There's much for Michael Vick to be thankful for this year. His play on the field has even the most casual fans glued to the television. He leads the league in passer rating and is the only quarterback who has thrown more than 20 passes this season without an interception (he's thrown 191).
Vick has returned to his post as the game's most electrifying playmaker.
But that's Michael Vick – the quarterback. Vick has much to be thankful for off the field as well. After spending two Thanksgivings in federal prison, Vick is now at home with his family. And even with the tornado of national publicity that has stormed the NovaCare Complex each week to catch a glimpse of the hottest quarterback in football, Vick continues to spend his off days helping children avoid the very pitfalls that he could not.
Vick's success, both on and off the field, gives him plenty to celebrate this Thanksgiving. But nothing, Vick says, is he more thankful for than simply being home.
"Just being with my family each and every year," Vick said. "Some years you can and some years you can't, depending on everybody's schedule. This year will be like last year, where I can spend Thanksgiving with my family. My fondest memory is just having everybody together."
Of course, there is a game to play on Sunday, and a pretty big one at that. The Eagles travel to Chicago to face the 7-3 Bears. It's a game that will affect the landscape of the NFC, and could be pivotal come time for playoff seeding (head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker). Vick said this week will be yet another challenge against one of the league's top defenses.
"The Bears defense … my God, looking at them on film, we have our work cut out for us," Vick said Wednesday. "But like I said, every week is going to be a challenge in the NFL. It's a good group of guys that we're playing against. There are a lot of veterans over there, and they fly around to the football. You have to put together an excellent game plan to beat them."
The same could be said last week when the Eagles offense squared off against the top-ranked (at the time) New York Giants defense. After a masterful performance in Washington the week before, success was tougher to come by Sunday night. Now as Vick and the offense prepare to face a defense in Chicago that ranks tied for first in points allowed, the Eagles quarterback knows that things won't always come easy on the field.
"We're very confident in what we can do as an offense," Vick said. "There are going to be some games when things don't go as well. You just have to continue to keep fighting, bounce back from it, and just try not to let it happen again."
Against the top defenses in the NFL, that's the approach it takes to win.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 2:10 p.m., November 24