I think there's a one in four chance Michael Vick will be playing in San Francisco this fall. But it will be for Dennis Green and the San Francisco/Sacramento UFL franchise not Mike Singletary and the NFL 49ers. The UFL seems like the perfect situation for both Vick and the NFL:
- The four-team league's inaugural season doesn't begin until October, which would give Vick more time to readjust and get his affairs in order.
- It would be a perfect compromise for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is torn between giving Vick a second chance and maintaining his law and order persona. The UFL would be a test run or stepping stone for Vick. If he passes the test, he gets reinstated for the 2010 season.
- The UFL, not the NFL, would absorb the almost certain backlash that Vick would attract.
- It would give Vick plenty of time to regain his former form. Those prison-yard games are tough (see: Longest Yard, The; '74 version) but it's doubtful Vick is in NFL shape right now.
I had a chance to talk about Vick with Allen Rossum, who knows Vick better than anyone on the 49ers having played five seasons with him in Atlanta. Rossum said he has sent messages of encouragement in Vick's direction. And he said Vick's possible reinstatement has been a hot topic in the 49ers locker room.
What is your feeling about giving someone like Michael Vick a second chance?
AR: I don't see why he doesn't deserve a second chance. I think a lot of things have been done and a lot of people have made mistakes. One thing about America - we are a country of second chances, especially in the sports arena. I don't want to name the other players' names or the different sports' names, but everyone can think of something that someone's done in every sport and they got a second chance. Now I'm a dog lover. I don't own dogs. Mike knows how I feel about dogs. I think he knows and realizes he made a mistake. He realizes that people who were around him were not in his best interest. I think he's learned from it. Unfortunately, he had to learn behind bars, he couldn't learn from it out here with the rest of it. I think he's coming out of it as a better man, more mature, and I don't see why he doesn't deserve a second chance.
Is there a sense that players want to see him back on the field to see whether he can still perform?
AR: I'm sure he does. It's like riding a bike. It's funny. I've only been in awe of maybe three players I've played against or played with. I played against Barry Sanders and I was just like, 'Wow. Did you see that move?' I played against Deion Sanders and he seemed to take everything back (for a touchdown) against us, including a punt on Monday night in Atlanta, and Michael Vick from the number of plays he made against us not only in practice but especially during the game. Those three guys are the ones that I've played against and have been just like, 'Wow. Did you see that?' He is one of those guys. I think he'll get back in the groove of things. He may be a little bit rusty but he'll be fine."
Are you close enough to him where you have sent him messages of encouragement?
AR: Well, I haven't personally talked to him or texted him, but I have sent messages through mutual friends who we are both very close to. I think we are still close. I still support him as a man. I don't support the action that he did, of course. But just like if I had a brother who made a mistake, I'm still going to love him, still consider him a brother. Hopefully he has learned from it. And I'll try to help him learn from it. If asks me or needs me, I'll try to guide him in the right direction. That's what I think he needs."
-- Matt Barrows