Monday, April 07, 2008

Not a Movie

I am excited to hear that Michael Vick is "practicing" his quarterback skills by playing prison football. Only a Falcons fan could be so pathetic as to consider the Leavenworth Penitentiary's production of "The Longest Yard" as positive omen for the team's future. But, certainly, Vick's homage to Burt Reynolds suggests he has a future with the Falcons. And, consequently, the Falcons have a future.

Anyone who thinks the Falcons can just move on post-Vick is naive. The Falcons faithful is a blingy crowd. We want excitement on the field. And Joey Harrington (or even alleged prospective draft pick Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan) just isn't going to cut it. 8-8 or not, Vick is a superstar and season ticket and jersey sales and fan interest reflected same. The fans already voted with their feet during the 2007 season. But 2008 might be more tolerable knowing that 2009 might beget #7.

And time heals all wounds. The dogs have been adopted out to loving homes and a once bitter team owner Arthur Blank has even become pen pals with Michael Vick! Blank has even lightened up about the situation so much that he's even using off color prison sex jokes when talking about Michael.

"Apparently, there was a prison football team and he played quarterback for both sides.”

Yeah, we all know Mike won't be the same after prison, Blank.

Still, Michael is practicing his accuracy and is hopefully enjoying better receivers and protection than he had in Atlanta. (I mean that in the football sense.)

Seriously, according to Blank, Michael is working hard toward self-improvement. And Blank is willing to help him.

"I just try to be supportive and as understanding as I can be. He talks about the process he is going through and what he has learned, the lessons of life, how he's going to come out a different person. He's sorry he has affected so many people in a negative way — the league, our club, our fans. He feels awful about that. The letters sound quite sincere to me. From a mental standpoint, he sounds good.

I told Michael I'll do whatever I can to be helpful to him personally. Nothing to do with the Atlanta Falcons. He's a human being and I would like to reach out and if I can be productive to him in some way, I would be happy to do that."

Michael Vick is still a member of the Falcons roster and there seems to be a slight glimmer of hope that he may be on the field in red and black as soon as he is allowed. Kevin Winston, the Falcons' senior director of player development, has visited Vick several times in prison. Frankly, the Falcons have no choice but to maintain ties and figure out how to recoup $16 million in pre-paid bonuses that Vick doesn't have to return. Even Blank concedes, "I'd love to see him playing again in the NFL. I would love to see him back in society where he can make a difference and go back to some of these communities and talk to some of these young folks about the impact of choices — choices he personally made about people he was with and choices he made about his own actions. That would be important.” Sure, those might be empty words designed to bolster Vick's trade value. But they might be an indication of the realization that Vick's greatest value to Blank is on the field - playing as a Falcon.

Without a doubt, Vick is getting picked first every time when the guys line up on the prison yard. "Uhhh, yeah, lemme get that dude." It's a no brainer. And if Vick is available to the Falcons in a year or so, I hope Blank calls 7's number. I look forward to that day. I just want to win and have some fun as a Falcons fan. So, yeah, lemme get that dude.

Fingers crossed.