Michael Vick’s career has been a roller coaster ride that has culminated in this defining season of his career as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Amid the quarterback controversy between Vick and Kevin Kolb, Vick has emerged victorious earning the permanent starting job on the NFC East first place Eagles for at least the rest of the season.
This transition from backup to starter is an unfamiliar one for Vick, who experienced immediate playing time upon entering the league in 2001.
Vick, a first round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, was given the opportunity to play in eight games during his rookie season before becoming the permanent starter for the Falcons in the off-season of 2002.
He hit the ground running, literally, as starting quarterback for the Falcons, amassing eight rushing touchdowns, 24 passing touchdowns and 3,713 total yards to earn his first of three pro bowl invitations of his career.
Vick continued his success in Atlanta, leading the Falcons to two playoff appearances in 2002 and 2004. The Falcons were beat by the Philadelphia Eagles both years, including an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2004.
Through 74 games with the Falcons over six seasons, Vick gained 11,505 yards through the air with 71 passing touchdowns and 3,859 yards on the ground with 21 rushing touchdowns.
Just as Vick was at his peak performance he found himself in a heap of trouble for off the field related problems.
In December 2007, Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail for running and organizing a “cruel and inhumane” dog fighting ring and lying about the details.
Although 23 months in jail is nothing to overlook, Vick avoided a possible five year term. It was taken under consideration that he had never been in trouble before, and that he had admitted to bankrolling the dog fighting operation on his property in Virginia.
He also admitted to assisting in the killing of six to eight pitbulls, which he had previously reported as only two dogs.
Vick had more problems to worry about with his job and finances. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him without pay by the NFL and Vick could only sit back and watch as all of his multimillion dollar endorsements were stripped from him.
It was an obvious low-point in the life of a former three-time Pro Bowler and one of the most popular athletes on the planet.
After serving 19 of his sentenced 23 months in jail, Michael Vick was released on probation. He vowed to educate people on the immorality of animal cruelty and turn over a new leaf in his life.
Almost all the NFL teams passed him up, unwilling to take a chance on the former felon but one team decided to gamble; and what a gamble it turned out to be for the Philadelphia Eagles.
On Aug. 14 2009, Vick signed a two year deal with the Eagles. The plan was to bring a wildcat option into their offense, but that didn’t last long.
After only one year of sitting on the bench, Vick got his opportunity to play for a significant amount of time when Kevin Kolb got a concussion duringthe week one game against the Green Bay Packers.
Vick wasted no time getting back to his old Pro Bowl ways, seizing his first opportunity to start against the Detroit Lions, throwing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and rushing for 37 yards leading his team to victory.
As Vick continued to play well, putting up four total touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars the following week, a quarterback controversy became the news in Philadelphia. Head Coach Andy Reid was standing by his initial quarterback in Kevin Kolb.
Vick continued to start, while Kolb was unable to play, but that streak came to an end as he was sidelined with a rib injury in a week four matchup against the Washington Redskins.
Once again things seemed gloom for Mike Vick as the quarterback controversy in Philly was the hot topic. An injury had placed him on the sideline and Kevin Kolb back in the starting position with the opportunity to hold onto his previous job. It seemed as though Vick may be put back on the bench, but Andy Reid changed his tune and stood by Michael Vick. As soon as he would become healthy again, the job would be waiting for him.
After three games on the sideline and a bye week, Vick was ready to play in week nine against the Indianapolis Colts. Vick led the Eagles to a big win with another multi-touchdown performance.
In a week 10 rout of the Redskins, Vick silenced his critics once again with a record setting performance. Passing for 333 yards with four touchdowns, and rushing for 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns, Vick let his on the field performance speak for itself, extinguishing many of the dog fighting memories of the past.
Through 13 weeks of the 2010 season, Michael Vick has put up astonishing numbers and led his team to a 6-2 record as a starter.
It has been a roller coaster of a career for Mike Vick, but he is playing at a level that no one has seen before. His new maturity and dedication to right the wrongs of his past seem to have paid off immediately for the resurrected Michael Vick.
Mark Gionta is a fourth-year student majoring in professional studies. He can be reached at MG649676@wcupa.edu.