Sports

Picking Splinters: Vick Could Fit With Patriots

Michael Vick, former Falcons quarterback and PETA Public Enemy No. 1, finished his prison sentence this week. Next step: Returning to the NFL.

Just a few small, minor, pay-them-no-mind problems in between. First, Vick has to meet with NFL Commish Roger Goodell who deals with insolence about as well as Stalin did. Next, there will be the human wall of animal lovers that will likely hound him wherever he goes, blocking his entry to any NFL stadium. And, oh, yeah! He doesn’t have a team.

Alright, maybe that last trouble spot isn’t so minor. In fact, I’m convinced that no team will sign him, if Goodell doesn’t summarily execute him … I mean suspend him anyway.

When it comes down to it, Michael Vick is just too much of a risk and not enough of a reward. His conditioning will be in question after his prison stint. The public still largely feels like he went around to every living room in America and curb-stomped the family pooch. And even before the trouble started, Vick had never proved that he could be a consistently productive quarterback, meaning that many believe he will have to learn an entirely new position now.

There are red flags all around this guy, which means that 99.9 percent of clubs are going to stay very far away. Of course, the Nationals may try to sign him. This is just the kind of rehabilitation case they love.

NFL franchises on the other hand … If they conduct any sort of talks with Vick, they will either be attaching offer sheets to the end of a 10-foot poll or using some sort of CIA dead-drop system, so they won’t have to be seen with him.

The more I look around the league, I just don’t see a good fit. There’s been some speculation that the Redskins could be interested in Vick. Doubtful. Vick is exactly the type of player that Dan Snyder’s team brings in with much fanfare and much coin only to leave fans very much disappointed when they fail spectacularly. And that doesn’t even get into Vick’s puppy problems. Snyder may not have the best football mind in the world, but he knows how to make a buck. Bringing in a guy like Vick could only hurt the gate revenues and sponsorship dollars. If anyone has seen Six Flags stock lately, they know Snyder could use the money.

Any time there’s a troubled – but really, really fast – player on the market everyone links him to the Oakland Raiders. More often than not, they’re right. Stereotypes exist for a reason, right? But the biggest problem with inking Vick is the potential for protests outside your stadium every weekend. Do you think there would be any shortage of protests in Northern California? Me neither.

There could be one team that could take Vick on and possibly get away with it: The New England Patriots.

Cease fire with the Sam Adams for a second, Pats fans, and hear me out.

We’ve already established that there are two main problems with Vick: His viability as a receiver and his image. The first is an easy fix in New England.

First of all, they don’t need him. They have plenty of other capable pass-catchers so that, should he fail spectacularly and show no promise, there’s no harm in kicking him to the curb. Second, because of their depth at the position, they could afford to develop him slowly, using his gifts of agility and acceleration in the open field to rebuild him in the Wes Welker mold. We all know there’s potential there, it’s just a matter of staving off Vick’s baggage long enough for him to realize it.

As for the image hiccup, it’s going to sting, but no club has as much leeway with the media as the Pats do. Plus, their successful “rehabilitation” of Randy Moss’s image establishes some measure of trust that they’re not just exploiting Vick’s talent and they actually know what they’re doing.

The takers for Vick will not be many, and there’s no guarantee the Pats will have any interest whatsoever, but if he’s going to work out anywhere, my money would be on New England.