense for one key reason: Jim Mora.

Now, Mora did confirm in early June that Seattle isn’t interested in Vick. But all he said was that the Seahawks were “very happy” with the quarterbacks they have on their roster.

Don’t forget that while coaching in Atlanta, Mora treated Vick like a childhood friend and often came to his defense when others criticized the inconsistent quarterback. Granted, that alone doesn’t mean that Mora would be willing to take on all of Vick’s baggage now, but considering that Matt Hasselbeck is coming off a serious back injury and Seneca Wallace proved last year that he’ll probably never be anything more than a backup, maybe Mora will eventually warm up to the idea. If anyone believed they could help turn Vick’s life around, it could be Mora, someone who already has a relationship with the troubled QB.

Of course, Vick still has to be reinstated before any team can sign him. It’s a waiting game now.

Vick should take whatever he can get

Michael Vick is officially a free man these days after being released from federal custody on Monday at his home in Virginia. He now will wait to see if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will reinstate him into the league.

In the meantime, Vick, per, doesn’t want to play in Canada and “hasn’t entertained any thoughts” of joining the UFL. He’s also focused on playing quarterback if he’s reinstated (this coming from

Come again? Isn’t this the same Michael Vick who just spent two years in a federal penitentiary for setting up an illegal dog-fighting ring in his backyard and subsequently lying to Goodell when probed about the subject?

Granted, these are just reports and there’s a possibility that Vick never stated that he only wants to play quarterback in the NFL. After all, these aren’t actual quotes from Vick so maybe the national media is just drumming up a story that parallels his release from federal custody.

But if I’m Vick, if the freaking Toronto Argonauts need a backup punter I would be open to doing it. He’s 29 years old, hasn’t played a down of football in two years and committed one of the most heinous acts the professional sports world has seen in some time. So I would take what you can get, Mikey – especially considering that half the NFL has already stated it doesn’t want you for anything (not even a backup punter).

If Vick truly believes that he’s just going to walk back into the NFL, assume a starting quarterback role and be paid like a starting quarterback, than he’s more naïve than any of us ever imagined.

Falcons owner says Vick won’t return to team

Not surprisingly, Michael Vick isn’t welcomed to stop by Atlanta Falcons headquarters anytime soon. With Vick’s release from federal prison on Wednesday, Atlanta owner Arthur Blank made it clear that his former franchise player will never play for the Falcons again.

“The Falcons maintain Michael’s contractual rights for now, but he will not be playing for us in the future. In the event NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to reinstate Michael to the NFL, we feel his best opportunity to re-engage his football career would be at another club.

“From a personal standpoint, I will continue to be supportive of Michael in any way that would be positive, constructive and helpful.”

Blank made plenty of mistakes during Vick’s playing time in Atlanta. For starters, he and the Falcons coddled Vick too much and turned a blind eye when the quarterback started to make off-field headlines for the wrong reasons. They didn’t want to upset their star player and even went as far to protect him at all costs, which wound up hurting them in the end. I always thought the time Blank pushed Vick onto the field in Dallas in a wheelchair after he broke his leg was way overblown, but the situation did show that Blank got too close to his star.

That said, Vick flat out lied to Blank several times and abused his relationship with the owner. Blank gave Vick a mile and Vick took another 74 more miles. While it’s true Vick made Blank a ton of money, he also cost him millions more after the dog fighting scandal reached its pinnacle. Blank never deserved the humiliation that Vick put him through and I think it’s a testament to who he is as a person that he continues to support his former quarterback on a personal level.

But as the man said – no way will Vick ever be welcomed back by the Falcons. That franchise was put through hell by Vick and Bobby Petrino and now have a great thing building with Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and of course, Matt Ryan. In the end, karma paid Blank a visit and made things even.

Let’s just hope that Blank doesn’t make the same mistakes with Ryan as he did with Vick, because no player should ever be put above the team.

Michael Vick released from prison

Michael Vick has officially been released from federal prison.

Vick is due to return to his Hampton, Va., home and serve the remainder of his federal sentence on house arrest. He spent the past 19 months in prison after pleading guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting ring.

Vick, once the NFL’s highest-paid player, is expected to take a construction job at $10 an hour while he serves the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. He will be handed a new set of rules when he begins serving three years of probation after his expected July 20 release from federal custody.

Vick’s agent said Tuesday that the quarterback “will place football on the back burner” during his immediate home confinement and that there are no meetings scheduled with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss reinstatement for the 2009 season.

“Michael’s looking forward to reacquainting himself with his family, his fiancée, Kiafa, his children and his mom,” Joel Segal, Vick’s agent, said. “When he gets home, that’s his priority, along with reinserting himself into society and being a positive influence in his community. This is going to be a special time for him, just being around family.”

Goodell has said he would wait until the end of Vick’s sentence to consider reinstatement. He has said Vick will have to persuade him and the public that he is genuinely sorry for his crime, that he has been changed by his experience and that he is committed to leading a different life.

Unless Segal was just playing to the media and wasn’t being sincere, I think Vick “putting football on the back burner” is a great idea. His life is in complete shambles right now and he needs to take one day at a time. Perhaps the most beneficial thing for him is to distance himself from anyone who had a negative effect on his life. Several reports have stated that he’s too easily influenced and if that’s the case, then he needs to surround himself with positive people. Considering he has immense financial debt, football should be the last thing on his mind.

(If anyone else wants advice about their lives or financial situation, please call my hotline at: 1-800-I-Sound-Like-Dr.-Phil-In-This-Article.)

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