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Lowell Cohn: Raiders should sign Michael Vick (w/video)

  • Free Agency Football

You bet he would. He might even be ideal.

Vick is an exciting quarterback. He used to be the most exciting quarterback in the league. He runs fast. He can be an accurate thrower. He is exciting in the way Colin Kaepernick is exciting. Well, he used to be. He's older now, 33, and he's been hit a lot, crushed actually, and he may have slowed down, may have declined. But he still is better than any quarterback the Raiders have.

Some Vick history: In 2010, the Associated Press and the Sporting News named him Comeback Player of the Year. Last season, a low point for him, he beat out Nick Foles as the Eagles' starter in head-to-head competition. But he eventually lost the starting job to Foles because he was hurt for an extended period. He played only seven games. In his first two games — when he was healthy — his passer ratings were 112.6 and 123.4. In his third game he ran for 99 yards. Those are elite numbers. The Raiders could use something elite.

Look, the Raiders will lose 10 or 11 games next season. Better to lose with a big-name quarterback than the usual boring suspects — poor Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor. And please don't recommend signing Matt Schaub, truly a dreadful practitioner of the quarterback art with no arm and no mobility. The Raiders will have a mediocre offensive line and Vick, at the very least, could run away from pressure some of the time.

Vick will be the most famous Raider the minute general manager Reggie McKenzie signs him. There is no other famous Raider. If you disagree, name one. McKenzie has signed a bunch of older free agents to short-term contracts, something he seems to specialize in. Oh, he re-signed running Darren McFadden who will play a game or two before going down with a bad hamstring, a painful toe, a hangnail, a sniffle — you name it. The Raiders are strictly a team of nobodies.

Vick would fix that. If the Raiders sign him, there will be stories about Vick on television and in the papers and on the Internet. The Raiders will have national publicity for the first time in a long time. They will sell out games on the basis of Vick wearing the silver and black.

Writers will write the Michael Vick Rebirth Story. You know all about the rebirth story. They wrote rebirth stories about Terrell Owens every time he went to yet another team. The Michael Vick Rebirth Story will say he needed a change of venue to find his true Vickitude, and he found it in Oakland, and he will reach back into the past and become a running, throwing phenomenon. People love the rebirth story — it speaks to all of us, gives us hope. Sometimes, it's even true.

With Vick rebirth is a relevant topic. In a sense, he came back from the dead. You know what he did. There was that horrifying episode involving dog fighting and dog murdering and illegal gambling. Vick previously had such a terrific image — he's a handsome guy — and America discovered the other side of his face, an ugly side. And America hated him. America had the right.

I argued in this column against his readmission to the National Football League. I need to be upfront about that. I wrote the league does not owe Vick a job and it would be bad for the league's image to employ him and it would be immoral. I still do not approve of Vick. Why should I like him?

But, I also recognize he got in serious trouble seven years ago and he sat in the slammer 21 months and, after that, he did two months home detention, and he got run out of Atlanta, and declared bankruptcy and generally was brought low. He did his time and he's made his peace with pro-animal groups — he partners with the Humane Society. I'm saying he paid his debt to society, did his penance. This, too, is the American way. You pay your debt, you can get a second chance. He may even be a good guy. Anything is possible.


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