While many people believe that Mike Vick will never play in a Falcons uniform again, there are plenty of reasons to believe he will. And, due partly because he gives the Falcons its best chance to win, it makes the scenario not only plausible, but probable.
Now, If we are going to assume Vick will play again, we also have to assume that he will not spend too many years in jail, either on the federal charges he pleaded guilty to or on the state charges he currently faces. It is believed he will spend no more than three years in jail and will still have several years of football left in him.
So why would he come back to Atlanta? Well, the first and easiest explanation is that he gives his team a chance to win. Combine that with dismal play of the team without him. They are currently off to a 1-5 start and look very bad at almost every aspect of the game. There is no short-term fix to the team's problems. It will take several years for the team to get acquainted with Coach Bobby Petrino's new system, draft quality players or bring in several free agents and begin winning. Even if the team drafts a stud QB next year, the rookie would probably sit out at least a year to learn the system. Even if he did play, he would struggle as most young QBs do. Before that young QB even stepped on the field, Vick would most likely be out of jail and looking for work.
And while there are many people who loathe Vick for his actions, there are many that are ready to forgive him, several living in Atlanta. Also, many of his detractors would disappear after Vick serves his time and is out of the spot light.
So fast forward to three years from today. The Falcons are still rebuilding and likely losing. The team won't be selling out games and will have little support. But Mike Vick is just out of jail (and technically still on the team roster). Activate him and guess what, all of those problems are solved. He automatically adds interest back to the team. Tickets will sell out with fans wanting to see his exciting style of play. Vick would give the team a chance to win, which would also win over many of those who hate him. The team would automatically go from losers to exciting playoff contenders.
Of course, anywhere Vick plays will be met with protesters. There would be an air of negativity around him for some time. But team owner Arthur Blank could easily negate that by saying Vick had served his time and the team wants to support him during his rehabilitation (a rehabilitation that includes the Falcons winning football games).
Now there are those who say Blank would never take Vick back after this fiasco, as evidenced by the team's attempt to recoup more than $20 million of his signing bonus. That is fair, but keep in mind that Blank is a business man. It is smart to recoup $20 million. It is also smart to bring back a player that will fill the stands. The personal feelings Blank has for Vick would certainly be a major stumbling block for Vick's return, but after several sincere apologies from Vick, it could be rectified.
Now lets look at the money aspect. Vick is currently still on the team's roster. He is partially there because the team would take a severe salary cap hit by simply cutting him (even if they wait a year). Another reason he is still on the roster is because he has value. The Falcons know in a worst case scenario, they could trade him to another team and get something in return. However, after three horrible losing seasons, they might not want to trade away the game changer. And what team would want to pick up such a large salary? Vick is set to make $10.5 million in 2010, $12 million in 2011 and even higher numbers on the next 3 years of his salary.
So, the Falcons would be stuck with a talented player that will win football games that they cannot trade. The only problem they have with keeping him is the PR hit it would take which, as mentioned earlier, could be handled. Plus the PR hit may not be that bad. At a recent town hall discussion on the Vick case, hosted by ESPN in Atlanta, the crowd broke out into a "Free Mike Vick" chant. Vick certainly has his detractors, but he has a very loyal following as well.
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