Pull for Vick if he s learned lessons By Terence Moore | Friday, February 8, 2008, 10:32 PM The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Terence Moore It s time to start cheering for Michael Vick again. This doesn t apply only to those who have ignored everything to hug the most polarizing force in the history of Atlanta sports, but to everybody. We re talking about everybody, ranging from those who thought Vick was a running back disguised as a quarterback to those who cringed over his involvement in the fighting and killing of dogs to those who never liked the guy, period. There is a condition associated with our request, and it is a reasonable one for the former Falcons icon-turned-prison inmate courtesy of his self-inflicted mess over those dogs: He has to realize he received three lifeboats in recent weeks despite repeatedly lying to the feds. First, after serving time in his native Virginia, Vick was transferred to Leavenworth, but not that Leavenworth. He s in a minimum-security environment with no prison bars, military-style dormitories and inmates resembling Jim Bakker more than Charles Manson. Second, he has the ability to slice up to a year from his 23-month sentence through the completion of a generous drug-rehabilitation program. Third, a judge ruled that he can keep most of the $20 million bonus money that the Falcons wanted to strip from his bank account for wearing No. 33765-183 these days instead of No. 7. So Vick can continue to sink by ignoring those lifeboats, or he can climb aboard and hope to sail toward continuing his NFL career someday. I just feel like Mike is sitting there in prison and stewing and feeling that there isn t another kid that will come out in this draft who possesses the ability that he has, said Jamal Anderson, the Falcons running back great, who occasionally has sent encouraging text messages to Vick. That s because Anderson still has emotional ties to the franchise despite six years of retirement and a successful post-playing career in entertainment. Added Anderson, You have an athlete in Mike who throws like Steve Young or John Elway, who runs like Barry Sanders, who is as fast as Deion Sanders and who is playing the quarterback position. I love it, because the pundits sit there and say, Oh, when he gets out of prison, he ll be 29 or 30. No, no, no. He ll be mad, and he s not going to be able to wait when he gets out, just to prove something. That, then, will be the most dangerous Michael Vick we ve ever seen. That s what I m hoping for. Hope is one thing. Results are another, which Vick must produce in positive ways from now through the aftermath of his prison release. Then he must do something that he should have done years ago along the way to celebrity, and that is, he must divorce himself from the posse. It s the posse that contributed to Vick s issues spanning from that dogfighting thing to that water-bottle thing, to most of those other silly Vick things. It s the posse that ultimately deserted Vick when the feds came knocking. It s the posse that Anderson has seen other prominent folks befriend since he grew up watching his father serve as a bodyguard for the likes of Muhammad Ali, Donna Summer, Sugar Ray Leonard, Diana Ross and Mike Tyson. It s also the posse that Anderson featured during his days of turning the Falcons into the Dirty Birds. Mike and them screwed up in a major way. There s no doubt about it, but sometimes it s like, OK, I m trying to help my friends generate some money, but all of that other stuff, gosh, just nip it in the bud, man, Anderson said. It s tough, and that s the sad part about being the major figure attached to some of these things. When you re the hero of the family and of the community, and when people grow up with you, it s like we ve all made it. We, particularly in the minority community, feel this great responsibility to take care of every one around us who always has looked up to us. You just have to monitor everybody around you, or they can bring you down. Somewhere, Vick is nodding with such a thought, or he should be.