The Continuing Perils Of Mike

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: November 16, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Last week brought some interesting news from the camp of imprisoned former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Apparently, Vick expects to return to the National Football League, according to bankruptcy documents.

In the documents, Vick’s attorneys wrote “The Debtor has every reason to believe that upon his release, he will be reinstated into the NFL, resume his career and be able to earn a substantial living”.

Vick, who is fighting with the Atlanta Falcons over a judgment that he could keep $16.5 million of a signing bonus — is trying to fix a financial mess as his assets are listed as $16 million with liabilities of $20.4 million.

The former Atlanta Falcons star is currently serving a 23-month sentence in a federal penitentiary for dogfighting charges and he is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2009.

I am not sure if Vick will ever play in the NFL again and if he does, the 2009 NFL season maybe a little farfetched. First, NFL camps typically open close to the end of July, which happens to be right around Vick’s scheduled release and second, the former first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft still faces two Virginia state felony counts of dogfighting and animal cruelty.

Both charges carry maximum prison terms of 10 years, but it is rumored under a plea deal that Vick would serve a suspended sentence and a year of probation — he’s scheduled to appear in Surry County (Va.) Circuit Court on Nov. 25th.

Ever since Vick’s troubles, I have been inundated — especially on some Atlanta radio based shows that I appear on — with questions regarding when the NFL will again open its doors to one of their former poster players (like it is a foregone conclusion).

I have always tried to look at all sides of this controversial situation and it is not my intention to get into the whole dogfighting debate here. But in terms of football, I am not sure the NFL will ever let him back in.

The obstacles are many for Vick to get back in the NFL, first will definitely have to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell to explain how he has changed — hopefully the Commish has forgotten their conversation at the 2007 NFL Draft where Vick allegedly bent the truth — and I am sure a suspension would soon follow their talk.

If Vick can convince Goodell — and that is a big “if” — then you have to wonder, which NFL team is willing to take a PR hit for a player that has severely tarnished the NFL’s shield. There is no doubt that Vick is an extraordinary talent and he deserves a chance to play after serving his time.

But even if a team wants to take a chance on the former mercurial quarterback — Is Jerry Jones (Cowboys) or Al Davis (Raiders) or some other owner desperate/nutty enough to bring in Vick ??? — you have to wonder how much his skills have eroded during his time away from the game (Vick said to be playing intramurally in prison) and remember the Falcons still hold his NFL rights.

I still believe that chances are low for Vick to immediately return to the NFL upon his release given the NFL’s current environment of “discipline” – many instances during the 2008 NFL season of the league and teams suspending/fining.

I think the best scenario for Vick maybe to get some playing time in Arena football or some other minor league to prove to the NFL that he is worth a shot. But stay tuned as we know this story will only heat-up as July 2009 approaches.