It’s perhaps the worst idea of all time, right up there with new Coke, Milli Vanilli’s singing career (even though the songs were rather catchy) and the drafting of Akili Smith. Sean McClelland, a writer for the Dayton Daily News “semi-seriously” believes that the Bengals should sign Mike Vick. My response? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. N-O. NO! I think McClelland is joking. I hope so.
Here are McClelland’s five reasons (in italics), followed by my counterpoints. Hopefully, McClelland has since changed his mind and his article was the direct byproduct of a mind-altering substance, perhaps an accidental exposure to paint fumes. Whatever the case, I’m doing my part to eradicate the idea before Mike Brown gets to it. Assuming, of course, it’s not already too late.
1. Team owner Mike Brown describes himself as a redeemer, and what better way to polish that image than by hiring a cat who tortured dogs for several years. Vick would fit right in with scofflaws such as Chris Henry, Tank Johnson and Bernard Scott, the rookie running back who’s been arrested five times.
Counterpoint: Yes, we all know Mike Brown sees himself as Mother Theresa and will be applying for sainthood sometime soon. But that doesn’t mean his reclamation projects are a good idea. More often than not, they turn out like Wile E. Coyote’s implements of death. At best, Brown should limit his savior attempts to one per year and he’s already used one by drafting Bernard Scott, he of the reported five arrests. Secondly, just because the Bengals have some shady characters on the team doesn’t mean they should actively recruit any more. Maybe they could get Jeffrey Dahmer to return punts. And Charles Manson to long-snap. And I’m sure O.J. Simpson has some yards left on those legs…
2. Vick was quite an athlete before going up the river, and with the so-called “wildcat” formation now all the rage across the league, he could play some at running back or receiver in addition to backing up Carson Palmer.
Counterpoint: Leavenworth prison isn’t exactly the U.S. Olympic training facility. Who knows if Vick has retained any of his athletic abilities? And even if he has, he has a career completion percentage below 55-percent, which isn’t exactly Pro Bowl material. The Wildcat is best used by teams with average quarterbacks (Miami Dolphins) and mediocre receiving corps (Miami Dolphins again), not teams with one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. Can you see Tom Brady or Peyton Manning coming off the field this season? I can’t and Palmer is in that league when he’s healthy and not getting his nose broken or elbow lacerated by defenders. Furthermore, the Wildcat is best as an element of surprise, one that I think defensive coordinators will have prepared for this season.
3. It would be a great story line for HBO. Let’s face it. A team that invites “Hard Knocks” to training camp can’t be all that worried about the distractions of PETA picketers and other protesters.
Counterpoint: The Bengals are trying to win football games, not an Emmy. The “Hard Knocks” thing is probably a bad idea to begin with, but let’s not make it worse. Maybe the Bengals should script a quarterback competition between the Palmer brothers to drive up ratings. Maybe Chad Ochocinco should change his name again to Chad Fünfundachtzig to recruit German fans. Get real. This is the NFL, not Entourage.
4. The fuss will subside eventually. If Vick stays clean and starts contributing to victories, the Bengals will be hailed as visionaries rather than villains for giving an ex-con a chance.
Counterpoint: If, if, if, if, if, if, if, if. Bengals fans have been saying this for years. If Scott Mitchell plays well. If David Klingler pans out. If Ki-Jana Carter can recover from his knee injury. The Bengals have been gambling on personnel moves since the mid-1990s and have lost more often than a drunken frat boy in Las Vegas. This move would carry a lot more risk than potential reward. Vick is more likely to be an average football player (at best) with a mountain of baggage, than some sort of savior who takes the team over the top.
5. What does this downtrodden franchise possibly have to lose? It’s not like the esprit de corps of a winner is at stake.
Counterpoint: What does this team possibly have to lose? I don’t know, 16 games? A chance at making the playoffs? Even more respect in the minds of everyone? Call me crazy, but I think this team has finally made some progress. Arrests are down. Personnel is improved. Dare I say it, there are reasons for optimism. No need to jeopardize all that by taking a chance on a convicted felon and an admitted dog fighter. The Bengals have enough problems already without Vick around (like that pass rush for one, and that re-tooled offensive line…
My Spanish might need a little work, but “No quiero Ron Mexico.” Remember, that was Mike Vick too.