Michael Vick, everyone's All-American. I like the sound of that. What began as a nice story and a national curiosity has blown up. Out of control. The news on Wednesday that Vick leads the fan voting of all NFL players for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii isn't, on the surface, that much of a shocker given the momentum his resurgence has generated.
Vick was our little secret -- not really, I know -- until the last month or so, the quarterback who won over the locker room last year in the relative anonymity of his sheltered comeback. He wasn't playing much then, but he impressed his teammates with his resolve, with his attitude, with his dedication to improvement.
Since the time Vick became the starting quarterback against Detroit, Eagles fans have obviously taken notice and they have, by and large, embraced him. Now, clearly, the entire country is wrapping its collective arms around Vick, around his story, around the person who he has become. James Stewart would be proud. Michael Vick is the lead man in the modern-day It's A Wonderful Life.
"It's a great honor, a great position to be in right now," said Vick. "It's a credit to my coaches, a credit to my teammates, Mike Kafka, Kevin Kolb, guys who have helped me get through this season. I knew it was going to be a long haul. I knew it was going to be tough, but we keep battling, we keep fighting. I can't do it without my team, I can't do it without my teammates, my offensive line, DeSean (Jackson), Jeremy (Maclin). I'm thankful to have them in my life.
"I appreciate my fans, man. I couldn't do it without my fans. They've been very supportive of me over the last three years and that's all you can ask for."
Vick has been to three Pro Bowls, but this one would mean something completely above and beyond the others. He acknowledges that. He also knows that the Pro Bowl is still a long, long ways away.
"We are busy preparing for Dallas now," he said.
Vick has been humbled by the whole experience from the time he became an Eagle and was welcomed in here, and his story has been told again and again, but the Pro Bowl voting is significant. It is a sign that all fans -- and not just Eagles fans -- appreciate the mark he is making on and off the field.
There are still two weeks to go in the voting, and you are urged to vote for all of your Eagles at NFL.com, but the message so far is clear: Vick is not in the least a novelty act. He is a full-blown superstar again and not just in the eyes of Eagles fans. The whole country is voting and 730,000 fans have said, "We want Michael Vick."
Vick, of course, isn't losing sight of what matters. The Eagles returned to practice on Wednesday with Dallas ahead. The Pro Bowl is a side note in the lives of the players. Truth is, none of them want to go to Hawaii and play in the Pro Bowl, given that the game is the week before the Super Bowl is played in Dallas.
The spotlight on Sunday night belongs to these two teams, these two NFC East rivals. Dallas owned the Eagles last year in three games. Vick played a minor role, so the perspective this time is totally different. He is the franchise quarterback for the Eagles in this game. He is the one at whom the rest of the team is looking for tempo, for urgency, for big plays.
And the role fits Vick very, very nicely. He is so cool, so calm, and the Eagles are following his lead.
"I know you can set the tone for these guys as far as the intensity that you play with, going out on the field and how you should practice and just with your leadership," said Vick. "My attitude is to go out and be the best I can be and hope that rubs off on these guys."
It has. The Eagles are following Vick's lead, doing the right things and preparing the right way. A young team has the Comeback Kid as its face, as its lead soldier. And everybody is on board. Everybody.
Even the rest of the country. That is what the votes say. The people are speaking. They are going to NFL.com in droves and voting for Vick and everything that represents. He is living the American Dream -- had it all, lost it all, winning it all again. He is today's James Stewart, Mr. All-American.
Tomorrow brings another day, another set of challenges. Dallas has a fast, swarming defense, one that intercepted four Peyton Manning passes last week and returned two for touchdowns. The film study is far from over. The test on Sunday night is enormous.
Somehow, though, some way, you just know Vick is going to make it work. He has overcome so much to get to this point and the world is appreciating his efforts. It is great holiday story, a tall tale of American redemption, as improbable as it all has been for Vick, for the Eagles, for the world of NFL fan who have a hero they want to succeed.