If this is it for Michael Vick as a Philadelphia Eagle, what a long, strange trip it's been. From lightning-rod signing to No. 2 quarterback to resurgent superstar to quarterback competition victor to supportive, consummate-teammate backup, Vick has played many roles for the Eagles since joining the team in the summer of 2009.
On Monday, following a season in which he mostly faded into the background after Nick Foles grabbed hold of the starting quarterback job, and on the verge of once again becoming a free agent, Vick reflected on his time with the Eagles.
"It's hard to sum up my time here," Vick said. "Everything has been so surreal and has happened so abruptly. The thing I do know is that I really appreciate the fans, I appreciate this organization, I appreciate the relationships and the teammates that I've been able to endure in this locker room. There are a lot of guys that I will always remember forever, I will always keep in contact with, and like I said, they're my brothers.
"I think the memories that I have are the memories of coming here every day, and like I've said, the brotherhood that we have with each and every guy in this locker room … The memories that I have over the years of throwing to DeSean (Jackson), handing off to (LeSean McCoy), playing with Jason Peters – just so many great guys in here who I think are future Hall of Famers. It's something that I'll never forget."
At 33, Vick believes he still has plenty left in the tank as a starting-caliber quarterback. With Foles firmly entrenched as "the guy" in Philadelphia, Vick knows he may have to go elsewhere to fulfill his hopes of starting under center.
"My desire to start will be the same maybe when I'm 38, 39 years old, but I'm still 33 and I still feel good, and like I've said before, the way that I've been able to take care of my body this year, the things that I've learned, the nutrition aspect of everything has really given me another jump start," said Vick. "I feel good. I still know that I can play, and I'm just confident in what I can do, based on what I do every day, whether it's running the scout team or in warm-ups and understanding what our game plan and concepts are. I feel like I'm built to do this and I just want to keep it going. Like I've said, I'm not finished."
Of course, there is also the possibility that Vick won't be offered a chance to start elsewhere, in which case a return to the Eagles is still on the table.
"I think we'll have to just cross that bridge when we get there," Vick said. "As of right now, I can't even see that far. I'm praying that things work out in my favor, but you never know. The thing is that I try to stay optimistic about everything and look at everything from a realistic standpoint, as far as what I want and things that I can attain and what I want to continue to try to achieve. I'm blessed that I have had the opportunity to accomplish so many things in my life, on and off the field, and I just have to continue to keep it going."
For Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman, Vick's enduring legacy will be the way with which he carried himself following Foles' ascension to the Eagles' quarterback throne.
"I love Michael Vick," Kelly said. "I mean, that guy is awesome, and I think how he handled a very difficult situation, because of Nick's success, I don't think that that's not any indication of Michael's non-success, and I think from what we've asked him to do since I got here, he's done everything. Unfortunately he got hurt, and that gave an opportunity to another guy, and I think sometimes for a lot of people, you put yourself in those shoes, that's hard to wrap your arms around because it's not like Michael was wrong and that Michael got benched. It was just a unique situation, and I think how he handled it, how he helped Nick through the process, it just tells you the type of person he is and the type of teammate he is, and I think that didn't go unnoticed by me, and I appreciate everything he did my first year here."
"I thought Mike was tremendous all year," said Roseman. "I thought his attitude – and I told him this today when we spoke – for a guy in his situation to take on the leadership role and be supportive of his teammates, I thought, was incredible. Mike obviously feels, and deservedly so, that he's a starter in this league and I'm sure that's going to be his first choice. I feel like every year we have a conversation about Mike not being back and you just don't know how things are going to work out. We all really like and appreciate Mike Vick."
Meanwhile, for his part, Vick believes his lasting legacy in the community, in the wake of the actions that led him to prison prior to his time in Philadelphia, is even more important than what he provided for the Eagles on the field.
"My thing was always to try to make amends for the things that I've done," said Vick. "Some people are going to forgive you, some people aren't. My goal wasn't to try to make people a believer through my actions. I just felt like the good things that I was able to put myself in a position to do, through acts of God, was all I ever wanted. Now that things have taken a turn for the better, I just want to keep that momentum going.
"I'm most proud that I'm here with you all and the questions are 90 percent positive. There are a lot of good things to talk about. The things that I've been able to accomplish on and off the field, especially off the field, supersedes everything. I'm thankful for that. It was one of the things that I set as a high goal coming out of prison, after being incarcerated, and I can say I accomplished that."
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