It’s been 11 years since Michael Vick left Virginia Tech to become the first pick in the NFL draft and teased us as a once in a lifetime multi-threat, passer and runner for the Atlanta Falcons. He was the rare athlete many thought would transform the quarterback position in the NFL.
He’s 32 years old now and his debut seems long ago. And so far Michael Vick has failed to achieve those lofty expectations. Now the clock appears to be ticking down on a career that can at best be described as a disappointment.
Yes, there have been truly unforgettable, sensational moments, when Vick has done the seemingly unbelievable, by either running or throwing the ball. But there are also huge gaps in-between, marked by inexplicable fumbles, untimely interceptions and numerous injuries.
And there is Vick’s dark side: resulting in the dogfighting conviction and subsequent prison time.
But we can also point to his humbling redemption which allowed us to see a wiser changed man off the field of play who has apparently taken responsibility for his actions by becoming an earnest spokesman against cruelty to animals.
But in pads, aside from the occasional hints of greatness, like two seasons ago when he made Eagles fans forget about Donovan McNabb and made a legitimate run at league MVP, he has largely underachieved.
The Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints provided the starkest contrast in quarterbacking by which to evaluate Michael Vick. His signal calling opponent was Drew Brees who was drafted the very same year as Vick and by NFL standards is approximately the same, short-statured, six-feet in height. On Monday Brees was much better than Vick as he helped New Orleans hand Philadelphia its fourth straight defeat.
Drafted in the second round, Drew Brees’ career has far exceeded what were relatively modest expectations. And he has trounced his 2001 rookie counterpart statistically. Brees has nearly tripled Vick in touchdown passes: 303 to 121. And he’s more than doubled Vick in passing yardage: over 43,000 yards to just under 20,000 yards for Vick. And even more importantly unlike Vick, Brees has won a Super Bowl.
It’s the kind of career many of us thought Michael Vick would have.
Still, it would be a shame to see a man with so much talent, with so much speed and elusiveness, who is also complemented by a phenomenally strong left arm never get to achieve what looked like limitless potential.
In fairness, Vick’s apparent decline is not all his fault, some of the blame rests with Eagles head coach Andy Reid, whose questionable play calling has made play extremely difficult for Vick. And it doesn’t help that Vick must defend himself with seemingly no help from his offensive line.
Making matters worse for an aging Michael Vick is the success that many of the young quarterbacks who’ve just entered the league are now having.
Further, Vick’s replacement in Atlanta, Matt Ryan, who is appropriately nicknamed “Matty Ice”, has led the Falcons to an 8-0 record, which is something Vick never did. Ryan has just about made fans in Atlanta forget the Michael Vick era.
But I will close with what I hope is some perspective here, even as we fans lament the decline and potential fall of Michael Vick’s football career. It is important that we recognize that at least it seems the time Michael Vick spent in prison, and his reflections upon his crimes afterwards have made him a better person, if not a better quarterback.
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