So what happens now? Simple: The Atlanta Falcons either start Joey Harrington at quarterback, or go out and try to sign Daunte Culpepper. The other options are untested DJ Shockley -- who is sort of a poor man's Vick -- and Chris Redman, who I believe played under new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Neither of them are likely to get as much as a snap. Hey Falcons, how's that Matt Schaub trade looking now?
But here's the thing: Do the Atlanta Falcons need Michael Vick? Better yet, do they improve without him? Let's look at this from a few different angles. First of all, the Falcons aren't winning. Since the year that they lost to the Eagles in the NFC title game, Atlanta hasn't made the playoffs. Last year, they lost seven of their last nine games, including an embarrassing home loss to the Saints where Vick flipped off the home fans as he left the field. Michael is an exciting player, but signing him to a long term contract might not have been the wisest move for the franchise. Now they have an opportunity to get out of his contract virtually harm-free. If they release Vick, they still take a hit of $15 million against the salary cap this year and about $6 million next year. However, if Vick gets put in prison, it seems as though either clauses in his contract, or the human logic of the NFL would make it so that the Falcons had to eat none of his contract.
And here's another question about this whole dogfighting scandal: Are we to believe that Marcus Vick wasn't involved? It was just Michael, some friends and the cousin living in the house? Let's take a look at the Vick Bros' rap sheet from the past few years:
Prior to the 2004 season at Virginia Tech: Marcus Vick is suspended for a series of unlawful acts, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of marijuana.
March 2005: Michael Vick is sued by a woman who claims he gave her herpes. Vick's alias during this episode is "Ron Mexico".
October 1, 2005: In a game at West Virginia, Marcus is run out of bounds on a scramble, and subsequently flips the bird to WVU fans.
December 17, 2005: Marcus is charged with speeding and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
January 2, 2006: Marcus stomps on the leg of Louisville defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil.
January 6, 2006: Marcus is dismissed from Virginia Tech. Three days later he is arrested for brandishing a firearm at teenagers in a fast food restaurant parking lot. He is later quoted saying "It's not a big deal. I'll just move on to the next level, baby."
November 26, 2006: Michael flips the double-bird to fans in Atlanta after a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
January 17, 2007: Vick is stopped in an airport with a water bottle that has an extra compartment, possibly used to transport marijuana.
May 1, 2007: Marcus is released by the Miami Dolphins. He played in one game during the 2006 season, accumulating no stats and taking no snaps at quarterback. Still, he told Michael Smith that he was the best quarterback in his draft class, perhaps besides Vince Young.
Present: Vick faces a 18-19 page federal indictment on charges that he sponsored dog fighting in Virginia.
... ain't football great?
Like I said, maybe the Falcons are better off without Vick. Still, athletes everywhere have chimed in with their own opinions: Charles Barkley says that since Vick is a first time offender (WHAT?!) he should be given the benefit of the doubt whereas guys like Pacman Jones should not. Clinton Portis is just an idiot and thinks Vick did nothing wrong. Nice, Clinton. I'm now ashamed that I went out for Halloween last year as Southeast Jerome.
And Deion Sanders probably had the most insightful comments, when he talked about the fact that Vick isn't necessarily a dog-hating maniac (Article).
Do I hate Mike Vick? No. Do I think he's a cruel, weird dude? Absolutely. Do I think he should go to jail? Most definitely. But hey, my opinion means nothing here, and we'll see what happens with his co-defendants in the coming weeks and months.