Michael Vick had a good run in Philadelphia, one that got him back on his feet – professionally and financially. But it is time for him to find a new destination, one where he does not have to pull turf from his facemask every other play.
Vick would never admit it, but it would come as no surprise if he did a mini fist-pump when soon-to-be-out-of-Phllly-too coach Andy Reid told him rookie Nick Foles would start the remainder of the Eagles’ games this season.
Why in the name of long-term brain damage would Vick want to subject himself to the all-out punishment he has received this season? He has had two concussions and is probably so shell-shocked that he flinches whenever someone comes up from behind him.
Once the ideal place for him, Philadelphia is the last place he needs to be now. One, the offensive line could not protect him. He hardly received the time to throw that Foles experienced in a solid effort against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Rather, Vick was always running, seeking yards and safety. Still fleet-footed at 32, he found little of either and ended up on the sideline not quite aware of where he was. Not good.
On top of that, Philly is the least patient town in the country, a place so hostile that the late legendary TV broadcaster Warner Wolf said the fans “invented the boo.” New York can be bad, over-demanding. Philly can be outrageous, unsympathetic and downright mean.
The Eagles’ dismal season was not Vick’s fault, but he contributed to it in a big way. He turned over the ball more than Allen Iverson did. Had he stayed healthy, maybe he could have galvanized the team. But aside from being hounded because the offensive line failed him, Vick continually discarded the lucid idea of protecting himself: Get on the ground. Run out of bounds.
There are times when even the most competitive athlete has to sacrifice three yards to play another down. Vick ran for his life and gave up his health. Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins should take note.
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Some who understand Vick still has game left in him believe he can still make it big in Philadelphia. But that’s not really the point at this juncture. This also is about money.
Last August, Vick signed a six-year, $100-million contract (his second $100-million contract, the only NFL player with that distinction) with about $40 million of it guaranteed. If he remains on the Eagles’ roster for 2013, he would be owed $13 million. If he is released, they pay him $3 million. You do the math.
It’s cheaper to not keep him.
Vick’s journey since he was railroaded for funding a dog-fighting ring (and losing all remaining of the $130-million contract he had with the Atlanta Falcons) has been remarkable. Once reviled, he came out of 18 months in prison humbled, and comported himself with tact, respect and as a professional. He was patient behind lesser quarterbacks and with his shot led the Eagles to the NFC East title last year, was the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl and was the AP Comeback Player of the Year.
In a very real way, he was the Comeback Man of the Year. And that’s what should be taken out of this chapter of the Michael Vick story. He appears to be a better, more focused and solid human being, albeit with a wracked up brain.
For all intent and purposes, it is over in Philadelphia for Vick. Arizona could be the next stop. Oakland, maybe. Surely, there is some place out there where he can land on his feet—and stay on his feet.