Michael Vick and the NFL Offseason

Washington Post Sports Editor Cindy Boren discusses possible next moves for the disgraced former NFL quarterback, who was released from federal prison today. Video by The Washington Post/photo by AP
Cindy Boren
Washington Post NFL Editor
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 1:00 PM

Post NFL Editor Cindy Boren was online Wednesday, May 20 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about Michael Vick's release from prison, which NFL teams might be interested in signing him and all the rest of the league's offseason news.

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A transcript follows.


Cindy Boren: Welcome to the spur-of-the-moment chat on what is Michael Vick's first day out of the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan. He's presently driving across America with his fiancee and security detail, heading for Hampton, Va., and two months of home confinement. After that...well, he'll need a job, won't he? Let's talk.


Anonymous: Can you walk us through a little more of what you think the whole process he'll have to go through to rehab his image is? Any idea how many different TV couches he's going to need to cry on before people start sympathizing with him?

washingtonpost.com: Video: Boren on Michael Vick Release (Washington Post, May 20)

Cindy Boren: Michael Vick is the mother of all sports reclamation projects. The key is to limit exposure and control the message. I'd start first with "60 Minutes," then send him to "Oprah" and let her give him the James Frey punishment. I'd finish up with ESPN. Sprinkled in with this would be a barrage of PSAs for dog shelters. I'd start all of this when my home confinement ended July 20...then I might have my people call Mr. Roger Goodell.


Washington, D.C.: Do we seriously have to put up with Vickshopping himself to any NFL team? Can we dump Vick on the CFL? Somewhere in Europe? Anywhere but here.

Cindy Boren: Yeah, you do. He has the right, after serving his time, to try to get a job in the NFL. The NFL has the right to suspend him or even ban him. NFL teams have the right to say no thanks if he's eligible. What's with the hatred of the folks to the north? What has Canada done to deserve this mess? Maybe Australia could become a penal colony...


Hampton, Va.: How do you think Vick will be received back home? Is there any sense of how Virginia feels about him being there, at home, with an ankle bracelet?

Cindy Boren: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in, right? People in that part of Virginia know Michael Vick. They know his family. He has roots there and I don't think he will be personna non grata. At least that was the feeling when he was being prosecuted.


Savannah, Ga.: Perhaps I'm naive, but I believe people can reform. You would think after all he's been through, Michael Vick understands the seriousness of what he's done. He's paid his debt, and I think he deserves a second chance at having a life. I don't believe he needs to be punished forever, and quite frankly, I don't know what purpose it would serve. We allow murderers of people to begin again, why not him too?

Cindy Boren: The difference is that he'd be resuming an extremely high-profile career, one that would put him in people's living rooms. Roger Goodell has said that NFL players are held to higher standards; he regards it as a privilege, not a right, to play in the league. I don't think Goodell or anyone would disagree with you: it's just that playing in the NFL is no ordinary job and we still haven't heard Vick really speak and show remorse yet.


Australia is a penal colony: Hey, we have Aussie Rules football. We don't believe in pads. Send him over. We'll see what kind of shape he's kept himself in ...

Cindy Boren: There you go. Hello, outback and I don't mean the bloomin'-onion place.


Arlington, Va.: How much can a team actually expect to get out of Vick this season? Do we have any idea of how "in shape" he is?

Cindy Boren: Good that we're moving on to Xs and Os. Vick's people have said that he's in great shape, but we don't know yet. He'll be 29 next month, but has only six years of wear and tear. If he satisfies the NFL commissioner's requirements and says the magic words, I'd think he could be in football shape by the start of the regular season. He won't be finished with home confinement until July 20 and has to be reinstated. If a team signed him in early August, he'd have over a month to learn the playbook and prepare. That's a timeline that is a perfect scenario. There are plenty of variables and unknowns.


Washington, D.C.: Is there any chance Michael Vick feels sorry for what he did (dog torture and murder, not just getting caught)? With all the focus on Wonderlic tests and how they predicate success in the NFL, maybe teams can try to figure out more about Vick's mental state before offering him a job?

Cindy Boren: I can't say what Michael Vick feels about what he did, but I cannot imagine doing what he did to an animal. As for the NFL, I have no doubt that the league will require that Vick undergo a psychological evaluation before reinstating him.


Humane Society: I was actually pleased when I saw that Vick had committed to work with the Humane Society to develop a campaign/program to help end dog fighting. Trust me, I'm not a Vick fan in any way (especially after seeing Dogtown with the Vick dogs), however, I kind of hope that he really turns it around and realizes the messed up (that's putting it nicely) things he did to those poor animals.

But I want him to do it without appearing on too many shows or on the cover of People with watery eyes. That seems disingenuous, maybe a more low profile redemption would serve him better. And I think if he can play in the NFL and hang with them, he should have the right to, as long as he stays out of trouble has displays a commitment to bettering himself.

