Now a newly minted member of the New York Jets, Michael Vick has written a passionate letter to the City of Brotherly Love for his five memorable years with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick penned the letter at The Philadelphia Inquirer:
I would like to thank the Eagles and the entire city of Philadelphia. I was honored to be their quarterback and took the privilege to heart every day. I especially want to thank Jeffrey Lurie and Andy Reid, who gave me the opportunity. I want to thank my teammates, who were not just coworkers, but friends. I also want to thank the millions of fans who cheered and supported our team.
People say Philadelphia fans are tough. I say they are fair. A player is not judged solely by his past or promises of the future, but by his actions today, and the next day, and the next.
In my time volunteering, I have met Philadelphia's heroes. I've met at-risk children with few resources, but with teachers tirelessly helping them make the most of a second chance. I've seen the work of volunteers at school fund-raisers, food drives, after-school programs, hurricane shelters, Toys for Tots campaigns, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the meaningful work of the Humane Society of the United States. I've seen children choosing the mentorship of a football coach over peer pressure on a street corner. One of the best examples of a community deserving a second chance is the North Philadelphia Aztecs youth football team. As the players step onto Team Vick Field, they can hold their heads high and be proud that they are making Philly stronger.
The Eagles are an outstanding organization with a bright future, and I'm thankful for all the friendship, love, and support they gave me and my family. I look forward to seeing great things from them both on the field and in the community.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and former coach Andy Reid brought Vick on board in 2009 despite his absence from the league that had not seen him take a snap since 2006.
Vick appeared in 54 games over the course of five seasons, with his healthiest year coming in 2011, when he completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 3,303 yards and 18 touchdowns in 13 games—the most appearances he had made in a single season since 2006.
Last season, Vick's career was revitalized once more under new head coach Chip Kelly, who helped Vick become relevant as a rusher yet again, as referenced by his 306 yards and two scores with a per-carry average of 8.5 yards.
At 33 years old, Vick's body couldn't sustain the physicality of being a dual-threat quarterback, and he appeared in just seven games before Nick Foles took over and put a stranglehold on the starting job.
Vick has since put ink to paper with the New York Jets in the hopes of once again potentially earning another shot as a starter:
There is ample opportunity for Vick to seize a starting role despite the fact he'll be 34 years old by the time the season rolls around. Last season as a rookie, Geno Smith completed just 55.8 percent of his passes for 3,046 yards and 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions—including a five-game stretch where he tossed no scores and eight interceptions.
Bob Glauber of Newsday talked about why the move made sense:
All Vick asks is to have a chance at being a starter again. The Jets ought to give him that opportunity. Open up the competition in training camp, and may the best man win.
Either way, the Jets will be better at the quarterback position. Either Smith holds off Vick and shows he's ready to take a major step forward in his development, or Vick recaptures his form under Mornhinweg and gives the Jets a playoff-caliber quarterback in 2014.
That said, coach Rex Ryan has made it clear the job is Smith's to lose, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News:
Rex Ryan (via SNY) on adding a vet QB: "Make no mistake about it: Geno Smith is going tobe hard to beat out. I don't care who we add" #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 21, 2014
Will Vick earn the starting job in New York?
The regime in New York is desperate to right the ship, so if Vick comes in rejuvenated and plays better than Smith in the preseason, No. 7 may have a legitimate claim to another starting gig.
Regardless of what happens in New York, Vick's time in Philadelphia allowed him to turn both his career and life around. He's clearly grateful for the opportunity and his experience with the fans, so his heartfelt letter is merely the icing on the cake to what was a very good relationship between fan and player.