A few observations on Michael Vick's situation that need to be brought up amid daily reports that the Philadelphia Eagles are considering releasing him:
Signing Vick has been an abject failure to this point. It would be hard for anyone to take an objective look at his time in Philadelphia thus far and come to any other conclusion. What makes Vick particularly noteworthy is that the Eagles organization ordinarily makes very few mistakes. That's why the team is a perennial Super Bowl contender and head coach Andy Reid has lasted 11 seasons in such a tough town. But every franchise swings and misses sometimes.
On the field, Vick has done very little. In fact, an argument could be made that putting him into games last season in certain Wildcat packages actually did more harm than good. It was almost as if the Eagles gave him plays and opportunities near the goal line and in the red zone in order to justify their decision to sign him in the first place. His game day accomplishments were minimal and Vick mostly slowed one of the best offenses in the league.
Most people accepted the Eagles' decision to sign Vick because it appeared to be an investment. The organization would take the heat for being the first to employ the former Falcon after his dog-fighting conviction and then eventually trade him during this offseason to a team that wants him as its starting quarterback. That made sense. The only problem is that the market for Vick never materialized. League sources say the Eagles have tried desperately to trade him, but to no avail. No offers were made, not even for a 6th- or 7th-round draft pick. That would practically be giving him away. It seems pretty unlikely that the Birds actually thought they would be paying Vick over $5 million to be their backup this year.
Tony Dungy is no longer the answer. Many people have said in the wake of the recent shooting of long-time friend Quanis Phillips at Vick's "All-White" birthday party that the quarterback needs someone like Dungy to help him make better decisions. What? Didn't we already try that once? If going to prison for an extended period of time doesn't scare someone straight enough to make sound choices, what will?
Vick is 30 years old. He's a grown man. It's time for him to carefully consider every single decision he makes and, when in doubt, always err on the side of caution. His very freedoms depend upon it.
Hearing all the time that Dungy is a savior of sorts is starting to get tiresome. He was a very good football coach. By all accounts, he is an outstanding human being and a man of faith. He wants to help people and he's involved in a lot of different ventures in which he does exactly that. But Dungy is not a miracle worker and it is time that Vick either makes the right decisions for his own good or surrounds himself with people who can help him make sound choices.
Besides, rather than beating the Dungy drum, maybe the Eagles should take some blame for Vick's recent incident. Either they did nothing to stop the party or they didn't know about it at all. Both possibilities are unacceptable and should force the organization to see what it can do better. If you have a guy like Vick on your team, you should be monitoring his plans very carefully. Clearly, the Eagles didn't.
Staying away from childhood friends is easier said than done. The common refrain from most of talking heads is that Vick needs to distance himself from any potentially bad influences -- most notably, friends or associates who may put him in compromised positions. That is exactly what Vick must do, but should he never go within 50 miles of the Tidewater region of Virginia where he grew up? He has friends and family in that area, which includes a lot of good people who have always been there for him with his best interests at heart.
How do you separate the good ones from the bad when they are comingled? And what if Vick himself was the bad element? Maybe he's the one who got his friends involved in dog fighting rather than the other way around. Who knows? He did, after all, fund the operation.
Vick will be a starting quarterback again. It just might not be in the NFL. The recent announcement that the upstart UFL will launch a new franchise in Norfolk, Va., in 2011 seems to be a tailor-made opportunity for Vick to show what he can do on a consistent basis. It would be a huge boon for UFL ticket sales and probably the only real chance that Vick will have to prove he can still be a quality starting quarterback. After all, it seems unlikely that he will play for the Eagles much this year.
Despite reports to the contrary, most of the people who know the organization intimately do not expect the Eagles to release Vick, barring something unforeseen, of course. The franchise has simply invested too much time, money, and even civic goodwill to jettison him now, especially since it really doesn't have much of a backup plan at this point. Sure, the Eagles could sign a Josh McCown or Jeff Garcia, but that seems unlikely.
So unless Kevin Kolb gets hurt, Vick will likely sit on the bench for another season and ride out the last year of his contract. Will any teams want him in free agency? It's possible, but there is no interest in him now. Thus, his best bet will probably be Norfolk.