The Michael Vick experience in Philadelphia feels like a thrill seeking, adrenaline pumping, esophagus hurting roller-coaster ride. With ups and downs, highs and lows, dangerous curves, and piercing speeds this journey has it all. When Jeffrey Lurie and Andy Reid signed Michael Vick on August 13th 2009 the whole city was in a state of bewilderment. With franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb running the team and future franchise quarterback Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings the last thing this team needed was a quarterback. And the second to last thing this team needed was a locker room cancer. Fans screamed for Lurie’s head, picketing outside the Nova Care Complex and the Linc with animal loving furry. How could you bring this dog killer, this ex-con to our city?!
One thing I never did was bash the man or belittle Vick for his past mistakes. We are all human with our own list of mistakes and things we are ashamed of. Some of us go through life never having to publicly expose our mistakes while others pay deeply for them. Michael Vick is a person just like me and you. He made some dumb decisions in his past and had to pay the price.Who are we to judge and deny this man a second chance? I mean this is the City of Brotherly Love, the only city in the country willing to take a chance on Michael Vick.
Vick was the hottest thing on the planet from the time the Falcons selected him with the first pick in the 2001 draft. He dazzled crowds and tore up defenses with his unmatched athleticism. He wasn’t your typical pocket quarterback but his 40 speed was fast enough to break a stopwatch. Defensive coordinators lied awake at night trying to figure out how the heck they were going to stop #7 on Sunday. Football always came easy to Vick, so easy that his dedication to the game seemed faint. He knew that on any given Sunday he could lace up his Nikes with no preparation and still cut a defense up. He was just that good. He lived the young, rich athlete lifestyle of money, cars, girls, and partying with little time left to put into learning a playbook or extra conditioning. He knew his talent would make up for it. He was the NFL’s highest paid player the poster boy for the league, he could do no wrong.
Until Vick’s entire world came crashing down on him. The darkside of an untouchable athlete was exposed. The man so highly proclaimed on the football field was being accused of running a dog fighting ring on his rural Virginia property. The public screamed for justice to be done, every dog loving person in the country wanted this brutal killer behind bars. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison. His football days over, his endorsements gone, his reputation destroyed. From the golden boy of the NFL to the most hated man in the country.
In 2009 after 21 months behind bars at a federal prison and 2 months of house arrest Vick was finally free. A bankrupt ex-con looking for work. Thanks to some advice from Donovan McNabb the Eagles took a shot on the beleaguered quarterback. After two seasons removed Vick was finally back in the NFL. The Eagles used him sparingly in 2009 with moderate success at the wildcat formation. It was obvious to everyone that Vick was out of shape, his speed and elusiveness just not there. He scored 3 touchdowns for the Birds in 2009 but most notably was awarded the Eagles Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates. An award that meant a great deal to a man looking for some redemption.
2010 brought about a level of excitement for football in Philly that hadn’t been seen since the days of T.O. With McNabb in Washington and Kevin Kolb sidelined with a concussion the door was opened for Michael Vick and he ran through it. In his second game as a starter Vick led the Eagles to a 28-3 win vs. the Jaguars throwing for 291 yards with 4 total touchdowns. He had solidified himself as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Along awaited moment in a turbulent journey for Vick. In a week 10 showdown with the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football Vick exploded. He torched the Skins for 333 yards passing and 4 touchdowns, adding another two scores on the ground as the Birds pounded Washington 59-28. The opening play of the game was an 88-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson that sent shockwaves throughout the entire league. The season ended on a sour note for the Birds in the first round of the playoffs but Vick’s presence as an elite QB gives Philly great optimism for 2011.
The Michael Vick experience has been exciting to say the least. While the haters still won’t let up on his past Vick continues to persevere. He has dedicated himself to the community and to kids, trying to keep people from making the same mistakes he made. You can try and fault the man for what he did but you cannot fault him for what he is trying to become.Vick’s story is one for the ages, a man who had it all and just as quickly lost it. He has proven that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope.