Michael Vick turns 34 this June and has only played a full season once during his 11-year career in the NFL. While this alone is enough for most NFL owners, general managers, and coaches to stay away from investing in the free agent quarterback, it should not overshadow the transformation Michael Vick has gone through and what he is capable of doing on the football field when his 6 foot frame is intact.
Anyone from your most avid football fan, all the way to your run of the mill morning news viewer is familiar with who Michael Vick is and what his past entails. The one time dog-fighting convict who served 23 months in jail becomes a free agent this off-season, which means Vick is on the search for employment.
Back in 2009, former Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Andy Reid, did what no other coach in the entire NFL was willing to do. He rolled the dice on quarterback Michael Vick.
Reid decided that Vick deserved a second chance, not only in football, but a second chance at life. Reid gambled on Vick by signing him to a one year contract, outraging dog lovers across the nation, myself included.
What Michael Vick did was absolutely horrific. Not because he is an NFL superstar who was supposed to be a role model for children. Actually, Vick being a professional football player has nothing to do with why what he did was so egregious. His fame and notoriety simply just allowed for more people to band together and revolt against a man who unfortunately made a huge mistake, one that many other people out there are currently making, and had to withstand the consequences in front of the entire world.
If it weren’t for Andy Reid and the Eagles, Vick would still be jobless and facing the results of his actions.
Once he became a part of the organization, Vick served as a back up to Eagles all-time great, Donovan McNabb. However, Reid’s brave decision making did not stop after signing Vick. Reid announced Vick as the starter of the 2010 season, thus, rebirthing the man who was once known as the most exciting player in football.
Vick, who has forever been known for his uncanny speed at the quarterback position, had not lost a step. What was most shocking was Vick’s presence as a pocket passer.
Whether it was from viewing football from an outsider’s perspective while he was behind bars in Leavenworth, Kansas, or just a man going with the flow, finding his niche at the perfect time, in front of thousands of fans, Vick seemed to have put to rest all of the critiques about his lack of pocket passing ability that haunted him during his playing days as an Atlanta Falcon.
In 2010, through 12 games Vick threw 21 touchdowns, compiled over 3,000 passing yards with only 6 interceptions, averaged 8.1 yards per passing attempt, and had a passer efficiency rating of 100.2.
A game on November 15th against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, where Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game solidified the return of a revamped Michael Vick as he made his stamp in the history books.
Vick was having a miraculous 2010 season, something you would see out of a movie, “Famous athlete returns to glory following 548 day stint behind bars.”
To the dismay of many, it was epic.
However, the story with Vick’s injury prone nature never got old, and to this day, it is what has propelled the Eagles to move on with a younger, more durable Nick Foles at quarterback.
Now, once again, Michael Vick needs a job. But what Vick really needs is one more Andy Reid, one more head coach out there who is willing to take a chance, not only on Vick, but also on himself. He needs a coach who is willing to risk his own job security and reputation, and instill it in a 34-year-old quarterback who, when healthy, can play ball with the best of them.
Michael Vick has paid his dues. He has altered his reputation from negative to positive, not only within the realm of football fans and mothers who wouldn’t let their son buy his favorite player’s jersey, but Vick has delved deep into the roots of forgiveness, becoming a spokesman for PETA and other animal rights organizations.
He has also demonstrated an aspect of sportsmanship, loyalty, and unselfishness as he swiftly witnessed his job as the starting quarterback slip away as Nick Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs this year, and carried the entire city of Philadelphia on his back.
On Foles’ back, cheering for him every step of the way, was Michael Vick.
But none of that really matters.
Having a reputable guy in your locker room is always a plus. But Michel Vick wants to be a starting quarterback, not just a veteran presence with a positive attitude.
If I’m an NFL owner, I’m asking myself, can he still play? Can he stay healthy? Is it worth investing in a guy who is on the wrong side of 30?
I say yes.
In 2013, Vick went 77-of-141 for 1,215 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions in seven appearances, resulting in a respectable 86.4 passer rating. Vick also added 36 rushes for 306 yards and two more scores.
A healthy Michael Vick is a productive one.
Another coach might ask, what about his speed, which is surely his greatest asset? It is sure to slow down with age, right?
Wrong, just ask Lesean McCoy, who fell victim to Vick in a 40-yard dash during last summer’s training camp. Maybe the old man’s handling of the Eagles’ halfback had something to do with McCoy’s 1,607-yard season, which was a league best.
Well, probably not.
The bottom line is that there are teams out there that could use Michael Vick. The Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly could always use an upgrade at quarterback. However, they will most likely look towards the draft to fill that void.
The Minnesota Vikings have given up on Christian Ponder already, and have some new found confidence in Matt Cassel, which would present a battle for Vick should he end up in purple.
The Oakland Raiders also seem like a good fit for Vick. Terrell Pryor was able to succeed at times during the course of the season as the Raiders quarterback. Vick, who is a similar type of player, would be considered an upgrade and could very well find a home in Oakland.
The question with Vick always remains. Is there a front office, a coach that is willing to take the risk on Michael Vick and everything he comes with?
The recent news revolving around Vick’s possible affair with a stripper is undoubtedly the cherry on top of a career filled with off the field antics. But at this point, Vick might as well laugh at these allegations, and so should everyone else.
Whether he had an affair with a stripper or not, whether her accusations about Vick telling her not to cuddle one of his dogs because it would make the dog “soft” is true or not, is useless information.
We know what Michael Vick did. He pleaded guilty to sponsoring a dog in an animal-fighting venture for crying out loud. What is knowing that he did not want a mistress of his to pet one of his dogs really going to do to Michael Vick’s reputation at this point?
Vick most certainly does not want anything like this coming up during a time in which he is trying to impress teams around the league. But any coach who views this as a reason not to consider Vick for the job, might as well consider his own encouraging of 300-pound men to ram into each other on a turf field unethical as well.
Anybody is capable of making a judgement that is completely over-blown.
Michael Vick will play football in 2014. For whom and for how long, who knows? But at this point, Vick is somewhat immune to off the field drama directed towards him. His integrity has already been tarnished enough and those who have yet to forgive him never will.
This off-season represents what Michael Vick has become. Coming out of prison, nobody other than Andy Reid would have dared to risk the support of their city to take sides with a guy who tortured innocent dogs. Should Vick get signed to an NFL roster this off-season, and become the starting quarterback, a man’s dirty faults will have merely turned into a boulder in the middle of the road.