Michael Vick Rebounds: Becomes Model Employee After Conviction?

Nick Fishman

Then                                                                               Now

By now everyone knows the saga of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick.  After being convicted on dog fighting charges, he served 2 years in federal prison, during which time he was dismissed by his current employer, the Atlanta Falcons.  Upon his release, many wondered if any NFL team would sign him and if so, would that team have enough faith in him to make him the focal point of their offense.  Many also wondered if he had truly changed and if he could stay out of trouble.  Now, I know athletes seeking employment bear very little resemblance to those of us in the regular working world.  After all, if I had been convicted of the same felonies, I can’t imagine how many employers would hiring me after conducting a background check.  But I thought that Vick’s transformation was worth looking at.

While Vick was in prison, he sought help from then-Indianapolis Colts head coach, Tony Dungy.  Dungy mentored him while in prison and helped him get his life in order after he was released.  He prepared Vick for the fact that most NFL teams would not be interested in his services and if so, most likely would not use him as a starter.  He also let Vick know that there would be no more second chances.  He had one opportunity to prove his past was behind him.

Dungy was right.  The Philadelphia Eagles signed him as a third string quarterback before the 2009 season where Vick earned very little playing time.  However, the former star quarterback didn’t complain.  He became a good teammate by all accounts.  He also stayed out of trouble.

Fast forward to the 2010 season where the Eagles traded away their starting quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins so they could promote his heir-apparent, Kevin Kolb.  Vick would be moved up to the second string, but it was made clear that he would not be competing for the starting job.  Until now . . .

Kolb sustained a concussion in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers and Vick mounted a great comeback that fell just short.  Vick started this week against the Detroit Lions after Kolb was scratched due to his injury.  Vick dazzled with 284 yards passing and a victory.

On Monday morning, I sat stunned to hear that Vick supported coach Andy Reid’s decision to go back to Kolb as soon as he was healthy.  Vick said that it was Kolb’s job and that he would continue to prepare in the event the team needed him.  Was this Reid’s way of testing him?  Maybe.  Because on Tuesday, the team announced that Vick would be the starter for the remainder of the season (and it had nothing to do with Kolb’s injury).

Okay, I know I’ve gotten long-winded, but the point of retelling the story is to show how someone with a felony conviction has been able to transform his life.  He did it by finding a mentor and committing himself to living a clean life.  He took a job (the only one that was offered), even though it was clearly beneath him.  He became a good employee and waited for the team to trust him.  And when they gave him the opportunity, he shined.

Now, the story isn’t over on two fronts.  Many still wonder if he can continue to stay out of trouble.  Further, if his performance on the field doesn’t continue to meet expectation, how will he handle the adversity?  But as of right now, he’s doing all the things he needs to regain the trust of his current and future employers.

P.S. Do you know how much SEO love I just gave to all those NFL teams? Do you think they’ll return the favor? 🙂

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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