Monday, September 27, 2010

Vick’s ride from coddled superstar to team leader

Michael Vick is proving to be a good decision for the Philadelphia Eagles.  With Vick’s pro bowl performances over the last two weeks, fans are jumping on the Eagles’ bandwagon, fantasy league owners are regretting not drafting him and sports pundits are noting that Vick is not only back, but also better.  I am thinking about Michael Vick’s journey from public housing in Newport News, VA passing the campus of Virginia Tech; through the 2001 NFL Draft where he was the first overall pick, traveling to the Atlanta Falcons, speeding with million dollar endorsements and a lavish lifestyle, then crashing and landing in United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. 

After two years away from the NFL, Vick began his second tour of professional football in 2009 with the Philadelphia Eagles.  The key he was handed was not to a shiny new starting quarterback position.  It was just to a roster spot – a modest opportunity to get him from point A to point B.  A year later, Vick has displayed that he is very appreciative for his “hooptie.”  He put everything that he had into it and shined it up, so when Andy Reid called him to be the starting quarterback, he was ready.  He showed that he is still an elite quarterback, displayed a passing skill set that many did not know existed and drove his team to victory.  What makes Vick so much better than he was before?


Vick was blessed and cursed with exceptional speed.  Like many talented young athletes, he was spoiled.  His community praised him and teachers let him slide.  People gravitated to him because of an ability that came natural to him.  Football was not work for him, it was a fun game that he had been playing since he was 3.  No one told him anything differently and did not demand more for him.  This proved to be to his detriment.  While he was great, we now see that he still had not reached his potential.  How much better could he have been if his parents, teachers, advisors, mentors and attorneys had demanded more from him?

Admittedly, Vick did not give his all when he was in Atlanta.  He would arrive at practice late and leave early.  He did not condition or read his playbook.  Why?  He was Michael Vick and he had excelled without doing any of those things.  In the post game press conference, after the Eagles beat Jacksonville 28-3 yesterday, Vick was asked about his passing game being better than it was before.  In answering, he explained that in Atlanta the offense was about his running game.  Passing was not expected of him.

Vick’s journey is not only a warning for young athletes.  It is a lesson for parents and adults in authority over children.  How many other Michael Vicks are growing up being pampered because of their athletic abilities?  Instead of being challenged to do better, they are coddled and complacent.  Adults have to be leaders and set high expectations.  Children will meet them.

The Eagles organization made their expectations crystal clear.  Vick was to compete, earn a spot on the roster and not be an embarrassment to the team.  As his mentor, Tony Dungy, was straightforward about his expectations of Vick respecting his profession and being a responsible citizen.  Vick is meeting the expectations and setting higher ones.   

Quick notes from the NFL in Week 3

-       The Cowboys and the Vikings got their first win of the season.  The Vikings victory was not impressive.  Favre is still throwing interceptions, but they played the Detroit Lions who have only won 3 games since December 2007.  Luckily, Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 yard.   
-       Kansas City beat San Francisco 31 - 10 and remains undefeated.  However 2 of their first 3 opponents have not won a game.
-       Atlanta gave the defending champs, New Orleans Saints their first loss of the season in overtime.  The final score was 27 – 24.
-       Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers are still winless.
-       Chicago Bears play Green Bay Packers at home tonight on MNF.  The winner will be the division leader in the NFC North.  Both teams are undefeated, but I don’t feel like Chicago had any real competition in the first two weeks and they barely beat Detroit.  I think Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and defensive back Charles Woodson will be too much for Chicago.

Around college campuses
-       Alabama capitalized on Ryan Mallets interceptions in the fourth quarter and survived an upset.  Alabama  24 – Arkansas 20
-       The leaders in the Big Ten pounded on non-conference opponents.  Things will start to get tough this weekend when conference action begins.
-       Boise State eventually pulled out a win over Oregon State 37 -24.
-       Texas is completely embarrassed by its loss to UCLA.  The Bruins killed them 34 -12.
-       Notre Dame loss its third consecutive game.
-       This week get ready for these conference battles: Alabama #1 against Florida #7 at home in the SEC and Wisconsin #9 at Michigan State #21 in the Big Ten. (USA Today Poll)

Heels & Helmets

1 comment:

  1. A-Rod and the Packers should take it to the Bears tonight with a convincing victory. The Bears benefited from a ridiculous rule or they would have fallen at the pathetic hands of the Lions the first week.