Now that the Falcons have finally released Vick, I find myself thinking back on his years with the team.
Thanks for FrankyWren for breaking the news, first off. What Vick represented for the first few years he joined the franchise was hope based on his draft position and powerful throwing arm, insane athleticism and nearly constant frustration. The Vick quarterback many of us thought he would or could be never materialized for more than a few games at a time, such as his 2006 dismantling of the Cincinnati Bengals. During those moments, there simply wasn't a more exciting player to watch in the NFL. Unfortunately, then would come games where he foolishly ran where he shouldn't have, turned the ball over and cost the Falcons scores or even games. The divide between what Arthur Blank and Jim Mora told us Vick was going to be and what he actually was--an average quarterback--became wider.
Then came the legal issues, whispered at first and eventually becoming the full-blown fiasco of the dog fighting ring. I had never felt worse about the team than that year, and it became clear in my mind that no matter what happened in the years ahead, this was to be Vick's lasting legacy with the Falcons. The man with the once in a generation rushing talent and the marketable smile was to be the man who buried an entire franchise because of a loathsome hobby. I can and did accept his play on the field, knowing that the Falcons had to try to get him more help, a coach who knew how to use him, and come down harder on him in an effort to draw out his true potential. I will never fully be able to let go of what his arrest, conviction and suspension did to a team I've followed with bright-eyed enthusiasm since the late 1980's. I'm not a perfect person, and forgiveness is not something I can haul out of my personal well at every occasion.
But now it's over, friends. I had hoped to get something in return for Vick, but this gives him a chance to seek his new life. Despite my anger over what happened, I'll repeat what I've said for a long time now. He served his prison sentence and he's not done nothing since he came out to suggest that he'll fall back into old habits. No matter how ardently you hate him for what he did, I hope you can at least pull for his change. If he's come out of this a better, wiser person and can become an asset to an NFL team again, the very least I can do is hope he's successful. Sometimes we come out of our most transformative periods as unrecognizable people, and the grudge I hold against the old Vick isn't necessarily how I feel about the (hopefully) new one. The success of our new franchise quarterback and the team in general makes it easier to say that, I expect.
The $7 million cap hit will come this year, and then the team will erase the last vestiges of Michael Vick's stay on this team. He will always be a part of our history for better or worse, but now he'll have a chance to revive his career somewhere else, and we'll have a chance to bury the hellish mess that was the 2007 season. The future is a brilliant horizon for we Falcons fans, and I'm only too ready to embrace it.
Because I'm an English major, I have to leave you with a quote:
"We need not destroy the past. It is gone." --John Cage