I have considered several things over the past couple of days because of this recent buzz about Michael Vick returning to the NFL. The foremost consideration is that Vick has yet to be re-instated to the NFL! All the talking heads are speculating about which teams would take him, but he’s not even eligible to be added to a roster in ANY capacity. I think the whole situation is endemic of the NFL’s problem. Granted, the number of NFL teams calling me for personnel decisions is few(none), but it always amazes me that the NFL is a specimen first league, regardless of how every year draft pundits warn about drafting workout specialists and physical freaks. While the NFL is obviously the desired landing point for every 6’4” tall, 280 pound-weighing, 40″ vertical-jumping, 50 rep bench-pressing, 4.60 40 yard dash time-running specimen, when did the NFL stop being a landing point for football players. Doesn’t anyone see the unmeasurables? Those who don’t stack up well but win games?
I read an interesting speculation by SI’s Peter King about where Joe Montana would have been drafted today:
I’m not measuring arm strength, obviously. But I’m dead serious when I ask this question: If Joe Montana, who was a third-round pick 30 years ago, came out today, how many teams would declare him either undraftable or a free-agent only?
Granted players with these traits are in the NFL, but the circuitous route seems excessive. James Harrison’s path to the NFL is well-documented; it took him forever! How many quality years did he waste to get to the NFL? On the other hand the argument can be made that he would not be the player he was today if it were not for the fact he had to fight so hard to get there. In lieu of making a litany of examples I’ll merely say that for my money, there should be as much a place in the NFL for a Zach Thomas or a London Fletcher etc., etc., as there is for anyone else. It seems that the NFL is merely betting on the field. Draft enough freakish athletes and you’ll eventually find one who can play football. How about looking for football players first and seeing if they are athletic enough? And just playing football does not make you a football player!
Back to Vick. Why would any NFL team take a chance on someone who has just spent 19 months NOT being in the NFL? He’s not ready for game speed, not this season anyway. Then what? He’ll be 30 in two years! The speed that was his ONLY calling card will have left him. Then he has to rely on his arm which, while impressive, never completed passes at a rate that merits a permanent starting job in the NFL. People are saying that he should be used as a gimmick player, I have one question: Why? He’s a veteran and therefore commands a higher base salary. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a young, hungry player on any practice squad and use him for trick plays or, GOD FORBID, in the dreaded WILDCAT(Obviously much more could be said about this, needless to say I think that the WILDCAT is an excuse for commentators to run their mouths and not actually a legitimate threat to the NFL establishment). MARK MY WORDS: Pat White will find time as a receiver and not a thrower. He won games at WVU not because of a superior arm, but because his quickness bought him time, yards, and hesitation in opposing defenses!!!! We’re talking about gambling on a quarterback past his prime, two years removed from the game with a history of behavioral problems. Money would be better spent elsewhere.