The Case for Michael Vick:
1. He has served his time: Michael Vick has undoubtedly served his time, well, at least the time that was assessed as being a sufficient punishment by a court of law. While many, including myself, view his punishment as inadequate for the crimes he committed, Vick has no further obligation to society, and, like other one-time criminals, should be allowed to resume his professional career and put the incident behind him. Or, as Coach Mike Tomlin put it, "I thought the basis of our country was built on second chances and redemption. This guy pays his debt to society and he's reinstated by [NFL] commissioner [Roger] Goodell, he deserves an opportunity to right some of the things he has done wrong." (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/around_the_nfl/post/Tomlin-Vick-has-paid-debt-to-society?urn=nfl,150597).
2. Talent: Before his incarceration, Vick was a premiere athlete who made three Pro-Bowl appearances in six seasons and commanded a contract worth $130 million over 10 years. While he might not be the best quarterback, Vick made up for any shortcomings with raw athletic talent, specifically his speed and evasiveness. Although Vick will most likely have a good bit of rust to shake off, the price any team willing to take him will pay will be an immense bargain in comparison to his pre-incarceration earnings potential. Further, like T.O., Vick will recognize this year as a make-or-break year and will have tremendous motivation to not only give it everything he has to prove himself worthwhile as a PR risk, but also to walk the proverbial “straightened arrow” to avoid any additional public unrest. These factors combined make Vick a very solid backup quarterback with potential to either transition to a starting position or be a valuable bargaining chip in future trade negotiations.
The Case Against Michael Vick:
1. PR Nightmare: Do I really need to run through this? We’re all aware of the issues that acquiring a convicted felon will bring to a team, especially a felon who orchestrated and profited from the torture of animals over a lengthy period of time: PETA will protest and the franchise could alienate their dog-loving fans. But aside from this, any team which takes Vick will have to do some serious damage control for signing a convicted felon at all (absent the animal-related aspect). In recent years, the media has directed much attention to the legal woes surrounding professional athletes and the NFL has come under fire for condoning such behavior in the name of winning. How could a team possibly rebut this accusation while acquiring Vick? In continuing to accept questionable athletes into its ranks, the NFL, and particularly the team which takes him, runs a great risk of being viewed as “dirty” or “dirtier”, which could be off-putting to fans, especially families. So, the question is, “is Vick worth the PR nightmare which will ensue?”
2. Time Away Impact on Skills: Aside from character issues, there are many questions regarding Vick’s ability to play. Michael Vick has missed the past two NFL seasons and, unlike an injured star or a benchwarmer, this time was spent in a federal penitentiary, not running drills and honing skills. This begs the question of just how much rust does Vick have to shake off before being able to compete at a level that would justify a team acquiring him? Moreover, how will this athlete, who has always been the face of his franchise, adjust to his non-preferential treatment? If after several months the humility Vick has acquired throughout the past two years begins to wear thin, and Vick falls back into his egocentric ways, Vick could prove to be a distraction to his teammates.