Nine men strong, the Falcons Ring of Honor is not necessarily the repository of angels – although the majority of these all-timers are fine, productive citizens. A member of the inaugural class in 2004, running back William Andrews, had his legal issues, including a child support entanglement that caused him to miss his own induction ceremony.
Nor is the honor of being immortalized limited to those who, like linebacker Jessie Tuggle and offensive linemen Jeff Van Note and Mike Kenn endured long, often losing Falcons careers with great dignity. Deion Sanders is up there, and he spent nearly twice as many years in the company of other franchises as he did the Falcons (five seasons). And, his career sabotaged by a knee injury, Williams had but five productive years.
So, there are no hard and fast guidelines for when the team adds to its honor roll in the new stadium.
Which makes the whole is-Mike-Vick-Ring-of-Honor-worthy question more complicated - isn’t everything with him a barefoot walk through a briar patch?
The subject arose Monday. Mind you, there is no action on any of this yet, just talk.
Team owner Arthur Blank, who maintained a warm heart for Vick even as the quarterback’s 2007 dog-fighting conviction laid waste to his franchise, paid homage then to Vick and the team’s all-time leading receiver Roddy White. And when asked if these were Ring of Honor possibilities, he said, “both, given their records as Falcons players and their careers, they would certainly be considered for that.”
White undoubtedly belongs up there, even as Julio Jones continues the chore of whittling away at his records.
Vick’s legacy, though, is maddeningly two-sided. Heads it’s all the eye candy his six seasons here provided, along with a big playoff win at Lambeau and one NFC Championship game. Tails it’s squandered talent and dog fighting. This town has been flipping that coin for better than a decade.
I happened to be talking to one former Falcon, of 1970s vintage, Tuesday and, unprovoked, he made a passing/sneering reference to the thought of Vick being honored. That idea undoubtedly is going to sit uneasily in many bellies of a certain age.
A sportswriter with a similar born-on date will tell you now that, no, the sound of “Michael Vick/Ring of Honor”, isn’t accompanied by the kind of deafening peals of glory that such tributes usually inspire. His ledger of highlights and heartbreaks is just too complicated.
True, if not for Vick’s epic fall, the Falcons wouldn’t now have Matt Ryan, MVP. But that hardly seems like an endorsement for a permanent position overhead at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
I wouldn’t put the name of the Falcons third-best all-time quarterback up in the rafters. Of course, no one will consult me. And, as has been demonstrated, there are no hard and fast standards for this sort of thing – so, really, it’s a matter I’ll happily leave to better connected subjective opinion.
I’m sure there are plenty of dissenting views out there. As always with the most polarizing athlete this town will ever know.