Two years ago, the Eagles took a considerable risk when they signed free agent quarterback to a two-year deal. Vick, of course, was coming off an 18-month prison stay. But even then, knowing the immense talent of the former first overall draft pick, Eagles president Joe Banner never envisioned that Vick would one day become the quarterback of the team's future, and the face of the franchise.
"Today was not something we envisioned as possible," said Banner, following a press conference that announced Vick and the Eagles had agreed to terms on a deal that will keep the signal-caller in Philadelphia for the next six seasons. "We thought we were giving somebody a combination of them a second chance and us an opportunity to pick up a really good football player who would help us win games over the course of the next year or two. This, standing here today with Michael where he's at as a person and a player, being the face of the organization, and the person we've committed to to playing the most important position on the field. That was not what we were picturing at the time."
Back then, Vick was the No. 3 quarterback, stuck behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. Even after McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins the following offseason, Vick was still a backup. Then, right before halftime of the first game of the 2010 regular season, Vick relieved a concussed Kolb and the rest was history.
"To be honest, not until Kevin got hurt and Michael went on the field and you saw what he had (did I think this was possible)," said Banner. "I think from a character perspective we were starting to see that, but from an actual taking charge and handling all the pressures and everything that comes with it, sustaining the performance at that level. I think he actually had to get on the field and deal with all the things that come with that as a team leader, dealing with the media, dealing with the public, dealing with the charity work that he was doing. And at that point feel like, you know what, maybe this day is possible."
Vick's 2010 season is well-documented. He put up career highs in quarterback rating (100.2), completion percentage (62.6 percent), yards passing (3,018), yards-per-attempt (8.1) and rushing touchdowns (9) en route to being named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. Now, the Eagles and Vick are counting on that same rocket left arm and those same running back's legs to help lead the team to a Super Bowl.
"I hope that people are clear that this organization is driven by trying to win a Super Bowl, or Super Bowls eventually, and that's what has driven all of these activities," said Banner. "When you give a player a contract, you're betting on the future and you're using the evidence of what he's done to that point to evaluate your future projection. If we didn't think Michael was somebody capable of leading this team to a Super Bowl win, we wouldn't have given him that contract. Now, our judgment has to be right and he has to get on the field and prove that, but we would not be making that kind of investment if we didn't view him that way."
"That one common goal is to win the Super Bowl, and that's why we play," said Vick. "As a competitor, I don't feel like my career would be complete without that. That's the reason I've worked so hard."
Meanwhile, Banner would not address questions as to whether there would be another contract extension to follow Vick's - namely one for wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Banner would not divulge whether any contract discussions were ongoing with Jackson, though he did take time to laud the receiver's contributions.
"Getting into the specifics can only be counter-productive," said Banner. "We think that DeSean is a great player and we're lucky to have him and we appreciate that he's here now and working as hard as he is. Anything else beyond that is just not good for the process, which is what I have to be focused on."
But the lasting image of the day is a smiling Vick sitting at the podium alongside Andy Reid, contrasted with a similar picture when Vick was first introduced as an Eagle on August 14, 2009. At the time, this day was unimaginable.
"It's possible this moment doesn't happen, it really is," said Banner. "Some of these things, there's a fate to them, there's a luck to them, maybe a meant-to-be part of it. Who knows? But there's no question that if Kevin hadn't gotten hurt, we may not be here."