Michael Vick has once again taken his spot among the most celebrated players in the NFL, and what a road it's been for the nine-year veteran quarterback. A former first overall pick and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback in Atlanta, Vick spent 18 months in federal prison, putting an abrupt halt on his electrifying career. Now in Philadelphia, Vick has changed the way he plays on the field, and the way he conducts his life off of it.
The result? Vick has catapulted himself into contention for the Most Valuable Player award and says he can now enjoy his success with a clear conscious.
"I've had success in Atlanta and I was fairly young, but now it's like I've been there before," Vick said Wednesday. "Success doesn't come overnight, and once you achieve it you have to continue to work hard to maintain it.
"I don't have to think about going back down the path that I've been down because it's not going to happen. I can live my life with a clear mind everyday knowing that I'm moving forward and I'm doing things not only for the best of myself, but for my family. Everything is predicated towards them. That's how I live my life now…It makes (success) sweeter this time around."
On the football field, Vick has been astonishing. He leads the league with a 115.1 passer rating and has thrown 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions. When Vick was in Atlanta, teams knew that to beat him, you had to keep Vick in the pocket and make him pass. Now, that's exactly where Vick is most dangerous.
According to ESPN, Vick entered Monday night as the top NFL passer from inside the pocket with a 62.5 completion percentage, 8.2 yards per attempt and seven touchdowns. On Monday night in Washington, Vick upped the ante. He completed 81 percent of his passes from the pocket, averaged 14.7 yards per attempt and threw for three scores.
It's no secret that the Eagles coaching staff has transformed Vick into a legitimate threat through the air, and Vick can't help but wonder what might have been if his career began in Philadelphia.
"You wonder why things happen, and things certainly happen for a reason, but I just thought about that three or four days ago," Vick said. "If I could have started my career here, where would I be? Would I have ended up in some of the things that I got involved in? You never know, but you can only think about it and wonder and just appreciate being in this situation now.
"I can't say what we would have accomplished, but as far as my growth in the passing game, it would have been expedited tremendously."
Now the challenge for Vick and his teammates is to move on from the record-breaking performance in Washington and get set for a pivotal matchup against the Giants – one for sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Vick said Wednesday that with great leadership, it doesn't take long to regroup and prepare for next week.
"If you have guys on the team who can be great leaders and who know how to refocus and who can get the younger guys to focus in, then it's fairly easy (to move on)," Vick said. "We all know in this league you can't dwell on the past and you have move forward and play for the present."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 1:22 p.m., November 17