I think Michael Vick deserves a chance to play the entire season. I also hope it’s with the Washington Redskins, and I think there’s a pretty good chance of that.
Let Vick Play
First, what Vick did to those dogs was obviously terrible. I like dogs, and they like me. But Vick paid a huge price, spending two years in prison, missing two full NFL seasons, and losing all of his money. The whole idea that the NFL is suspending Vick on top of the jail sentence doesn’t make sense to me. The NFL suspended Vick two years ago, so he has already been suspended for two full seasons.
The NFL has left the door open for Vick to come back right away, with its ambiguous ruling, but Vick may also have to wait until week 6 to play. The NFL wants Vick to miss the opening week of the season so the story doesn’t dominate the headlines. They also are concerned with reaction from extreme animal groups as well as a society that seems to place more value on the lives of animals than people. Other players did worse and got lesser punishments.
- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in a murder trial in 2000. Lewis was originally accused of having a role in the deaths of two people but he never received even a fraction of the vilification that Vick did. In fact, he became a hero. Lewis was not suspended by the NFL but was fined $250,000. The next season, Lewis led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory. Lewis has consistently been one of the most praised players in the NFL since the incident.
- St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was suspended for only 8 games by the NFL after he was convicted of manslaughter in 1998, killing a woman while driving drunk. Vick has already missed four times as many games as Little. (Little spent 90 days in jail). In 2004, Little was arrested again on charges of driving drunk.
- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth is on indefinite suspension from the NFL after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in April after killing a man while driving drunk. Stallworth only spent one month in jail and will likely be reinstated to the NFL after this season.
Vick is a Quarterback
One of the problems with 24-hour sports talk, ESPN, and the sports blogosphere is that people don’t do much thinking for themselves. They just repeat back what everybody else says (It’s the same with news). I’d say 90% of the so-called NFL experts have said over the last two years that when Vick comes back, he will come back not as a quarterback, but as a wide receiver, kick returner, or situational quarterback. The thinking goes that Vick wasn’t that good of a quarterback in the first place, and two years away from the game would not enable him to recover and play the complex position of quarterback.
Here’s why all those people are wrong. Vick may have been one of the fastest players in the league during his first few years, but after 6 years of playing QB in the NFL, the wear and tear on Vick probably left his speed at merely faster than average for an NFL wide receiver. Now after two years of inactivity, he may be just middle of the road as far as speed for NFL receivers. Plus, he has never played receiver. If you have Vick at wildcat QB, ok, then he can throw the ball, run with it, catch it, or be a decoy. But he’s too talented to just play 10 plays a game long-term.
As I’ve said before in my other blog (www.mikefrandsen.org – click “Quarterbacks”), people don’t place a high enough value on quarterbacks who win. It’s why quarterbacks like Vick (38-28-1 record as a starter) and Vince Young (18-11) get underrated, while quarterbacks like Jay Cutler (17-20) get overrated – because people care more about stats than wins. Gee, I wonder what else it could be? The way the talking heads talk about Vick and Young makes you wonder if they have an axe to grind – as if they actually dislike them.
Vick’s 71-52 touchdown to interception ratio isn’t that bad despite the fact that he never had good wide receivers, and his WRs dropped a lot of passes his final two years. Vick also led the Falcons to a 27-7 victory over Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in 2003, at a time when the Packers had never lost a home playoff game. The media constantly harps on Vick’s low completion percentage, (53.8%) as evidence that he is a bad QB, but you could take every player’s worst stat out of context if you ignore his good stats. Who would you rather have, Vick, or a one-dimensional immobile QB with a high completion percentage? They talk about Vick’s low passer rating, but quarterback ratings don’t take into consideration how well QBs avoid sacks and how many yards they gain on the ground.
Also, it’s not as if the Falcons from 2001 to 2006 were known for having great defense, or great anything, really. What could Vick have accomplished on a good team? Vick has 3859 career rushing yards and averaged 7.3 yards a carry. In 2006, Vick rushed for over 1000 yards and had 8.4 yards a carry, an NFL record! Great rushing quarterbacks have succeeded — look at Steve Young and Steve McNair. The dimension that Vick has of running with the ball scares a defense a lot more than overrated quarterbacks who throw tons of interceptions. Vick has never thrown more than 13 interceptions in a season. Again, that’s not spectacular, but it’s not as bad as the so-called experts would have you believe.
The fact is that Vick is better than just about all of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and better than a lot of starters. Maybe not this minute, but after he’s spent the month of August and the early part of the season practicing with a team he will be. At the absolute worst, in my opinion, these are the only quarterbacks who are better than Vick (I put them in order of where I believe they rank). And within a year, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Vick ends up starting somewhere and moves up to Tier 4, and maybe even up to Tier 3 after a couple of years if he gets into the right situation. So that means that right now, or by the early part of the season, Vick would be better than nearly a third of the starting quarterbacks in the league.
Vick to the Redskins?
I believe that the Redskins should sign Vick. They are the perfect team for him. The team is already established and will have a huge fan base no matter what. The higher than usual minority population will support Vick more than in other cities, and Vick is also somewhat local, as he is from southern Virginia.
Dan Snyder will get a lot of criticism if he signs Vick, but Snyder should not let that bother him. People will talk about Snyder’s past signings of “fantasy” players, but those decisions are a sunk cost. You can’t ignore Vick’s upside.
The Redskins have an established starter in Jason Campbell, but he still hasn’t proven that he is here to stay. This is Campbell’s fifth season, so he will need to produce. He has only been on average teams and has had several coaching changes in terms of offensive systems, but the time has come to be more consistent. He has poise and a strong arm, but we’re still waiting for him to live up to his first round draft selection.
The Skins have two relatively weak backups. Todd Collins is 37 and has started 3 games in the last 11 seasons. Colt Brennan is a second year QB and former 6th round draft choice who played great in the preseason last year, but is unproven. I actually think he has great potential, but it’s still too early to tell for sure. The other QB on the Skins roster is Chase Daniel, a winner out of Missouri but a rookie who went undrafted.
Ironically, even though Vick is a huge name, the expectations are low for him – a lot of people are assuming he won’t play QB or if he will then he will only be a backup or a situational player. Take away the off the field problems Vick had and there is no way the Redskins can afford not to sign Vick. The upside that Vick has compared with the Redskins backups is much greater. Expect the Redskins to sign Vick and for him to possibly play occasional series once the middle of the season gets here.
Again, obviously what Vick did with dogfighting was terrible, but he paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance. That chance may be with the Washington Redskins.
Update August 8 – It appears unlikely that the Skins will sign Vick. The league probably wants him to go to a small market like Green Bay, Kansas City, or St. Louis. That way, the animal protest groups will have a harder time getting out there, whereas in DC they would have an easier time protesting. Secondly, I have a feeling Snyder may be sensitive to the criticism of him signing big name players. But those signings – and some worked out okay – are a sunk cost and Snyder or any other owner would be wise to consider someone like Vick who is likely better than their backup QBs and may eventually challenge for the starting job. I think Minnesota makes sense.