Quietly, in Philadelphia, Michael Vick was named starter opening day for the Philadelphia Eagles. Few people noticed.
Of course, I never expected Vick to not start in Philly this year but there was chatter out there as there is always with Mike Vick. There is chatter even now about Mike Vick as many believe this rise back up will be short lived and he will soon be back on the bench with a clipboard or on injured reserve because he is too much of a risk taker as a footballer.
But No. 7 has always been best when he is doubted and this looks again like one of those moments. His comeback year, 2010, in Philly was case in point. Vick had been released from prison in 2008 and signed with Philadelphia as a backup. He eventually got a chance to start and was, as many have described, “sensational” as an underdog (no pun intended). He was, in other words, ready when the moment came.
In the 2010 season Vick threw for 3,018 yards that year and most importantly, 21 TDs with only 6 interceptions. His QB rating was 100.2. I recall that year quite vividly because he had his best game against Washington on November 15th. Many agree that it was one of the greatest QB performances in a regular season game in the history of the NFL.
Vick was 20-28 with 4 TDs that Monday night and 2 rushing TDs. He rushed the ball 8 times for 80 yards. Philadelphia annihilated Washington 59-28. At that point of the season, many were certain that Philly might actually go far with Vick under center. It was also sweet vindication. The quarterback for Washington that night was Donovan McNabb, the player Philly traded confident that Kevin Kolb and more importantly, Mike Vick, would make it work.
Of course, that was the high point for Mike Vick. He threw for 3,330 yards the next year but Philly, with high expectations haunting the entire team, Vick struggled mightily. The interceptions piled up and last year, with a depleted offensive line, Mike Vick was punished badly. He was repeatedly sacked, he turned the ball over, and eventually, Andy Reid, the coach at the time, shut Vick down.
But when time came this year to prove to the doubters again that Mike Vick is still a talent in the NFL, he easily answered the call. He has been lights out fantastic again in pre-season and is in superb shape and ready to go every play. He has thrown 15 passes in game play for 13 completions. In all of his recent interviews, he admits he put in hard work, and late-hour study to be ready for the battle for the QB job.
So once again, Mike Vick is back in the saddle. He is 33 years old. He is no longer the highlight film out of Virginia Tech where the sky was the limit. He also knows this is the best way to do it and his last shot. When asked would be celebrate being named the starting QB in Philly, Vick answered, “Absolutely not.” This alone tells you that Mike Vick, even after all the struggles and ups and downs, cannot be counted out.
Brian Gilmore is a writer and poet, native of Washington D.C. and regular contributor to Progressive Media Project, thebigideas.tv; his blog is the chocolatecityreview.