Since finding himself in the middle of one of the sport’s most widely-covered controversies in 2007, Michael Vick has slowly worked his way back into the spotlight. After serving 21 months in federal prison on charges related to his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, the former Atlanta Falcons No. 1 overall pick returned to the NFL on a two-year, $6.8 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles head coach at the time, Andy Reid, gave the dynamic playmaker the second chance many around the world didn’t feel he deserved. Not only did the 2010 AP Comeback Player of the Year go on to have his best statistical season with his new team in the years to come, but has maintained a clean public image in the decade-plus since his scandal.
In this week’s “Football Morning in America” column, NBC Sports analyst Peter King tells of his nearly hour-long ridealong with Reid in the days leading up to the Kansas City Chiefs‘ first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.
Among the topics of conversation was the incredible story of how Vick’s second chance came to be.
Reid’s other son, Britt, had drug problems of his own. [He’s now the Chiefs’ defensive line coach.] I reminded Reid that, in 2009, he told me Garrett and Britt advised him to give Michael Vick a second chance at football when he’d been released from prison after his dog-fighting and animal-cruelty convictions. Reid asked both to weigh in on Vick, and Britt Reid talked to Vick.
“What they said was, he’s admitting that he was wrong,” Reid said. “He’s done it publicly; he’s done it to them. That he sat in his cell and thought about it. He’ll never come back. There was conviction in that. . . . [He would] never come back to jail. He was determined. And then the other part was that he said he was willing to work and not in the NFL, but have a job, whatever it was to prove to people that he was back. He’ll work like crazy to do whatever it takes to get back in.”
With the approval of owner Jeffrey Lurie, and against a loud disapproval of the animal-rights community (and picketing), the Eagles signed Vick, who did as much as he could to make good on his second NFL chance. “There was always a kind heart in there underneath all the pressure of being the second coming of Elvis,” Reid said. Vick led the Eagles to the 2010 NFC East title, and in his sixth start back played arguably the greatest game of his life on Monday Night Football. Remember? He threw for four touchdowns, ran for two more, and Philly creamed Washington 59-28.
Throughout his 13 professional seasons, Vick compiled 22,464 passing yards and a 133:88 touchdown-to-interception ratio. On the ground, the electrifying runner totaled 6,109 yards and 36 scores, including 1,039 yards in his final season with the Falcons in 2006.
The four-time Pro Bowler officially retired from the league in February 2017. He soon thereafter accepted a role as a coaching intern for the Chiefs under Reid’s guidance. The 39-year-old later left to pursue his current role as a FOX Sports NFL analyst on FS1.
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