Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Michael Vick Story

In terms of football strategy, the signing of Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles to back up Donovan McNabb at the quarterback position was a no brainer. The ship of their organization is McNabb’s to either sail or float, and if by chance he goes down to injury, by the time Vick is eligible to play again he will be a far superior replacement for Donovan than anyone else currently on the Eagles roster. As a public relations move many people feel that the signing of Vick was a risky one, even with the blessing of the somewhat sainted Tony Dungy. I’m not in that camp. Football fans in Philadelphia by and large will support him if/when he gets into games because he’s on the home team and they are there to support and root the Eagles on. When the Eagles are on the road will there be some razzing of Michael Vick? No doubt. But along with cheering for their hometown heroes fans are also there to jeer the opposition, something Michael Vick is well aware of, so a bunch of posters with pictures of injured dogs on them shouldn’t rattle him too much. Even if PETA holds organized protests, which is not guaranteed to happen, the court of popular opinion is a fickle one that will weigh above all else. Michael Vick was Public Enemy # 1 when accused, convicted and incarcerated. But now he’s a man seeking redemption, a comeback story, and above most things Americans love a good comeback story. This season marks the beginning of Vick's fresh start in the protected position of a back-up role. Next season he most likely will be a starting quarterback somewhere, presumably not in Philadelphia unless events unfold in a manner such as what happened with the ascension of Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe in New England, and Michael Vick will be all the way back to being one of the most popular players in the NFL. This is assuming that he still possesses the skills that made him a star in the first place. If his speed and arm strength have eroded considerably over the past two years and his accuracy is average at best, he’ll simply fade into the background as the superstars of tomorrow take center stage. Redemption needs to be accompanied by extreme prowess to write a Hollywood ending. This story is only at its mid-point so who knows what twists and turns lay ahead. But as I sit here writing about Michael Vick for the third time [this being the first time, and this being the second time], one thing about him is certain. Through the combination of God and parent given talent and self inflicted turmoil, the man is a sportswriter’s dream.

- Written by Roy L. Pickering Jr. (author of Patches of Grey)

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