Michael Vick’s rehabilitation now almost complete
The outrage has faded, and the sordid details of Michael Vick’s
murderous dog ring have become fuzzy. The biggest controversy
surrounding him now is not why he would do such evil things to
animals, but whether he should start on Sunday.
Despised dog killer one day, a quarterback darling the next. A
few dazzling runs, a couple of nice touchdown passes, and there’s a
rush to the team store to buy his green No. 7 jersey.
Granted, there was always a chance Vick could be rehabilitated.
A stint in prison, a dose of public humiliation, and the need to
make money fast certainly gave him motivation.
But who would have thought the new Michael Vick might even be
better than the old? No one, because rust and baggage isn’t usually
shed as quickly as this.
No one, that is, except Michael Vick.
”It’s a true testament that if you work hard, you keep your
nose clean, good things can happen,” Philadelphia Eagles coach
Andy Reid said.
Vick’s improbable return to play quarterback in the NFL isn’t
exactly the feel-good story of the year because it’s still hard to
feel good about a man who did the kind of things he did. If anyone
needs to be reminded of the methods Vick and his gang of toughs
used to torture and kill dogs who didn’t fight well, there’s a new
book out this month called ”The Lost Dogs” that describes them in
But he’s served his time and paid his price. He claims to be a
reformed man, and so far he’s done nothing to indicate
The same NFL owners who were too scared of a backlash from fans
to take a chance on his comeback have to be muttering to
themselves. The same coaches who said he would never fit into their
plans have to be rethinking those plans.
And some of the same fans who vowed they would never forgive
Vick can now feel free to call talk shows and urge Reid to make him
the starting quarterback.
That’s not going to happen, at least right away. Philadelphia
has a lot invested in Kevin Kolb, and Reid made it clear again
Monday that he’s not going to dump him just because he had a bad
opening game against Green Bay before being knocked out of the game
with a concussion.
The great thing for Vick, though, is that he doesn’t need to
start another game this year to become a hot commodity. He’s
already shown he can still play, his $5.2 million contract is up at
the end of the year, and there will be a lot more teams looking
seriously at the prospect of acquiring him.
Indeed, two games into the season, some of those teams are
already growing desperate for a quarterback. Assuming Vick’s
performance against the Lions wasn’t an aberration, he could make
any of them better right away.
In Minnesota, the love affair with Brett Favre is cooling almost
as rapidly as a Minneapolis winter, and the Vikings have already
all but said they have no confidence in his backups. The thought of
Vick in the same backfield as Adrian Peterson is enticing and, best
of all, Brad Childress won’t have to beg him to come to training
Surely Vick would be a safer bet for Carolina than giving the
starting job to Jimmy Clausen, who was a second round pick for a
reason. And since Arizona fans can’t get Kurt Warner back, the next
best thing might be to sign a quarterback with Vick’s proven
There are probably a dozen teams around the league who would
take Vick right now if they could. Instead, he will be lining up at
a position other than quarterback in the Eagles’ version of the
wildcat offense when his team takes on Jacksonville this week.
Reid feels like he has an abundance of riches behind center with
Vick and Kolb, who will be the starter as long as the Eagles can
”There are a lot of teams that don’t have good quarterbacks,
ones that they feel like they can win with, and I feel like we can
with both of those guys,” he said.
That the conversation now revolves around how Vick plays on the
field and not what he once did off the field is an indication of
how far he has come since finishing out his 18-month prison
sentence barely more than a year ago. Though a recent ”Q Score”
survey showed him to be the most disliked athlete in the country,
the negative response to his comeback has been largely muted.
No, he won’t be hawking shampoo or making Nike commercials. Vick
will always be too radioactive for that.
But he has defied the odds to become a legitimate quarterback in
the NFL once again.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated
Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org