Off-field issues continue for Vick

Michael Vick, who had a string of bizarre off-field incidents this week, needs to be more accountable, writes Len Pasquarelli.

Updated: April 27, 2007, 12:09 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

It has not been a very good week for Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, and that means it's been a problematic few days for owner Arthur Blank, who prides himself on the image that his team and his players project. Blank can't be happy that Vick was in the news for a string of bizarre incidents this week.

The first was on Tuesday, when the quarterback missed a Congressional breakfast where he was to be honored for his work with kids. Seems that Vick, who played in a charity golf tournament Monday in Tampa, Fla., hosted by teammate Warrick Dunn, missed his connection in Atlanta that night because his originating flight was late. But officials from AirTran, the airline Vick has a promotional deal with, revealed through a spokesman that the star quarterback was rebooked on a 10:50 flight that evening, and that he simply failed to show up for it. When the airline that is paying you an endorsement fee throws you under the bus -- or in the case of AirTran, under the airbus -- it can't be a good thing.

Quarterback
Atlanta Falcons

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2006 SEASON STATISTICS
Att Comp Yds TD Int Rat
388 204 2171 20 13 75.7
Then on Wednesday night came news that property Vick owns in Virginia (but does not reside in) was raided for drugs and officials found 60 dogs, some of them in poor health. As of Friday morning, Vick had not been charged in the potential animal cruelty and abuse case.

On Thursday, the quarterback had to appear for a misdemeanor trespassing charge for allegedly fishing in a private lake. OK, kind of silly, for sure, but in light of the events that preceded it this week, not as trivial as it should have been.

Vick is a lightning rod on the field, but if his off-field issues continue, he may become even more of a liability. Last season, Vick shot two middle fingers at the Georgia Dome crowd as he exited the field following a loss. The action drew a $20,000 fine from the league. And then earlier this spring, Vick was involved in an incident in Miami in which he allegedly attempted to get through airport security with a water bottle that featured a hidden compartment. Early in his career, Vick habitually blew off team functions at which he was scheduled to appear.

This will be his seventh season in the league and it is time for Vick, as Blank probably will agree, to become more accountable for his off-field actions. And if he can't, then it might be time for Blank to find another franchise centerpiece.

Blank has brought some of this on himself by serving as a kind of surrogate father to Vick at times. One of the most notorious pictures in Atlanta remains the photo of the owner pushing the quarterback around Texas Stadium in a wheelchair when Vick broke his ankle in 2003. But the blame can't all be lumped on the owner. It will be interesting to see in coming weeks just where the Virginia case goes and if Vick comes under league scrutiny. Commissioner Roger Goodell has demonstrated that he won't tolerate off-field issues. Any kind of sanctions against Vick, one of the league's most recognizable and marketable stars, would have a chilling effect.

Vick is scheduled to be in New York on Saturday for the NFL's tribute to the victims at Virginia Tech, the college he played for from 1999-2000. Goodell, who acknowledged to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the quarterback's absence at the Congressional breakfast might "reflect poorly on him," might have a few words with the Atlanta star.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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