It has nothing to do with what offensive schemes can accommodate him, what coaches covet his talents, or what teams have needs at quarterback.
It has everything to do with image.
There are plenty of NFL head coaches that could use Vick’s talents, but it’s the general manager’s decision—and in a situation as precarious as this, any GM has to consider everyone involved.
How would signing Vick affect the other players on the team? The coaches? The fans? Anyone who holds a stake, financially or emotionally, in the franchise?
Finally, will his wife let him come home at night after signing someone who went to jail for a crime against puppies?
It’s unlikely that Michael Vick will be a starting quarterback anywhere in the NFL, perhaps ever again. While he did lead Atlanta to the playoffs, he was never an accurate passer, and the Falcons always struggled with maximizing the effect of Vick’s abilities.
Instead, with the rise of the Wildcat offense, the NFL finally has a place for Michael Vick. The Wildcat’s novelty will wear off soon, but the advantages of a single-wing offense don’t go away—if the ball is snapped directly to the ball carrier, then there’s one extra blocker since the quarterback isn’t on the field.
Look for Vick to get some touches with the feel of an old-school option—run if the running's good, or air it out deep if the defense cheats the coverage to protect the run.
But wherever he goes, controversy (at least for a time) will likely follow. Each NFL team is a business, literally a franchise—and controversy this incendiary can damage a brand in a way that takes a long time to rebuild.
That’s a good reason why the Oakland Raiders, an oft-recurring name in the Vick sweepstakes, could be such a good fit. Besides Al Davis’ well-known lust for speed on his roster, the Raiders’ image is already unpopular with protective moms across the country.
It’s hard to imagine that adding Vick to their already thuggish appearance could harm their brand in any appreciable way.
The New England Patriots are another potential Vick suitor that has been bandied about, and the opposite is true for them. It’s thought that if Bill Belichick reined in Randy Moss—who has been conspicuously well-behaved for years—then he can mentor Michael Vick to the point that he humbles a bit and re-enters the real world, where the rest of us live.
For any other franchise, the risks could just be too great. Could they see a drop in ticket sales? Protests outside the stadium before big games?
Or would selling a whole crop of No. 7 jerseys make up for losses anywhere else?
It seems just as likely that no truly sour consequences will come to the franchise. Athletes get in legal trouble with striking regularity, and generally without repercussions for the team.
It’s hard to remember now that Kobe Bryant had a legal spat in Colorado. Allen Iverson had served time in jail. Nobody seemed to mind the Dallas Cowboys picking up Tank Johnson after his legal troubles, and the Cleveland Browns don’t seem worried about kickback from Donte’ Stallworth’s brush with the law—in which he killed a man.
But for most NFL teams, the risk is just too big to take. Rejection by their fan community can take years to repair, and most GMs don’t want to gamble with the image of their team by signing Michael Vick.
Even if their wives would let them.
Read more by Roger Pimentel at HowToWatchSports.com.
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