Today marks the release of one of the most exciting, dynamic, and polarizing players the NFL has ever seen. For some people, he revolutionized the quarterback position, and was a few pieces (and a Donovan McNabb-led Eagles team) away from being in a Super Bowl. For others, he’s considered overrated, a waste of money, and plenty of other undesirable things. For someone like me, he’s simply one-of-a-kind.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Michael Vick fan, and he’s easily one of my top-five favorite football players of all-time. On top of that, I will go to my grave feeling he OVERPAID his debt to society, no matter what anyone says. All things being said, Vick has a long road ahead of him, but getting back to the league, making a team, and staying on a team will not be impossible. Two immediate examples come to mind when I think about players, who were pretty much left for dead by the mainstream, but came back and, arguably, are better than ever.
Ray Lewis was charged with double-murder, back in 2000, during Super Bowl weekend, in Atlanta. At the time, he was 24 years old, and one of the best young players in the league, but it didn’t stop people from calling him every name under the sun (and none of them was a child of God. It was more like thug, hooligan, miscreant, deviant, and a whole bunch of other words that would cause Ed to censor this blog). Even though he was acquitted of all charges, he still had plenty of work to do, in order to repair his reputation. These days, people rarely bring it up (except for that suck-ass trick that plays receiver in Buffalo, but that’s another story). More than anything, they talk about him being one of the best linebackers that’s ever lived, but it took a lot of sacrifice, a lot of winning, and a lot of hard work for him to get that back.
The other immediate example is Chris “Birdman” Andersen. In 2006, The Pride of Iola, Texas (I don’t expect people who aren’t from Texas to know where it is. Hell, some people that live here don’t even know where it is) got booted from the NBA for violating its drug policy, and once again, was pretty much written off for dead. He got back in the league, and has become one of the biggest pieces in Denver’s run to shock the world, and make it to the NBA Finals. Of course, people will say “they did no jail time,” which is true, but the point is these two dudes were left for dead, but were able to come back, and are better than ever.
Skills-wise, there is only one other quarterback that comes close to Vick, and that’s Donovan McNabb. Other than that, no other quarterback can dominate a game with his arm and his legs. People say Vick couldn’t read a defense, but isn’t making a play with your legs, instead of throwing some jackass pass to get picked off (Exhibit A: Brett Favre, Tony Romo, or any other QB that makes those type of bone-head throws) an example of reading what the defense gives you? If so, then he did it as well as anyone, seeing as how he rushed for over 1,000 yards in his last full season. He can be labeled a running-QB all day, but that running QB was also one of the winningest QBs as well (38-28-1 as a starter for the Atlanta Falcons). His biggest threat on offense was Alge Crumpler (can we get a Where Are They Now, please???). Roddy White wasn’t nearly as nice, in those days, as he was last season, and he damn sure didn’t have Michael “The Burner” Turner, or anything close to it (as much as I love Warrick Dunn, he wasn’t a grind-it-out back). So for people who say he can’t read a defense or that he sucks or he’s a loser obviously haven’t watched too much football.
I’ll keep it 100 on this; right now, he’s not better than any starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s been in the joint since December ’07, so there’s no telling what kind of shape he’s in. When you don’t get to work out with your team (Exhibit B: Stephon Marbury), it’s impossible to just walk back into things, and be what you used to be. He’ll hopefully get on a team where he can be someone’s back-up, get in game shape, and get used to the speed of the NFL again. Once that happens, there’s no doubt in my mind that Michael Vick will regain his place as one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and when that happens, a lot of haters and non-believers will be forced to eat their words. The journey begins today.