Michael Vick committed atrocious crimes against animals. He also served prison time and gave back to the community.
It’s a dicey topic right now as Vick’s name continues to draw ire from animal rights activists and disgruntled fans who feel the former Eagles quarterback shouldn’t be celebrated or honored.
Some 500,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the NFL not to honor Vick at next month’s Pro Bowl. The league has installed Vick as one of four “legends captains” for the Jan. 26 game. Many of Vick’s former teammates have flocked to social media in support of the dual-threat quarterback.
There is no denying that Vick was one of the most electrifying players to ever play football. His 6,109 rushing yards make him the all-time leader among NFL quarterbacks, including an insane 7.0 yards per carry. Vick was Lamar Jackson before there was a Lamar Jackson.
He also completed a lengthy rehabilitation program that saw him serve two years at Leavenworth Federal Prison while backing charitable endeavors and working with youth programs to ensure younger fans wouldn’t fall into the same trap he did.
Michael Vick’s Legacy in Philadelphia is Complicated
Michael Vick left a lasting impression, good and bad, wherever he went.
After he was released from federal prison on dogfighting charges in 2009, the Eagles were the only team willing to give him a second chance. Love him or hate him, Vick made the most of it.
Under then-coach Andy Reid, Vick thrived and threw for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns against six interceptions after usurping the starting job from Kevin Kolb. He also qualified for the Pro Bowl. In five seasons in Philadelphia, he racked up 9,984 passing yards and 588 rushing yards.
More importantly, Vick reinvented himself. He had been humbled in prison and it showed. The once-mercurial superstar was more willing to openly answer questions from reporters, no matter how combative or mundane.
Vick was also a fixture in the community, going around town and educating Philadelphia school children about the evils of wrongdoing in the most horrendous way.
Separating Fact from Fiction in Vick’s Case
Michael Vick’s name will always evoke controversy, unforgiving opinions from those that can’t differentiate the monster from the man. Understandable.
“When he first got picked to come here [to Philadelphia] I thought, ‘This might not be good’”, his wife, Kijafa Frink, told me in 2012. “This is a rough sports town. But when he first came, the reception was so amazing. We would go to a restaurant and people would stand up and clap. I was like, ‘Is this my city? Really? They showed him so much love.”
The city molded him. And he molded the city. It was the definition of the perfect place, right time. When he left in 2014, Vick wrote a poignant column in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I would like to thank the Eagles and the entire city of Philadelphia. I was honored to be their quarterback and took the privilege to heart every day,” Vick wrote. “People say Philadelphia fans are tough. I say they are fair. A player is not judged solely by his past or promises of the future, but by his actions today, and the next day, and the next.”
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