Wow…I can’t believe that it’s 2010 already. 2009 brought so much in the world of sports from Usain Bolt breaking his own record, to Y.E. Yang beating Tiger Woods, to Twitter becoming the mouth piece of so many athletes, to the numerous stories of personal drama and conflicts on and off courts and fields around the world. Trust me there are so many stories that peaked my interest over the last year, there’s not enough room to name them all. But with all that happened last year, there’s one particular story that sits at the top of my list…
A couple of days ago, as we (meaning myself and the other half of Jersey Girl, my business partner and BFF, Angela) were preparing to tape what we called the 1st Annual Jersey Girl Awards, I was reading over the script and looking at the awards, and instantly became really excited about announcing our pick of the ‘2009 Comeback Player of the Year’. Now trust me when I say that there is nothing sexier than a 40-year-old man who still has “IT” on the football field, and Favre proved that to me this year. Then there’s Tom Brady, definitely not my personal favorite but many in the sport still look at him as the ‘golden boy’. Then even looking at players like Brandon Marshall and Chris Henry, who turned their lives around off the field to succeed on the field, Jersey Girl ultimately decided to name Michael Vick as our 2009 Comeback Player of the Year.
As a sports publicist who has worked with a number of athletes in all sports, when the Vick story broke many asked me…Did I think that he did it? Should he go to jail? Is the crime that serious? Are they making an example out of him? Should he be allowed to play in the NFL EVER AGAIN? Now, for those that truly know me you got a response, but for everyone else I kept it very tight lipped. One of my favorite Dr. Seuss (yeah, I’m talking about Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss) quotes is “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” and in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that is the attitude Michael Vick is taking now.
After reading countless articles and watching every interview that I possibly could see on this man, the situations of his past really have turned him around. There were a number of things that I heard him mention about his road to redemption but one thing that he said that even made my heart cry for him was when he was describing how his fiancée and his kids would come to see him and when they would leave they cry, which made him cry. He then goes on to say, “you know what cut me deeper than anything else I went through, was when they stopped crying [when they would leave]”. That statement showed me a side of a man who had gone from giving the fans the finger after a loss to saying how a franchise would not be able to survive without him as their star QB, to being a humbled man who may not have known his own personal strength, but found out where his help comes from.
Now I know some of you are saying…whatever about Vick, and the PETA people are STILL pissed, but the underlined point that I am trying to make is that Michael Vick’s return to the field had nothing to do with healing from an injury, or coming out of retirement, but a mental and spiritual rehabilitation that only he could have made the decision to embark on. I believe this type of “comeback” is harder than trying to heal after a blown out knee, or the decision of whether to hang it up forever; athletes do that day-in and day-out. Understanding and seeing that there is a bigger picture, a bigger job, a bigger purpose for oneself than what you thought before is the ultimate key to having it all. That type of understanding and success only comes when you have surrounded yourself with the right people who only want the best for you. Vick not only had the love and support of his family, but enlisted a mentor that not even the strongest Vick opponent could deny, former Colts head coach, Tony Dungy.
So…Vick congrats on being our 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, you returned to the league, joined and organization that believes in you, and you’ve become a better man, a better father, a better player. I believe 2010 is going to be your year…and hopefully I’ll see you in the Nation’s Capital when the 2010-11 NFL season opens.