I got two unexpected gifts yesterday.
The first present was from my neighbor, who left two boxes of hand rolled cigars on my front steps. The second present was from Monday Night Football last night, when I got to watch Michael Vick and the Eagles run rings around the Washington Redskins. It was such an enjoyable evening, I almost forgave announcer Mike Tirico for coming up with the second most useless amalgamation of football statistics in the history of sports broadcasting after Bob Costas, who is the absolute king of telling his audience “stuff they don’t need to know about sports.”
If you were a Falcons fan during the beginning of the new millennium, like I was, then you know exactly how far Vick has come since his days as the franchise quarterback in Atlanta. His on-field performance in those days was nothing short of electrifying. But the phrase “he can keep both teams in the game at the same time” probably best described Vick’s erratic and uneven playing style back then. His arm was so strong and his legs were so fast that by his own admission, he took his football talents for granted, refusing to put in the time and effort all of us fans knew it would take to make him into a great NFL quarterback.
Then came the infamous dogfighting charges, the conviction and the incarceration. And after paying his debt to society, after being released from prison, nobody in the media was interested one iota in portraying Michael Vick, a man who had committed heinous crimes against animals, in a positive light.
I don’t know Michael Vick at all. I’ve never met him in person, never been any closer to him than the club level seats at a Falcons game in the Georgia Dome. All the same, I am glad Mike got a haircut. I am glad he started wearing something other than sweat pants and doo rags. I am still hopeful that he has bought himself a rack of suits. Although it is the Eagles front office who will ultimately have to decide whether or not to renew Vick’s contract, I will trust that he will continue to take control of his own narrative, to tell his own story, not just with his play on the field, but with his actions outside of the game.
If you are a Falcons fan now, you are glad that you have Matt Ryan, who is a prototypical NFL play caller, a guy with a strong arm and some height on him who is ready to be molded into a competent game manager. But you would have been ecstatic to have the version of Michael Vick the Philadelphia Eagles have these days, this latest edition of the Virginia Tech phenom who these days throws extremely accurate passes, stays in the pocket more than he runs, and obviously knows his playbook inside and out. You would be thrilled to have a man at quarterback who seems to play every game as if it is the Super Bowl.
As much as I will continue to pull for Michael Vick the human being, I know as well as you do that the reality of his future lies in the strength of his fabled left arm. We shall see.
In the meantime, I am putting away a brace of these cigars…
…just in case there is a need to have them on hand after an Eagles Super Bowl victory in February.