Michael Vick stood at the podium before the assembled media for the first time Tuesday afternoon as the official starting quarterback of the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly called Vick and Nick Foles into his office individually this morning to inform each of the decision, before addressing the quarterbacks as a group. Hours later, he made the announcement public during a press conference preceding practice.
Despite being named the starter, Vick is not satisfied and does not intend on relaxing. He understands this is the beginning and not the end, that there is still a whole season ahead of the team and collective goals to be achieved. Winning the quarterback competition is just the first step in what Vick set out to accomplish when he decided to restructure his contract in February and remain an Eagle.
"I chose to come back for one reason, and that was to help this football team win football games," Vick said. "I thank Coach Kelly for the process we all had to go through, and it doesn't stop here. This is day one and I still have to prove myself each and every day. I'm still going to compete with the quarterbacks each and every day. … It's gratifying to know I've had to come back and work for everything and it wasn't given to me. … I'm proud that I got the best out of myself when I needed it, and it's going to be needed and required a lot more. If I can take that same approach, then hopefully good things will happen for this team."
Vick admitted he was frustrated after the June minicamp when he said he wanted Kelly to name the starting quarterback before Training Camp, but that he came to understand the purpose behind his coach holding an open competition. The situation served as a learning experience for Vick, one that showed him what would be necessary to truly earn the job he felt was rightfully his and ultimately molded his mindset.
"I said that (then) because I just wanted to know, but you can't always have your cake and eat it too," Vick said. "Everything doesn't happen when you want it to happen at your discretion. I can't allow my feelings or my emotions or what I think should be right to interfere with coach's plans. I should have never come out and said that, I was just having a moment. But I appreciate having to put in the hard work, having all summer to think about what type of mindset I had to come back with, preparing throughout the summer as if I was fighting for a job, and I was.
"There's nothing better than that, knowing you have to be at your best. I know it's not going to change because coach is going to continue to coach and treat us the same way he has been. I can't let these guys down."
"You're at your best when your best is required and you have to be," Vick said. "Sometimes it's hard to get it out of yourself. Sometimes you need to be motived, you need to be pushed. There were times where I questioned the situation, but I just felt like it was for a greater purpose. And that purpose was to get the most out of me, and I found a way to do that. And that's why I stand before you humbled, because I was able to find something within my game, within my character and my personality that I haven't felt in a long time. That means a lot, and I thank Coach Kelly for that."
Vick and Nick Foles have a healthy, genuine, mutual respect that is uncommon among two people fighting for the same job. Vick credited Foles for pushing him to be the best player possible.
"Nick and I talked as soon as we both got word, and I told him nothing changes," Vick said. "We're going to compete every day, the way we have to look at it is this is both of ours' team and he'll tell you I told him that. You have to keep competing. We have to keep making each other better, stronger and keep that will, the will to win. I'm going to help him. I'm going to help Matt (Barkley), I'm going to help G.J. (Kinne) and Dennis (Dixon) become the best quarterbacks they can be as well.
"Nick is a great quarterback and he will be in this league for a long time, you can bet on that. That competition every day, it was so gratifying deep down because I respect Nick and his grind and the way he put in his hard work. The way I was going, the way coach just had us rotating in and out, it really brought the best out of both us. We've both changed as players. We both will be difference-makers for this team this year at some point."
It was going into the third game of the 2010 regular season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, that Vick was named the starting quarterback for the Eagles. Nearly three years later, going into the third preseason game of 2013, there is a hint of destiny in Vick being named the starting quarterback prior to playing the Jaguars. Though he does not subscribe to this being a "full circle" moment, Vick did reflect on all that has happened since then and what it means to him.
"This moment, really, just puts everything in perspective for me about how hard I have to continue to work because I looked at how hard I worked over the last four months, even over the summer," Vick said. "It would be a shame if I let up right now. It would be selfish to myself and to my teammates. If anything, I'm just going to continue to work harder. I'm going to go (into the gym) and do about 500-600 sit-ups, 500-600 pushups, and I'm going to jump on that treadmill and run until I can't run anymore."
Vick feels rejuvenated and he has clearly re-established himself as the leader on this football team. He has also exuded a combination of humility, maturity, authenticity and self-awareness over the last few months that will be key as he continues to evolve as a player. Now it is about maintaining that same mindset and remaining hungry, continuing his strong play and carrying it over into the regular season.
"I just don't want to let up," Vick said. "I feel like the sky's the limit. I feel like I'm getting better with each and every practice, and I'm still learning."
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