For his first six years in the NFL, Michael Vick for all of his God-given ability was still a work in progress both on and off the field. After a fall from grace and two years in prison, Vick returned to the NFL prepared to repair his image at the expense of those that intimated that his repentant heart was fueled by an empty bank account.
Vick has picked up his life and career to become the leader on a loaded Philadelphia Eagles squad that’s looking to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.
You heard me correctly when I said leader.
Nnamdi Asomugha said that he chose to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles because he felt they “are closer to the Super Bowl than the New York Jets.” The Birds newest defensive end Pro Bowler Jason Babin called the Eagles, “The Miami Heat of the NFL.” and Vince Young used the term “Dream Team” when asked about the Eagles acquisitions last Friday and Saturday.
Even during the Eagles recent free agent bonanza Michael Vick still seemed to be at the center of it all. Vince Young talked about how he was looking forword to pushing Vick to be the best quarterback that he can be while getting his own career back on track. Former Green Bay Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins sounded relieved in explaining how he doesn’t have to chase MV7 around anymore. And prized acquisition Nnamdi Asomugha told the Philadelphia press how Vick made his pitch for him to join the Eagles at the Pro Bowl last season. Newest addition Ronnie Brown signed a one-year deal to join Vick and others in Philly.
I’ll go on record saying that Michael Vick’s play last season was the greatest free agent lure the Eagles could’ve wished for. Now as they assemble one of the better rosters in the NFL, the Eagles expect to make a run at the Super Bowl with Vick leading the way.
Team leader was the last responsibility anyone expected to hang on Vick after his release from Leavenworth prison in 2009. His first season in Philadelphia was filled with speculation about his future as a quarterback or just a novelty collecting a check. Last off season when Donovan McNabb was traded the opportunity to unseat Kevin Kolb as the starter presented itself. Vick nor Kolb did much of anything to earn the starting job in the preseason but Kolb was named the starter for the season opener.
As the saying goes - you’re only one play away.
In Week 1 Kolb went down with a concussion in the first half against the Green Bay Packers. Vick, in emergency duty channeled his inner 2005, displaying what many had been longing to see since his return. The Eagles, energized by Vick’s presence played with a sense of urgency and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback. Vick’s play was enough to convince coach Andy Reid to name him the starter for the duration.
Now the starting quarterback, Vick was thrust into a situation many thought he wasn’t prepared for. Vick had learned the nuances of the passing game while working with McNabb day in and day out while developing a new found work ethic – the results were startling. Vick’s improvement as a pocket passer was evident just as much as the return of his speed and elusiveness. Vick displayed the skills of a complete quarterback and was once again the most dangerous player in the NFL.
The way Vick handled himself in a critical Philadelphia media was refreshing. Vick was bold and honest yet humble and engaging. He was a new man, inside and out, appreciative of every opportunity given to him. In between the lines, Vick played like every down was his last. In last season’s miracle comeback against the Giants, Vick played with a desperation and will that reverberated throughout the team as they chipped away at a 21-point deficit with eight minutes remaining in regulation. When DeSean Jackson crossed the goal line to give the Eagles a miraculous 38-31 victory – more than the NFC East was won that day. Vick had fully won the respect of his teammates, he had won over a city that seemed divided over his arrival but eager to make him one of their own. Finally, Michael Vick won back the admiration of the NFL - a league that many thought he had shamed. The only shame was that no one offered to wipe Vick’s slate clean - good thing he brought his own eraser.
The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles will have the eyes of the football world fixed upon them, the comments of Babin and Young will only increase the magnification and while other players will have their moments during the season one thing remains certain…
All eyes will once again be on Michael Vick – leader of the Philadelphia Eagles.