Cindy Boren: You do a nice job of pointing out how tricky it is to get the right tone on the "Oh my God, what I did was so horrible, please forgive me and let me return to work" tour.


Arlington, Va.: While I believe that what Vick did was simply digusting and sickening, I also believe that he has also done his sentence and has the right to get on with his life.

In that regard, the real issue is what Roger Goodell will do.

Your guess?

Cindy Boren: I do believe Goodell when he says he hasn't made up his mind, that he wants to hear from Vick. I think he also wants to see how Vick fares over the next two months and what the public sentiment is. My sense? Vick will be allowed to return.


Thanks but no thanks: Can you name three NFL teams, based on owner/management that would simply not be interested in Vick because of the negative publicity and bad boy image? You can include any team, regardless of quarterback need - I'm wondering if thinking at the top affects his market.

washingtonpost.com: The League: Who Even Wants Him? (Washington Post, May 20)

Cindy Boren: The Atlanta Falcons and Arthur Blank are soooo done with him...but that was an easy one. I don't think any team would say that it categorically would not take him.


No Vick fan, but ...: I was at Virginia Tech when Vick was there and was never a fan of his as a person (although he was the star of the team, and everyone knew it). But, we as a society give other people breaks.

And even though I'm a huge animal person and can never understand how anyone can hurt animals, children, other people, etc. - if he did his time, shouldn't he be allowed to play again? I would prefer him to not be on my favorite team -- the Cowboys -- though.

Cindy Boren: People say they can accept his return "but not on my team." This is going to be the problem for any team that takes him on.


Washington, D.C.: Hey, If "swimmer boy" can stay in the pool - stay in his game, after admitted illegal drug use, then why not let Vick back in his game, too.

Cindy Boren: I would argue that Mr. Could My Swimsuit BE Any Skimpier did no harm to others, only to himself, by inhaling deeply.


I have no idea: Why the NFL is even going to waste their time with Vick? There are plenty of talented althletes waiting in the wings who would love the opportunity to play the game.

Everyone's expendable and Vick screwed up ... big time. I think any team who picked him up would be hit with huge fan-backlash. Why bother with all that? Just find someone new (or old) who can do his job.

Cindy Boren: While there are plenty of talented players, few have shown that they can compete at the highest level as an NFL QB. Vick had tremendous potential that was only beginning to be tapped. The talent pool for great NFL QBs really is very very shallow.


Chevy Chase, Md.: I keep hearing people say show remorse. Tell me how can Vick show remorse for what he did? As I recall he had a press conference and apologized for what he did. He served his time and lost millions of dollars. Don't you think that he feels stupid and remorseful for what he did? What else does he have to do?

Cindy Boren: He has to convince one man: Roger Goodell. He'll have to meet his definition of remorse.


Va.: I've heard women at work who are worried about Vick coming back because he's a bad role model. But men at work say he's a good player so he should play. Will the NFL just side with the general opinion of men, because they're the league's main clients?

Cindy Boren: Hmmmmm...the league would cringe at the notion that it doesn't care about the wimmenfolk. I really don't think gender considerations will play into this.


Hokie Parent: My daughter and son-in-law were in school during the Vick era. As a result I am a major Hokie football fan. My impression of Michael Vick is that he was a very immature, arrogant person who thought he was God's gift to football, who hung out with his homies instead of the team and seriously believed he did not have to obey the rules and the law. I had great hopes for him when he went to Atlanta, but quickly realized that he took this attitude to the NFL. Has anyone seen any evidence that he has matured enough to realize how self-destructive his behavior and attitude was and how his friends supported it?

Cindy Boren: No one has seen him yet. I think we have to reserve judgment for a while.


Rockville, Md.: On a separate note, didn't Goodell let Pacman Jones go to the Cowboys and then Jones screwed up again? Even if Vick served his time (not long enough in my opinion), his thug lifestyle probably is waiting for him in Hampton. Why would Goodell stake his reputation on Vick's recovery?

Cindy Boren: I don't believe Goodell will stake his reputation on it. I think it'll take a very solid case for him to allow Vick to return. And I wouldn't compare being convicted of a federal crime to anything Pac-Man did.


Washington, D.C.: As a dog owner I am having a tough time reconciling that people are actually asking whether Mike Vick should be able to play football after servicing his sentence. Unlike guys who have done a lot worse to people (Leonard Little) and not served any meaningful jail time, Vick has served his sentence. Why shouldn't he be allowed to ply his trade as he sees fit? To me, it's a non issue. I can understand how a team may not want him. But i can also see how it could serve as a great example of someone who made bad choices, got punished, served his time and became a better man for it. Isn't that the redemption story a team can hope for?

