The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

The excitement is back


I dislike writing about Michael Vick because, for myself and most people who will read this, it's virtually impossible to separate "Michael Vick, football player" from "Michael Vick, dog killer."

It's difficult to watch Michael Vick on the football field without having your mind occasionally turn to his criminal activity, just like it's difficult to watch Mel Gibson in a movie without thinking about his various hate-filled rants. (I'll leave it to each of you to track down the recordings of Mad Mel's phone calls with his girlfriend.)

Even if you subscribe to the notion that Vick has "paid his debt to society," as the expression goes, that doesn't necessarily equate to forgetting what he did. And if you do subscribe to that notion, you know that not everyone else does.

The occasional reminders of Vick's crime make it awkward, if not dangerous, to praise him as an athlete. Unless you qualify it by acknowledging his crime, you cannot say, "Michael Vick played a heck of a game on Sunday" without feeling a little guilty or inviting a larger debate.

I don't want to invite a larger debate.

Please assume that I have made whatever acknowledgments of his crime you believe are necessary so that we can address the singular issue of Michael Vick as a pro quarterback.

It's easy to forget that, before his conviction, Michael Vick led the Falcons to the playoffs, or that he was a truly electrifying quarterback, or that there is no other quarterback with whom you could compare him. No, I'm not talking about that indecipherable quarterback rating system, nor am I talking about whatever value he might have had in your fantasy football league. I'm talking about a quarterback with quickness and moves that most tailbacks would envy, coupled with a cannon of a left arm. (The fact he's a lefty is often forgotten and rarely addressed, but it can cause fits for a defense. He scrambles in the opposite direction than you would normally expect, he looks in the opposite direction, and his passes tail differently.) When we last saw Vick with the Falcons -- we didn't see much of him last year -- he was a Frankenstein's monster combination of Warrick Dunn and Kenny Stabler.

But that was then. What about now?

If you watched the Eagles game on Sunday, you couldn't help but be struck by two related thoughts: 1) the Eagles may have turned over the reins to Kevin Kolb a little too early, and 2) Michael Vick is Michael Vick again, or something awfully close.

Michael Vick commanded the football field on Sunday. There's no other way to put it. It was his field and his game from the moment he replaced Kolb. You could not take your eyes off him.

Except for two plays we can probably chalk up to rust -- his choice not to try to run the ball in himself from the 7-yard line when there was no one between him and the goal line, and a little hesitation on the failed quarterback sneak that ended the Eagles' hopes -- Michael Vick looks like he is back.

Which begs the question, for how long?

Andy Reid has already announced that Kolb will get the quarterback job back when he returns from his concussion. That's not only fair, but it's necessary. Reid put his reputation and his future on the line when he traded Donovan McNabb to create a starting spot for Kolb. Taking the job from Kolb after one half of play, regardless of how Vick may fare in the coming weeks, jeopardizes too much for Reid, for Kolb, and for the team. Barring some unusual development, Kolb will get the ball when he's healthy again, presumably in time for the third or fourth game.

But if Vick plays well during Kolb's absence, and if Kolb is ineffective when he returns, Reid shouldn't hesitate to turn the offense back over to Vick. And if Sunday was any indication of what Vick can still do, it could be a very exciting season for Eagles fans. Not necessarily a playoff season, but an exciting one.

By Michael Kun  |  September 16, 2010; 8:58 AM ET  | Category:  Michael Vick , Philadelphia Eagles , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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