In a rare moment of humility, Michael Vick publicly stated that Kevin Kolb should be the Eagles' starting quarterback. This, despite Vick's performance in leading Philadelphia to a win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
"I came into this season and this year as the backup and that's been my mindset," Vick said. "I've been working hard to be reliable whenever I'm needed. That's the way it is, and the way it's gonna be throughout the season."
Vick was more than just reliable in his limited action as a fill-in for Kolb after the first-time starter suffered a concussion in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
Vick threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions, and has 458 yards and three touchdowns for the season. He's achieved a passer rating of over 100 in consecutive games for only the second time in his career.
Vick's comments quickly put to rest any quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, and may also put to rest questions about Vick's character.
The Early Years
The electrifying Vick quickly became one of the NFL's most popular athletes with his combination of speed and agility. He was a pretty good quarterback, too.
At one point early in his career, Vick threw 177 passes without an interception. He's been to three Pro Bowls—most recently in 2005. And he's still the best rusher at the quarterback position (for whatever that's worth) that the world has ever seen.
But positive on-field performance didn't always translate into positive off-field behavior for Vick. His list of transgressions reads like one belonging to a hardened criminal, rather than a professional athlete.
- In 2004, a truck registered to Vick was stopped and the occupants arrested for distributing marijuana.
- In 2005, Sonya Elliot filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging that the Falcons' star quarterback had given her genital herpes and neglected to tell her that he had the disease.
- In 2006 after a loss to the Saints, Vick responded to fans booing by giving them the middle fingers (both of them).
- In early 2007, Vick repeatedly missed congressional hearings in which he was scheduled to speak to lawmakers about increasing funding for after-school programs.
Then, of course, there was the dog-fighting scandal. I won't get into the details, except to say that Vick served 18 months in federal prison during which he had to file for bankruptcy.
The Comeback Trail
Vick was released by the Falcons upon completing his prison sentence in 2009 and was lucky enough to receive a one-year contract offer from the Eagles for $1.6 million, with a $5 million team option for 2010.
Vick played sparingly as the backup to Donovan McNabb, but he did accomplish one thing—he earned the respect of his teammates.
Vick was the unanimous (voted by his teammates) winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, an annual award given every year to one Eagle who, "exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage."
That commitment helped convince the Eagles to exercise their option on Vick and bring him back in 2010, except this time as a backup to Kevin Kolb.
Coach Andy Reid, however, praised Vick's contribution to the team as a role player, rather than a star.
"I'm very proud of him," Reid said. "It's a true testament that if you work hard, you keep your nose clean, good things can happen. And he's worked very hard at doing both those things and I'm proud of the way he led the football team."
What Does the Future Hold for Vick?
If Kolb performs the way every Eagles fan expects him to, then there will be no reason for Philadelphia to bring Vick back. Fortunately for Vick, this time around he should get more than one offer in free agency.
He's proved he can still play at a high level and, more importantly, he's proved that he's matured as a human being.
"Hopefully, somebody will give me that opportunity [in 2011] and if they give me that opportunity, they'll get 110 percent," he said.
Vick called Kolb the Eagles' "leader" and rightful starter. Ironically enough, Vick's willingness to allow himself to be subservient to another quarterback is proof that he, too, is capable of being a leader.
In a league where the quarterback position is the difference between the playoffs and a high draft selection, Vick may have just made himself into a hot commodity once again.
After all, he's only 30 years old.