If you believe in redemption, you have to believe in Michael Vick.
Three years ago, Vick made a decision that changed his life. And unlike some of his previous decisions, this one changed it for the better.
On August 13, 2009, Vick signed a contract to play for the Eagles, a move that surprised just about everybody in the NFL. Vick had just finished almost two years in federal prison for crimes associated with his dog fighting operation and nobody knew if he could still play football at a high level. And that included the Eagles and Vick.
Now they know. Vick eventually won the starting job and reclaimed his title as the most dynamic quarterback in the game.
“It’s been a great ride, thinking back to the day I got here and all the hard work I’ve put in on the field and off of it,” Vick said during a break in training camp at Lehigh University. “It’s been a grind.”
But when Vick first joined the Eagles a lot of people didn’t like the move, present company included. I could barely look at Vick at first. It was hard to believe any decent person could have done the things he did to innocent animals. He abused them and he killed them and he didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with that.
It’s still hard to believe, but you can’t doubt Vick’s sincerity in trying to make amends. He’s worked tirelessly with animal rights groups and by doing so he’s turned a negative into a positive.
“It’s important for me to be accountable every single day,’’ Vick said. “And that means off the field as well as on it.”
Of course, if Vick hadn’t played well and won the starting job nobody would care or even remember his third-year anniversary with the Eagles. Certainly offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg remembers when the Eagles signed Vick and agreed to take the quarterback’s baggage, as well.
“I knew exactly what we were getting, even though I had not met him three years ago,’’ Mornhinweg said. “I will tell you that when we got him, it had been going on two years that he hadn’t played. However, even then he was still one of the great players in the game and that was my thought process there.
“I do know that he has really learned to play the quarterback position at a really high level,’’ Mornhinweg added. “He is chasing that perfection every day and he wants to become a master at that position as well as being one of the most dynamic players in the game. He has come a long way in this system and generally playing the quarterback position at a high level. He’s having a terrific camp.”
Vick said he initially thought he’d be with the Eagles for just one season and then he’d try to find a place where he would have a chance to start. He didn’t have that with the Eagles, who had Donovan McNabb as the starter and Kevin Kolb as the backup. Even when McNabb was traded to Washington before the 2010 season, Kolb was named the starter and Vick was still on the bench.
Then Kolb got hurt, Vick took over and the rest is history, as well as a little geography.
“I appreciate playing in the city of Philadelphia and the support of the city and what it represents,’’ Vick said. “I’m thankful for the second chance and I just want to make it all right.”
And when once again reminded about the long and winding road he had to take to win back his reputation as a player and a person, Vick smiled and said “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.