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 Post subject: Falcons stuck in their own version of Groundhog Day
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:40 am 
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By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
August 22, 2007


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Alge Crumpler walked into the crowded room, looked around at all the media and quipped, "We do this once again."

And again and again and again.

The Atlanta Falcons are caught in their own version of Groundhog Day. And, thanks to Michael Vick, it's not likely to end anytime soon.

What happens if Joey Harrington has a poor game? What happens if the Falcons get stuck in a losing streak? What happens if Matt Schaub plays well for the Houston Texans?

All those scenarios lead back to Vick, whose stunning fall from grace has left his one-time teammates facing a season's worth of questions and no chance of scrambling away, as their former quarterback did so many times when faced with a would-be tackler.

"I'd be lying to you if I said we don't watch TV," Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking said Tuesday. "I mean, you can't turn the channel without hearing about it."

Even if Vick, as expected, never plays another game for Atlanta, his decision to plead guilty to federal dogfighting charges will hang over this franchise all season -- and perhaps for years to come.

Instead of having one of the NFL's most dynamic players, the Falcons must turn over the quarterback position to Harrington, a flop in both Detroit and Miami. There are the inevitable questions about the wisdom of trading Schaub, a highly regarded backup, just weeks before a dogfighting operation was discovered on Vick's property. Finally, there will be major salary cap issues to address as the Falcons deal with the leftovers of Vick's $130 million contract.

"This is unprecedented," Brooking said. "It's never happened before. For us to sit here and try to reconcile that or try to figure it out from Mike's perspective, it's very confusing."

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

"He's not on the team," running back Warrick Dunn said. "That pretty much makes him an ex-teammate."

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

Some wanted to talk. Some didn't.

"They've got me under a gag order," said outspoken cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a teammate of Vick's at both Virginia Tech and with the Falcons.


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."

Crumpler seemed most passionate about Vick's predicament. They came into the league the same year, and Crumpler quickly emerged as the quarterback'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 perhaps 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 expected to miss at least two seasons before he can even think about a comeback.

"Mike is very human," Crumpler said. "I think this whole ordeal has kind of dehumanized him for the last couple of months. But he's hurting. I do know that. That's a fact. He is hurting."

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 Atlanta teammates hope he'll learn from his egregious mistakes and come back a stronger, better person.

"Michael is loyal to a fault," Crumpler said. "I think that really hurt him in this situation."

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. Crumpler and offensive tackle Wayne Gandy have both been sending frequent text messages, trying to let the quarterback know that he's not alone.

"It's kind of hard," Gandy conceded. "You don't really know what to say."

"I try to send him a positive note every day," Crumpler added. "I want to make sure he keeps his head up."

Still, there's no getting away from the lurid allegations in the indictment: dogs being electrocuted and drowned when they didn't show enough fighting spirit, some of them reportedly killed by Vick himself.

"It's disturbing, obviously," Dunn said. "That someone of his caliber would be associated with that -- that's the troubling part."

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Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:45 am 
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The Groundhog Day phenom with the Falcons started long before Vick got here...or was even born, for that matter. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 12:02 pm 
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My feelings about the past, concerning my sports teams....is just that...it is in the past. Let's just say the Falcons had lucked out in the early 80's when they had some pretty good teams. Let's say they won a Super Bowl. We would have been crazy with joy. But unless we had teams like the Steelers or Cowboys, it would have been just one. But now it wouldn't mean all that much.

It is like my Braves. After weathering the rough years and then finally winning one in 1995 it felt great. Very, very happy. However the next year we lost to the Yanks, after being up 2-0. Not so happy. And of course, haven't won any more since. I really don't care that much about 1995. I want to win one in 2007.However being competitive is VERY important. Just being in the hunt.

The Falcons have some hope that once they get past the vick debacle, they still have a great owner, a good coach and some highly attractive players that should keep us competitive. That's all you can really hope for in the very tough league known as the NFL. There are formulas involved in creating dynasties...right now there is only one team in the NFL who has it right...the rest including us are looking to get it right. Putting Vick behind us, and getting reconnected to the right formula will get us back on the right track to being competitive.

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Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
Vince Lombardi

"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
Henry David Thoreau

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.

