Here are some of the quarterbacks who played Sunday for NFL teams: Sage Rosenfels. Kyle Boller. Brock Berlin. The McCown brothers, Josh and Luke. Shaun Hill. John Beck. Vinny Testaverde. And Michael Vick is never going to play again in the NFL? Are you kidding me?
Look, I’m not here to decide whether the 23-month prison sentence given Vick for running a dogfighting operation was too lenient or too harsh. I’m guessing U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson has a far better understanding of the case than I do.
But I do feel empowered to weigh in on Vick’s future.
With time off for good behavior, Vick could be released in the summer of 2009. Assuming NFL commissioner Roger Goodell then tacks on a one-year suspension, Vick will be 30 years old when he’s free to resume his career.
Given his age, his reputation and the fact he’ll have been away from the game for three years, Vick would seem too big of a risk for an NFL team.
But we know better, don’t we?
First off, Vick’s freakish athletic ability won’t completely disappear inside the prison walls.
Muhammad Ali lost 3 1/2 years of his career when he was stripped of his boxing license in 1967 for his refusal to be inducted into the armed services. He didn’t have the same bounce in his legs when he returned, but Joe Frazier and George Foreman will be the first to say he wasn’t an old man, either.
As for Vick being a pariah because of his prison term, this is the NFL we’re talking about. The pressure to win — and the rewards for winning — is so great that teams would sign Jeffrey Dahmer if they thought he’d give their defense more bite.
Besides, if Vick does his time quietly, serves his NFL suspension contritely and apologizes, again, for his actions, who’s to say he doesn’t deserve a second chance? The PETA folk might line up and protest, but I’m guessing they’ll be outnumbered by those who preach forgiveness.
But the overwhelming reason we’ll eventually see Vick on Sundays is the list mentioned above. It’s hard to remember a time when there were so few quality quarterbacks in the NFL. I mean, the Carolina Panthers had to drag the 44-year-old Testaverde out of mothballs, and Kyle Orton will start for the Chicago Bears this weekend.
Because, you know, he’s so much better than Brian Griese.
Here’s an instructional story: Former Cardinals defensive end Andre Wadsworth had been out of football for seven years when the New York Jets invited him to training camp this past August.
Seven years! And, at best, Wadsworth was going to be a part-time player.
How many teams, then, will line up to take a second look at Vick if they think he can still drive defenses crazy?
Do I think Vick ever will be the player he once was?
Do I think he’ll have to adjust and adapt his game when he finally dons a uniform?
But given the paucity of NFL quarterbacks who can walk and throw a completion at the same time, to think that Vick’s career is over is foolish.
He’ll play again.
It’s not a question of when, but with whom.
Listen to Scott Bordow every Monday at 3:25 p.m. on The Fan (1060 AM) with Bob Kemp.