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Michael Vick Is Finished

Why is it like this?
Why the ** should I care?
I don't have the answers
Or at least the ones you wanna hear...
--C-Rayz Walz

Remember, if you will, where you were when the Falcons drafted Michael Vick. Were you watching the draft on the grainy TV at the bar? Did you read about it the next morning in the paper? Do you remember if you were overjoyed with the news?

For a lot of us, Vick represented promise. He was a franchise quarterback for a team that had never really had one. He had more ability in one of his legs than guys like Akili Smith had in their entire bodies. I could go on, just like fans and team officials and pundits did back when it was still relevant to consider Michael Vick as the next great thing in the NFL. For a team that had never had back to back winning seasons and only one Super Bowl appearance, he looked like a godsend. You had to be cautious, rooting for a player with that much potential, but at the time I couldn't find anything wrong with throwing myself bodily onto the Vick bandwagon.

And he was exciting. Even last season when so many fans were raising the growing chorus against Vick, he had those passes that looked like they were launched by NASA and the runs where you just knew nobody could catch him. He always showed the fans and coaching staff just enough so that we could all say "one more year, he's going to get it." Even after Dan Reeves was gone and Jim Mora passed uneventfully through, there was still a little part of me that believed he could be a special quarterback. Most of the time I could tell myself I'd given up, but I hadn't. You can never really give up on someone with Michael Vick's talent. Yet with jail time looming and our former QB pleading guilty to completely depraved charges, I have given up. I've given up not just on Mike Vick the person, but Mike Vick the player. There's  little doubt that he's not coming back from that.

So here I sit, like many of you likely are, asking myself the same useless questions. I want to understand what made him throw his career and life away like an errant pass. I want to ask him if he ever really gave a damn about the Falcons, about Arthur Blank, about the fans. I want to know if he even thought about those things when he was down in the pit, as he now has finally forced himself to admit he was. Maybe I don't even want the answers, and when Vick inevitably has a book out in ten years I doubt I'll read it. But it's so troubling to me on so many levels to see someone I idolized--however briefly--reduced to this.

Ready yourselves for a few months full of sound and fury, as well. I've already gotten an e-mail from a PETA spokeswoman that said the group will be lobbying to add cruelty to animals to the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy, so there's a chance something more sweeping will come of this. You can also bet that there will still be people who think Vick should hang and some who will protest and say he's innocent. What will be lost in all this is that Michael Vick has almost certainly lost his job with the Falcons, the NFL, and who knows where else. The team will likely try to cut him, the NFL will either suspend or ban him, and he will be a pariah everywhere his steps land over the next few years. I don't pity Vick for getting himself into this situation, and I don't think anyone should make the mistake of feeling sorry for someone who threw away so much for so little. But I do feel for Vick the human being in the face of how radically his life has changed.

At the most basic level, however, I'm angry. I'm pissed off because I'm a Falcons fan who once again has to deal with a team that's being dismissed before the season even starts, all because we lost one electrifying player who never lived up to his potential in the first place. Mike Vick left his former team blowing in the wind. They'll go on without him and try to make the best of a bad situation, and so will we fans. It'll just have to be without the familiar sight of the #7 jersey on the field.

This time, we can't say one more year.