Two years ago, when I first wrote this list, I made a special note not to include Michael Vick in the top 10. Half of my reasoning was being a huge dog lover, not quite ready to welcome my former favorite player back into the league with loving and open arms. The other half was the part actually relevant to the game of football: Vick was returning as a backup to Donovan McNabb, and didn't exactly go out on top when he left the league in 2007 to begin his prison sentence.
I actually had hoped that his comeback attempt would fail, and that the NFL (and world) would never hear from Vick again.
While his 2009 season went close to what I expected (and hoped), Vick did not disappear. Instead, the Eagles exercised his second-year option, bringing him back to serve as an understudy for new starting QB Kevin Kolb. Enter Week 1 of the 2010 season, Kolb getting concussed by Clay Matthews, Vick entering the game and the rest is history.
Vick had a truly historic season last year, despite missing three games (and the better part of another) with injury. In 12 games, he posted a 100 QB rating, throwing 21 TDs to six picks, to go along with 676 rushing yards and nine TDs on the ground. His stats don't even do him justice; Vick was the most unstoppable player in the league.
When Vick threw four TD passes and ran for two more during the "first half" of a MNF game against the Redskins in Week 10, I officially acknowledged the return of the NFL's most exciting player. I wasn't ready to call him my favorite player again (and at 28 years old, the novelty of picking favorites has worn thin), but simply couldn't kid myself anymore by living in an NFL world where Michael Vick didn't exist.
The Eagles went on to win the NFC East, but lost in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs against the Packers. The game ended on a Vick interception to Green Bay CB Tramon Williams.
With the season on the horizon, no team has more hype than the Eagles, who made the biggest splash in free agency by signing Nnamdi Asomugha, as well as adding fellow CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Jason Babin and DT Kullen Jenkins. Vick, leading an explosive offense to complement a reloaded defense, is poised to win his first Super Bowl.
It should be an interesting journey for the league's most polarizing player, and the most intriguing storyline of the 2011 NFL season.