"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:38 pm 
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I tend to agree BB. 1998 has very little meaning to me nowadays. I don't really even remember anything in that game. I remember the Vikings and 49ers wins much more vividly than the Super Bowl itself. It feels like a very long time ago, and I remember feeling great about it the day after the Falcons beat Minnesota, but beyond that it has no real special place in my heart for me.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:47 pm 
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Sure. So when do you quit living in the past and change your avatar?

There is little to liken the Falcons and the Braves. We do have a good owner and possibly a god coach. the Braves may have lost in 96 but they were in the WS...as they were in 91, 92 and 99. Comparing that to a team that has been in one in 40 years is a stretch. You hate to admit it but with Vick we were competitive...or at least relative to most periods in our history. we were a flawed team, no doubt, but most are now days.

Though Vick's culpability in the demise of the franchise is undeniable the bigger issue is the people who gave him the keys to daddy's car. Vick's gone now so we will have to move on to other excuses for losing. Or will we continue to milk that one for a few years? As faulkner said (I paraphrase), th epast is always with us...in fact it isn't even past.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:14 pm 
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backnblack wrote:
Sure. So when do you quit living in the past and change your avatar?

There is little to liken the Falcons and the Braves. We do have a good owner and possibly a god coach. the Braves may have lost in 96 but they were in the WS...as they were in 91, 92 and 99. Comparing that to a team that has been in one in 40 years is a stretch. You hate to admit it but with Vick we were competitive...or at least relative to most periods in our history. we were a flawed team, no doubt, but most are now days.

Though Vick's culpability in the demise of the franchise is undeniable the bigger issue is the people who gave him the keys to daddy's car. Vick's gone now so we will have to move on to other excuses for losing. Or will we continue to milk that one for a few years? As faulkner said (I paraphrase), th epast is always with us...in fact it isn't even past.


But vick is still on our roster BNB...so the avatar is just reminder of a current situation. As long as vick is in the "Doghouse"..the avatar will hold a special place in my heart.

I wasn't comparing the Braves with the Falcons. I was comparing my feelings about how it felt to be in the hunt with the Braves, and how that's all i want from the Falcons.

I think Vicks impact on this franchise will be felt for years to come, in many different ways. As I have pointed out for years, it was just a matter of time. Especially after the huge contract. Considering you were part of the "cult of personality" ,I'm sure looking back on the situation you have a clear perspective of what went wrong. I have never said that it was all Vicks fault that we lost, but he did have a hand in it.

I don't make any comparisions between pre-Vick years, the vick years and post Vick years as we haven't gone there yet. You know one of the major beefs i had with him was his leadership skills, both on and off the field. The other of course was his lack of QB skills on a consistent basis.That's it....He was too easy to game plan for at the end...teams were talking him up before the games, then abusing him during the game...classic coaching IMHO.

It will take some time before we can see the differences. One thing is for sure though, a new wind is a blowin´....

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Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
Vince Lombardi

"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
Henry David Thoreau

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.

"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:45 pm 
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Yeah, I will certainly grant that Vick is not a natural leader. I'm not sure what you mean about my being a part of the cult of personality but, yes, I did find him to be an entertaining and compelling player and one who brought out the possibility of getting us to the dance if not winning it all. In the end, it was the ultimate tease, I guess. I still believe that a guy with his skill set would be the ultimate weapon. Just as people used to say if you could put Bobby Hebert's brain and heart into J. George's body he would be unstoppable i feel similarly about Vick although I feel Vick had a bit more, say, courage on the field than George. As I mentioned here a while back, he embodied the worst and best traits of the athletic arrogance that the organization seems to prize. So, in the end, I think the debacle lies at the feet of the organization. You don't blame a child for being spoiled. You blame his parents.

Everybody learned and got burned on this one. The Falcons organization has basically profited from the blind squirrel and a nut theorem. Rarely have they succeeded because they carefully laid out plans that came to fruition. Maybe they will now. Typically they operate from the PR POV (run and shoot, hiring a legendary coach, drafting Vick, etc. ) Since they have little choice but to look at an empty stadium this year maybe they will quit swinging for the fence and try to put an inning together. I'm a life either way so I hope for the best but, frankly, the Vick years have been the most consistently enjoyable I can recall since following the team. Sugar to shyt though. :lol:

BTW, if Vick is still on the roster someone needs to tell Warrick. :wink:


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