Vick's victorious comeback is the stuff of legend
In the Michael Vick comeback story, Monday night was the dramatic scene where the protagonist finally gets their redemption.
For one night, Vick became the player every NFL general manager feared he could be when he entered the league in 2001. He was an accurate pocket passer with a huge arm, who could also slice up defenses with his legs at any moment.
His obliteration of the Washington Redskins was the most dominant performance by a player this season. He finished with 333 yards passing. Eighty yards rushing. Six total touchdowns.
And one defining game that football historians will remember for years.
Vick’s story is well chronicled. The once electric quarterback lost two years of his freedom for his part in an illegal dog-fighting ring. The Philadelphia Eagles were the only team willing to give him a second chance.
WATCH NBC SPORTS COVERAGE OF MICHAEL VICK:
[NBCVIDEO source=”SPORTS” video=”http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/33399756″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”40217871″ id=”msnbc464034″]
Vick wasn’t exactly welcomed back with open arms by NFL fans. Add in the fact that the year he returned to the field, he didn’t get much playing time, and it would be fair to assume that Vick’s career up to that point was a disappointment.
But Vick’s comeback this year has been nothing short of remarkable. On the field, he’s the top-ranked quarterback in the league. He’s more accurate and has better pocket presence than he ever had while playing for Atlanta. He also still has the jaw-dropping speed that keeps defensive coordinators up at night.
Off the field, the comeback has been even more extraordinary. He’s been cheered by many of the fans that booed him, praised by many of the analysts that criticized him, and is now the face of a league that once banished him from the game.
When it’s all said and done, Vick might be the greatest athlete comeback story in the history of sports.
There have been some notable others. Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams certainly qualifies. Williams was suspended multiple times by the NFL for marijuana use, played a stint in the Canadian Football League, only to come back to the Dolphins. Last year Williams rushed for more than 1,000 yards at age 32.
But Williams was looked at as more of a knucklehead than a bad person. Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest is probably a better example. Artest’s infamous run into the stands at The Palace of Auburn Hills, which incited a brawl, cost him the majority of the 2004-05 season. He jumped around NBA teams before finally landing with the Lakers last season, where he won an NBA Championship. Now he’s viewed as a quirky media darling, even appearing on late night television shows.
The closest comparison to the Vick comeback though would be Kobe Bryant. Like Vick, Kobe is an unparalleled star. In 2003, at the height of his popularity, Kobe was accused of raping a hotel employee in Denver. The incident hung over him all season and the public generally loathed him.
WATCH MICHAEL VICK’S REMARKS FOLLOWING ROUT OF REDSKINS:
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”40218286″ id=”msnbc23967b”]
Now? His jersey is the top seller on three continents and he’s viewed as one of the best players to ever pick up a basketball.
Vick could surpass all of those stories depending on what he can do the rest of the season. In six games, Vick has racked up 15 total touchdowns without having a turnover (in four of those games, he started and played the whole game).
He’s being mentioned in the same sentence with guys named Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for the league MVP. Vick’s had some well-chronicled money problems since leaving prison. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season, and his play may help him command one of the highest salaries in the league next year. He’s playing for a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl. In a year where parity has dominated the NFL, the Eagles have a legitimate chance of winning a championship.
If Vick can continue his MVP-esque playing the rest of the year and lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory, he is the unquestioned greatest comeback story ever. Four years ago we wondered if Vick would ever play competitive football again. To be the main reason the Eagles lift a Lombardi trophy would be incredible. We’ve reached the dramatic turn of the Vick story. It’s been a great story so far. There’s still time for it to be legendary.