What should the NFL do with Mikey Vick?

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Michael Vick was released from prison today to spend the next couple of months of his sentence under house arrest. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to have to make a decision about QB Michael Vick’s return to the NFL before too long. The questions are how do you make the decision and what should that decision be.

How will the Commish make the decision: We are likely to hear a lot in the next few days about the difference between a right to play in the NFL vs. the privilege of playing in the league. Dictionary.com defines a right as that which is due to anyone by just claim, legal guarantees, moral principles, etc. It defines a privilege as a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

So, is playing in the NFL a right or a privilege? High school players earn college scholarships with a combination of their preparation, their play on the field and work in the classroom. Anyone that has ever tried to win a scholarship of any kind knows that it must be earned.

Every player in the NFL has worked his entire life to get to the point that he could earn a roster spot. No roster spot is given to a player—he earns it every year. When he is no longer able to earn a roster spot, he is cut or traded. There are no gifts in the NFL—it’s Big Boy football.

In my opinion, playing in the NFL is not a privilege, it is a right that is earned through hard work. But rights can be taken away. A convicted felon forfeits the right to vote, or at least is supposed to, as a part of the punishment for violating the law. Vick is a felon and I believe he has forfeited his right to play.

What should the decision be? I think that Commissioner Goodell should not reinstate Vick but allow him to sign with a team and practice this season. That will give Goodell time to see if Vick has changed his lifestyle or not. Of course Vick has had a lot of help changing his lifestyle. The combination of fines and lawsuit judgments along with attorney costs have eliminated all Vick’s prior earnings. His paycheck from his interim job as a construction worker will not begin to meet his financial obligations to his debt holders.

Vick needs the money a return to the NFL could allow him to earn. If he is a good citizen during training camp, Goodell should let him back in the league. If not, he will go the way of Adam “don’t call me Pacman” Jones. But there is a problem with this scenario—Vick just isn’t that good a QB!

Vick started for 4 full seasons in the NFL with the Falcons and started parts of 2 other seasons. He has never had a completion rate above the 56.4% he had in 2004. 62-65 percent is a must for an NFL team to have success offensively. His highest QB rating was 81.6 in 2002. That is a minimum rating for anyone who is considered starting quality in the league.

He was selected to go to the pro bowl but it was at a time when there just were no other choices in the NFC. At best, he struggled to get to a minimal level of QB skills when he was practicing everyday. Now he has been a guest of the federal government for 2 years with no practice at all.

If Goodell allows Vick to explore his NFL options, I believe very few teams will be interested in signing him. The best any team could hope for from Vick is that he could be a slash type player and wildcat QB for a few plays a game. I believe he will not be successful and likely would not even make the final roster of a team. In that case, he will fade away from the public view and sports talk radio. That would be the best thing for the NFL, the Falcons, and dog lovers everywhere.

The only good Vick is one out of the NFL and out of the public view.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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