Michael Vick: Is the Philadelphia Eagles' QB Redeeming Himself?

Colin LobdellContributor INovember 16, 2010

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on while waiting for a review to be completed against  the Washington Redskins on November 15, 2010 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

On a night that Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb hoped to celebrate his new contract, his opposing quarterback was the one who had a night to remember.

The dazzling Michael Vick became the first player in the history of the game to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 50 yards and an additional 2 scores.

Marveling at what they saw, fan message boards and star struck fans were lighting up.

Finally, nine years later, Vick never looked more so like the player the Atlanta Falcons envisioned when they took him first overall in the 2001 NFL Draft.  A player that’s dynamic speed and arm strength would reinvent the game, and whose dog fighting fiasco could forever tarnish his reputation.

If it sounds crazy, don’t worry, it is and will continue to be as long as Michael Vick continues what is a strange odyssey.

At halftime, the writer looked at his cell phone and had an incoming text message that read: “As little as a year ago I was laughing at this guy.  But are you watching this???

Whether or not this view is common throughout society is up for debate.  After all, this is a man that was once such an easy target and so easy to dislike that dog-chewed trading cards of his were auctioned for canine charities.

That even when released from prison and getting a contract with the Eagles many citizens of Philadelphia protested the acquisition with signs that read “Pack up your beagle, Vick’s an Eagle” and “Too Many VickTims”.  

However, it’s true though that success can make people forget about past transgressions. Maybe Michael Vick knew this all along.

“I will redeem myself.  I have to,” he vowed after pleading guilty to charges in August of 2007. 

He said this even as his then team prepared to cut him and pursue a large portion of his contract. He said this even as he knew he was a disgraced potential superstar heading for the worst place imaginable: Federal prison.

“When my team first signed him, honestly, I wasn’t sure about it.  But I’ve warmed up to him this year,” a fan on a message board told me.

“Vick is unreal and we will resign him this season,” another wrote.

Forget about the dingy and tainted welcome mat that was thrown out upon his arrival, many Fans in Philadelphia are now hoping he’ll stick around.

It’s easy to forget and forgive when you’re witnessing what is arguably the best quarterback performance of the season.  Now after playing in six games and playing the most of the five of them, Vick is on pace to set career highs in nearly every passing statistic. He has yet to turn the ball over and possesses a league-high 115.1 quarterback rating.

“If Michael Vick’s not the best quarterback in the league right now, he's at least in the top three,” ESPN’s Matt Mosley said.  “Vick was easily the best quarterback on the field.  If McNabb's worth $40 million guaranteed, what could Vick bring on the open market?”

Of course not everyone is jumping on the Vick bandwagon — and I don’t just mean fans in the nation’s capital. 

“This is a guy who committed a despicable federal crime and then lied about it to the NFL Commissioner, the Atlanta Falcons and anyone who cared to listen.  Then we uncovered the sick ways he killed dogs only to go on a scripted insincere redemption tour.  I’m not going to lie, I don’t like this guy,” another fan told me. 

No doubt the suddenly awoken Eagles’ quarterback has skeletons in his closet (or in the ground).  He also grumbled last season about the way he was being utilized by the Eagles when many felt he should be thankful to just be on a roster.  But these views appear to be becoming a minority impression.

Vick knows he’s had to work for this. 

Despite what some may see as insincere contrition, he has partnered with the Human Society to accept him and create anti-dogfighting community based programs.  He has visibly worked on his game and getting himself back to NFL shape after three years off despite the criticism from many of the unforgiving and dog-loving society. 

No doubt it was a mess Vick created, but as he seeks to regain his spot, he’s done it with a lot of obstacles and people who were once against him.

"I've had some great games in my day," Vick said after the game with a smile. "But I don't think I've had one quite like this one."

Indeed, he’s learning that salvation is a sweet thing.