Apart from the fact that the involvement of former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy lends significant credibility to the efforts of quarterback Mike Vick to be reinstated, we think that Dungy’s role as an adviser and mentor to Vick will have a dramatic impact on the next phase of his career.
For starters, it virtually guarantees that Vick will be signed by another team this year.
Though the initial reaction to Vick’s reinstatement, which includes a potential regular-season suspension that doesn’t operate like a traditional suspension, has triggered multiple teams to express preliminary interest in Vick, let’s assume that the initial interest doesn’t translate to a contract offer.
With a wide swath of connections in the NFL, including multiple coaches who likely owe a debt of gratitude to Dungy, the Super Bowl-winning coach becomes an incredibly valuable lobbyist on Vick’s behalf.
Dungy has said on multiple occasions that Vick needs to be in a locker room again, benefiting from the support that a team environment provides. So if Dungy has signed up to devote time and attention to helping Vick, Dungy will want to see the situation unfold not with Vick finding no suitors, but with Vick landing on a team.
If the Bears hadn’t already acquired Jay Cutler from the Broncos, we think coach Lovie Smith would have been Dungy’s first target, given the close relationship between the two former colleagues. Even with Cutler on the team, the Bears become a Wildcat option for Vick, if Dungy can’t place Vick anywhere else.
The Colts become an option as well, given that Dungy said on The Dan Patrick Show that he’d be interested in Vick if Dungy were still the coach there. Presumably, new coach Jim Caldwell shares some of the same views as Dungy; otherwise, Caldwell wouldn’t have been hand picked to succeed Dungy.
Then there’s the reality that Dungy, in his role as an adviser and mentor, will be able to steer Vick wherever Dungy thinks Vick needs to go, if/when multiple teams are making offers. This means that, if one of Dungy’s former colleagues wants Vick, Dungy will be more inclined to recommend that Vick move in that direction than to a team coached by a man with whom Dungy has no prior relationship.