Michael Vick’s redemption story is arguably the greatest of any professional athlete who has ever lived.
We all know the Michael Vick story.
Vick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the first overall pick in the 2001 draft. He played six seasons, earned three Pro Bowls, led the Falcons to the postseason twice, and became the first quarterback to top 1000 rushing yards in a season.
In April of 2007, Michael Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring that had operated for over five years. He pled guilty to federal felony charges and spent 23 months in prison, and another two months in home confinement.
The Falcons released Vick, during which he filed for bankruptcy. He also lost all product endorsements.
After his release from prison, the Philadelphia Eagles shocked the football world by signing the former three-time Pro Bowler as their third-string quarterback.
The guy who gave the Eagles the idea to sign Vick? Current quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The guy who mentored Vick? Super Bowl winning head coach Tony Dungy.
Vick’s one-year contract included no guarantees and he played sparingly throughout his first season, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for two. He was unanimously awarded the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates.
After the season, the Eagles traded away six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, officially proclaiming fourth-year player Kevin Kolb the starter.
In the first game, Kolb struggled and was knocked out with a concussion. Vick entered and almost led the Eagles to a miraculous comeback.
He led the Eagles to a shootout victory against the Lions the next week, and was, to the shock of many, named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
Vick’s 2010 season was easily the greatest of his career. He led the Eagles to victories in eight of his 10 complete game starts. The Eagles captured the NFC East division title, their first since 2006.
Vick threw for over 3000 yards, a career high. He tossed 21 touchdowns against just six interceptions, and posted a triple-digit passer rating. He also rushed for 676 yards and eight touchdowns, more touchdowns than half the running backs in the Pro Bowl.
He posted arguably the two signature individual performances of the season: a six-touchdown performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and an epic fourth quarter comeback against the New York Giants to give the Eagles their sixth straight victory over the men in blue.
Vick will not win the MVP award. He will probably finish second, unless Tom Brady becomes the first player to capture the award unanimously. But he was named the Comeback Player of the Year.
For the first time in his career, he combined his incredible rushing ability with his laser arm, turning into a top five quarterback in the NFL in 2010. Even at the age of 30, he has a small chance to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame and go down as one of the best running quarterbacks of all time.
He’s said and done all the right things this year and in doing so, Vick has literally redefined what it means for a man to be given a second chance.
He went from being one of the most popular players in the league, to having his reputation completely destroyed, to turning back into one of the most popular players in the league.
That, in itself, is just as incredible as any accomplishment he’s done on the football field.