At­lanta Fal­cons are now try­ing to move on

With Vick plea, Fal­cons look ahead

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

FLOWERY BRANCH— The At­lanta Fal­cons are hurt and con­fused.

They’re strug­gling to com­pre­hend how the guy they knew as a star on the field and a friend in the locker room could have got­ten him­self into this much trou­ble.

At least the un­cer­tainty is gone. The play­ers who once lined up with Michael Vick know he’s gone — and prob­a­bly never com­ing back.

The Fal­cons have no choice but to move on, though Vick’s de­ci­sion Mon­day to plead guilty to fed­eral dog­fight­ing charges will have long-range ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

In­stead of hav­ing one of the NFL’s most dy­namic play­ers, At­lanta must turn over the quar­ter­back po­si­tion to for­mer No. 3 over­all pick Joey Har­ring­ton, a flop in both Detroit and Mi­ami.

Down the road, there will be ma­jor salary cap is­sues to ad­dress as the Fal­cons deal with the left­overs of Vick’s $130 mil­lion con­tract.

Vet­er­ans such as Dunn, of­fen­sive tackle Wayne Gandy and line­backer Keith Brook­ing, all in their 30s and ea­ger to play with a con­tender, sud­denly find them­selves on a team that ev­ery­one is pick­ing to be one of the worst in the league.

The Fal­cons prac­ticed for just un­der two hours Tues­day, try­ing to carry on as if it was busi­ness as usual.

Coach Bobby Petrino ad­dressed the sit­u­a­tion with his team, gaug­ing their feel­ings and try­ing to get a han­dle on how they wanted to ex­press it.

Some play­ers wanted to talk with the me­dia. Some didn’t.

Petrino said any gag or­ders were self-im­posed.

“I told them there would be a num­ber of guys to­day that spoke with the me­dia,” the first-year coach said. “Some guys didn’t feel like they wanted to. That’s fine. I have no prob­lem with that.”

Tight end Alge Crum­pler seemed most pas­sion­ate about Vick’s predica­ment. They came into the league the same year and Crum­pler quickly emerged as Vick’s fa­vorite re­ceiver. Now, it looks as though they’ll never hook up on other pass­ing play again.

Vick is likely to be sen­tenced to at least a year in prison — and prob­a­bly longer — af­ter he en­ters his guilty plea next week. He also faces cer­tain pun­ish­ment from NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell un­der a tougher per­sonal con­duct pol­icy that went into ef­fect this year. Vick is likely to miss at least two sea­sons be­fore he can even think about a come­back.

Vick is only 27 and likely to miss some of his best years, but his young age leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity that he’ll be able to re­sume his ca­reer, even if it’s with an­other team.

His one-time team­mates hope he’ll learn from his egre­gious mis­takes and come back a stronger, bet­ter per­son.

The Fal­cons won’t be mak­ing an im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion on Vick’s fu­ture, hav­ing been asked by the NFL to hold off un­til the league gets a re­port from its own in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

That hasn’t stopped some play­ers from try­ing to reach out to Vick, of­fer­ing sup­port as he faces the pos­si­bil­ity of a lengthy prison term.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.