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Vick's plight hits worldwide

By By John Whiting

Published: 9:04AM Wednesday August 29, 2007 Source: ONE Sport

For those of you who aren't too familiar with the NFL, chances are you have still heard of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick's superstar status has spread worldwide since he was drafted out of Virginia Tech in 2001, and that's why his fall from grace is all the more painful for football fans.

On Tuesday Vick pleaded guilty for his role in a sickening dogfighting ring which spread across several states in the US.

The charges will see him face jail time, possibly for up to five years behind bars.

And with the worldwide media coverage his case has been getting, you might be wondering - why should I care?

Here's why you should care

I can't think of a much worse scenario for such a high profile player.

The first draft pick in 2001, Vick was the face of the NFL - young and exciting with a great personality, hard-working mentality and freakish athleticism.

The things he can do on the field made people interested in the sport, and his arrival in Atlanta pulled the franchise out of the mire and gave fans something to cheer about.

The biggest reason the 27-year-old was such an instant hit in the NFL was his ability to break the mould of a traditional quarterback.

Vick is in no way a pocket passer, instead he can light up even the best defences with his mobility and quick feet.

He was the saviour for an entire sport, capturing imaginations around the world.

Kiwi comparison

To put this into perspective, Vick was to the NFL what Dan Carter is to New Zealand rugby.

I can't even stand to imagine what a devastating blow it would be if Carter was ever in similar legal trouble.

Both players are leaders for their teams, and they serve as role models for young kids who look up to their heroes.

But Vick's actions have let down every football fan around the world, especially this sport journalist who is now too ashamed to wear his Atlanta No.7 jersey.

How much damage has Vick done?

A lot.

Not only were his actions criminal, they were sickening, with reports Vick oversaw acquaintances fighting dogs to the death.

His cohorts also killed underperforming animals by shooting, drowning, hanging and slamming them to the ground.

The startling revelations aren't likely to put fans off the sport, but they will tarnish the NFL's reputation.

Not to mention the hurt he has caused his most avid fans that have followed him throughout his career.

The question is, why would a young star with so much talent and success make such a reprehensible mistake?

Well, this may be a problem such a huge competition like the NFL will always have.

With stars earning millions and millions of dollars each year, there are always going to be a select few who let the money take them over.

Will he be back?

It depends how long he is in jail.

The American public are quick to forgive their fallen stars, and love a good comeback story.

If Vick gets around 12 months behind bars, as is expected, he will still be in top physical shape to re-enter the NFL.

Whether any team will want him will be a different story.

For mine, there's no way he can go back to Atlanta, the franchise must completely wash its hands of the star.

But I am positive that at least one team would be prepared to take a punt on him despite his history, I mean look at wide receiver Terrell Owens.

It was widely known what problems Owens had with past teams, but his talent was enough to entice the Dallas Cowboys to sign him after a public spat with the Philadelphia Eagles saw him released.

I hope for the sake of the NFL and its fans worldwide we see Vick back.

He has the chance to atone for his mistakes, and that can only be good for the sport.