Interesting article at the AJC from Terence Moore, who I almost never agree with. I don't here, either, but I think his reasoning is quite sound. Moore's assertion is basically that Vick is the face of the team in so many ways. More precisely, the Falcons are Vick's team even now:
This is where I disagree. Vick was a media and fan favorite because of how flashy he was, but the NFL is a minefield. Now that his reputation has blown up in his face, he's starting a very quick descent into the land of ruined promise. I realize that the Falcons will always be about Vick to some people, but I think that's missing the forest for the ultra-mobile tree. This is a team with a lot of character guys. Joe Horn stays late to sign autographs, Alge Crumpler is all around charitable, and Warrick Dunn gives money to build houses for low income families. This is a team with some high-level talent and some nice guys. To suggest that the Falcons are going to be damaged beyond repair by this? It won't happen.
That's not to say Moore is entirely wrong. As noted, Vick has become so much larger in the public mind that most fans probably can barely tell you who's on the team beyond him. People from the northern woods of Maine to the southern tip of Florida were parading around in Vick jerseys, and they were much more concerned with the name on the back of those flashy red threads. I just put a lot more faith in the cogs of the NFL machine than Moore does, I think. If Vick spends this year suspended and nowhere near the Falcons, your average fan won't be thinking about him unless some spectacular detail pops up in his trial. This league more than any other tends to punish wasted potential and shun its transgressors. Just ask Odell Thurman how hard it is to get back on the field in the Goodell era.
So while it's easy to become convinced by it if you're just trolling websites and newspapers, Vick isn't this team. When I think of the Falcons, I'll always think of 1998, Andre Rison, Jamal Anderson and the victory over the Packers at Lambeau. Once the season starts, I don't expect to think much about our scrambling QB unless he's out on the field. Contrary to what Terence Moore and others are saying, I don't think the franchise is doomed because of Vick's mistakes. You can say he was enabled because of his treatment by the team, but you can't say he wasn't responsible for his own actions. Guilty or not, Vick dug his own grave thanks to his associations with dogfighting.
I just don't think he's burying the Falcons, too.