Vick reflects on third anniversary with Eagles
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Michael Vick spent Monday afternoon flinging strikes all over the practice field. Fifty yards to DeSean, 35 yards to Avant, 60 yards to Maclin.
It was by far Vick’s best day of practice since training camp began, and after he walked off the practice field, he found out why.
It was three years ago to the day since he signed with the Eagles.
“Today was one of my best practices,” he said with a smile. “So now that I know it’s my three-year anniversary, it happened for a reason.”
Vick joined the Eagles on Aug. 13, 2009, the historic announcement coming during an Eagles-Patriots preseason game at the Linc. Vick had been released from house arrest just three weeks earlier and was 32 months removed from his final NFL game -- Falcons at Eagles, New Year’s Eve, 2006.
Two days after he joined the Eagles, he participated in his first practice since December of 2006 with the Falcons, before his world crumbled to pieces with a guilty plea on federal charges related to the illegal dogfighting ring he operated for years in Virginia.
“It’s been a great ride,” Vick said. “Just thinking back to the first day that I got here and all the hard work that I had to do both on and off the field, I couldn’t have done it without the support cast that I have here.
“Coach (Andy) Reid being there every step of the way, helping me grow in a lot of facets of my life and just holding me accountable, and I think that helped me grow up and helped my make up a little bit as far as being a considerate human being and doing the right things. Just helping me in all areas of my life.”
Vick began his Eagles career as a third-stringer, behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. He moved up to No. 2 in the spring of 2010, after the Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins, then became the starter early in the 2010 season after Kolb got hurt in the opener against the Packers.
Vick is 15-9 in 24 starts with the Eagles, and his 92.1 QB Rating is highest in franchise history among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 750 passes.
But as the starter he’s reached just one playoff game, a 21-16 home wild-card loss to the Packers two years ago. And he’s missed three games with injuries in each of the last two seasons.
Now, for the first time since he got here, he’s gone through an entire offseason program as the starter. And Vick said he’s hungrier than ever to get the Eagles to a Super Bowl. And win it.
“Each and every day since I’ve been here it’s been a grind, we’ve always been working and striving for something, and every year our expectations get higher and higher,” he said. “I appreciate playing in the city of Philadelphia and the support of the city and what it represents and just thankful for a second chance. I want to make it all right.”
Vick said he never dreamed of playing long-term in Philly, not when he got here in 2009. McNabb was still a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback and had led the Eagles within a few minutes of a second Super Bowl in five years just a few months earlier.
“My first day, first practice -- it all felt weird,” he said. “I’d much rather would have been in a different position at the time, not being a No. 3, but I accepted it for what it was, and that was a time when I really had to grow up and understand my position and play it to the best of my ability. But the one thing I can tell you is that I was very thankful and never was unhappy about my position or felt any [disappointment].
“I just thought it would be a one-year deal and then I’d go off and venture out and see what happened. But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and I’m glad I was able to prove and show these coaches that I had a decent level of skill that could play within our offense.
“I feel honored. I always watched the Philadelphia Eagles. Even when I was playing in Atlanta, I thought they were a tough football team and always used to see Andy on TV and wonder what type of person he was, just by the way he looked. I never knew that he would be the person I found out that he was.”
Philadelphia may not have totally embraced Vick yet, but it didn’t take Vick long to embrace Philly.
“It’s ironic, but Philly felt like home after my first week of being here,” he said. “Just being embraced my first time running out on the field after two years not playing football, the warm reception right there, I think it was a bond, not necessarily with football but more so on a personal level and I’m very thankful for that, thankful for our fans.
“We go out and we work hard as we can each and every day to try and please coaches, please our fans and please ourselves.”
Vick, 32, knows there are still a lot of fans who haven’t accepted him, who haven’t forgiven him, who never will.
He understands that, and his only reaction is to try to be the best person he can be and live his life the right way, like he has since he got here.
He can’t undo the horrible crimes he committed. All he can do is be himself. Try to be a good person all the time.
And he has been since Aug. 13, 2009, when the course of his life and the Eagles’ franchise both took a wild and unexpected turn.
“The way I go about my day-to-day life, I try to live like a normal person,” he said. “I’m personable, I interact with people, I appreciate every fan I have, whether they’re a fan of mine or not or whether they’re just a fan of football.
“I appreciate peoples’ conversation. I appreciate the things they have to say that are positive. And that’s more encouraging for me, to go out and continue to stay on the right path, and I will and continue to do the right things and continue to help as many people and kids as I can and just enjoy life.”E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org