Cindy Boren: Leonard Little is a great example of a player who recovered.


Washington, D.C.: If Vick does return to the NFL, what are the chances he does so as something other than a quarterback? Passing was easily the weakest part of his game, and he might be more attractive as a kick return man or receiver. In addition to catering to his skill set, it would allow a team to take him on without him becoming the face of the franchise.

Cindy Boren: I think that's entirely possible. I don't see him being signed as a "face of the franchise;" he would have to work his way up to that (with an incentive-laden deal). Maybe he's a running back? I've gotten a lot of questions about the Wildcat and whether joining a team that uses it would be a possibility. My answer to that is why sign a guy just because he fits a gadget formation that may be passe in 2009?


Washington, D.C.: Vick and Plaxico Burress: It will be interesting to see how Goodell handles these two cases. True, Burress wasn't convicted of a federal crime, but he did take a loaded weapon into a crowded nightclub. Of course, Plaxico's case hasn't played out in court yet and in N.Y., they are very strict about handguns, even if you wind up shooting only yourself.

Cindy Boren: We haven't seen the Burress matter to a conclusion, but one could argue that Burress committed a crime of stupidity, while Vick was overtly malevolent.


Kensington, Md.: Go get him Danny boy! Don't ruin your reputation!

Cindy Boren: All righty, then. ... Seriously, could you stand to have him playing for your team -- whether it's the maroon-and-black or another? You can cast your vote at Redskins Insider or comment further at The League or on the Redskins Insider twitter feed. (Plug-o-rama!)


Arlington, Va.: I could see Belichick going for Vick on a one-year short-money deal. Vick plays a slash role there, and rehabs his reputation to grab a long-term deal next season. Smart play.

Or, I could see Daniel Snyder going six-years, $82 million to install Vick at quarterback now. Stupid play.

Cindy Boren: Your fears are as yet unfounded. Cling to that like a security bankie.


Springfield, Va.: How can you claim that Leonard Little is a person who recovered when, after killing a person in 1998, he was again arrested for drunk driving in 2004 (acquitted on a technicality)? You need to check your facts.

Cindy Boren: I would encourage you to look at his stats for 2005 and 2006, which were decent.


New York, N.Y.: Michael Vick was arrested, tried, convicted, punished, and has now served his punishment. He is free to live his life, and have a career again.

But I don't have to like him or even wish him well. It's my prerogative not to like the guy and I don't want him on my Redskins ever. I hate that he's even from the same state as I'm from.

Cindy Boren: Thanks for you comment.


Washington, D.C.: I'm for giving Mr. Vick another chance, but with a caveat: That he sign with a team in that has a better ability to monitor its players, especially in the offseason.

Cindy Boren: I wouldn't monitor him any more closely than any other player. He has to make it on his own. No babysitting or coddling.


Washington, D.C.: How much of Michael Vick's image problem comes from the fact that he was the quarterback of a team, and had to be the face of the franchise. What would have happened if he was just an anonymous lineman?

Cindy Boren: He would have had a lot cheaper legal team. He might still be in the big house and no one would notice that he was out. There'd be a few outlets that'd find him and write about him, but that would be it. Of course, he could also more easily re-enter the NFL....


Zygi Wilf: Will my fans kill me if I bring in Vick? He's better than Tavaris Jackson, right?

Cindy Boren: Zyg, why not? You've gotten past the party-boat thing; you've got experience. He could help you...although I thought you were getting Favre.


Bethesda, Md.: What would Michael Vick's first tweet since getting out of jail say?

Cindy Boren: I wonder if he knows about twitter....if he tweeted, I'd recommend, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."


Ashburn, Va.: Ok, gotta ask. Is there any way he ends up with the Redskins? Any way? As a wildcat quarterback?

Cindy Boren: Oh, there's always a way...He doesn't strike me as being Zorn's style of QB. I don't think Zorn could teach him the way he so clearly likes to do. But one never knows. As for the 'cat, see my comments above.


Mr. Tony: Cindy,

Let's get to the important matter of the day. I know you are boys with the orange one himself. When can we expect him back on the radio? Will his presence revive Washington Post radio?

washingtonpost.com: Talking Points Video: - Tony Kornheiser on his Time With Monday Night Football (Washington Post, May 20)

Cindy Boren: I can never resist a question about the Orange One. Wilbon says he'll be back on by Aug. 1, I say Sept. 1. We've split the difference: Aug. 15. I think it'd take two paddles and an electrical substation to revive WaPo radio. Clear!


Cindy Boren: And with that, I bid you ta-ta. Thanks for chatting and sending such smart (and sometimes) funny questions. See you at The League, Redskins Insider and Redskins Insider twitter feed. (Plug!)


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