- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Peter King wrote recently about the possibility of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick playing in the new United Football League, which is scheduled to begin play in 2009. In some ways, the logic makes a lot of sense. Vick is supposed to be released from prison in July 2009 and it's likely he'll be suspended by the NFL, maybe even permanently. An NFL suspension also would prevent Vick from playing in the Canadian Football League.
That leaves the UFL, which will begin play around the time Vick is expected to be released from prison. UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue told King the chances of Vick signing with a UFL team are 98 percent.
I can see why Huyghue might want Vick. He'd be a big name for a new league that needs hype and money after failing to make a planned launch this year because of financial issues. I knew Huyghue in his days as a personnel executive for the Jacksonville Jaguars and when he was an agent for NFL players and he's a smart and shrewd businessman. Vick could bring attention to and sell tickets for the UFL.
But Huyghue also is a decent and ethical guy, and I have to wonder if he's thought this scenario out thoroughly. The attention that would come with Vick wouldn't be all positive. In fact, it might be overwhelmingly negative. If Vick joins a team, you can count on animal-rights activists picketing stadiums and organizing boycotts. Vick could do more harm than good for an upstart league.
It's more than ironic that Huyghue made the comments to King while the commissioner was scouting Carolina Panthers third quarterback Brett Basanez, who might be one of those guys who just needs some playing time to get his career going. Basanez is about as different from Vick as you can get.
Basanez isn't a super athlete, but he's got moxie and is known by his teammates as the biggest gym rat at Bank of America Stadium. Basanez is exactly the kind of guy I'd want to sign for my team. Basanez is the kind of guy fans would love because he's a miniature Brett Favre (before the un-retirement) and his down-to-earth personality and sense of humor would play well with fans and media.
But, then again, this isn't a fair world. A commissioner or owner of a new team is going to look at Vick's arm and legs, remember what he was and get blinded by the possibilities -- even if it ends up destroying the team or the league.