Shutdown Corner - NFL

With yesterday's conditional reinstatement, NFL teams are now free and clear to make Michael Vick(notes) a member of their football organization. He can practice, he can participate in training camp and he can be the NFL's only reason why anyone would want to watch a preseason game.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of teams out there don't care about a man's criminal past, as long as they believe he can help them on the field. I don't believe, either, that too many NFL teams are afraid of PETA, animal rights protesters, or alienating animal-loving fans.

What I do think teams are afraid of, though, is a constant barrage of microphones in their face, asking about Michael Vick, asking about his role on the offense, asking if he's going to play quarterback, asking about the off-the-field issues listed above.

In effect, a team that signs Vick is signing a huge distraction. And since he may not be eligible to play in a regular season game until week six, there will be more questions available than answers. People will ask those questions, again and again and again, until everyone in the organization is sick of it.

Imagine a team like San Francisco (and they said they're not interested, but they still make a fine example) where Vick could possibly compete for the starting quarterback position. Would you want your other two  quarterbacks constantly barraged with Mike Vick questions? Do you think that's good for a young signal-caller's confidence? If a quarterback comes out in week one and throws three interceptions, do you want every fan in the city chanting "Michael Vick!" and calling into sports radio talk shows and demanding that he play? Do you want those questions at press conferences?

Some teams are in a better position than others to handle it. If Vick were to sign with, say, New England, you know he's not going to be a starting quarterback. He's probably not going to see much of the field, period. And there's enough of a disciplined, veteran structure in place (not to mention other media magnets like Tom Brady(notes) and Randy Moss(notes)) so that the team can minimize a media distraction.

Most teams aren't that lucky, though, and can't afford to bring a huge media distraction upon themselves. If Vick ends up finding it difficult to latch on somewhere, I believe that will be the reason behind it.

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