Why Michael Vick's NFL Career Is Over

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterOctober 27, 2013

USA Today Sports Images

Mike Vick is done.

Not just for this season. His career. It's done.

Oh, sure, Vick will play in a game or two. Maybe even again this season. Maybe someone picks him up for next year as a backup, and he contributes in a few contests.

But make no mistake: We will never see the scary, intimidating, fast Vick who transformed the sport. That Vick is dead. He's gone. He's a memory. He's now fodder for football historians and PETA. That Vick is a ghost.

And I think Vick knows this. He sat at the end of Philadelphia's bench Sunday after the coaching staff decided they'd seen enough of the hamstrung star. There was a towel draped over his head. He looked…beaten.

In that moment, Vick seemed transformed for the worse in a way that I hadn't seen him since he emerged from federal prison in 2009 after spending 21 months there.

Oct 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph (97) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley (2)  during the game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Faytok/The Star-Ledger via USA Today Sport

How bad is it for Vick? He's so physically spent that he was benched for Matt Barkley in the 15-7 loss to the New York Giants. Barkley is so putrid he makes Blaine Gabbert look like Johnny Unitas.

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There was a time when Vick, even banged up, would never let a guy like Barkley replace him. At one point, going back to last week's game against Dallas, Barkley had three interceptions, three fumbles (one lost) and one turnover on downs in five possessions.

Michael Vick can't even stay moderately healthy enough to beat out the empty carcass that is Barkley. The only thing Vick can beat now is the line for the MRI machine.

Vick's body can no longer regenerate the way it once barely did. It can no longer save him.

This is how it ends for many running quarterbacks. There is a rapid loss of skills as their bodies age in dog years—aging even faster than other football players—because they often take shots while running at full speed.

Go down the list. Vick's Eagles predecessor, Donovan McNabb, was battered toward the end of his career. Steve Young won a Super Bowl near the end of his but was massively and scarily concussed along the way. Steve McNair took some of the worst shots you will ever see a quarterback take. John Elway won at the end of his career but also paid a physical toll.

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Vick has played an entire 16-game season just once in 11 years. No player I've covered has taken more brutal shots than Vick. There were times when Vick was hit and I wondered how he didn't die on the spot.

His injury history reads like something from a nightmare: There was the shoulder injury, then a hamstring, knee, another shoulder, a groin, quad injury, a concussion, a hand injury, a finger injury, hurt ribs, another concussion and the most recent hamstring injury. And those are the known injuries. It's no secret that almost every player and every team hides injuries.

It's all caught up to Vick. He's beyond brittle and fragile. His body would never hold up for an entire season. It won't hold up for half a season. A quarter. By now, every team knows that Vick's body has betrayed him to the point where it can't be trusted.

After the game, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Barkley could remain the starter in the near future. That means likely the rest of the season. Vick told reporters he would have an MRI on Monday. That doesn't sound great.

Vick didn't play well before he left the game because of that hamstring. He threw a pick on the opening drive, fumbled on the second and then had an awful grounding penalty on the third. Vick looked lost. He looked like a shell of the player who once terrified the sport. He looked...


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