The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

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

It only took 3 weeks

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You can file what I'm about to say under "What A Difference A Few Weeks Make."

Or maybe "How Quickly We Forget."

Or perhaps even "What Have You Done For Me Lately."

As I am wont to do, I just checked espn.com to see if there's been any major development in the world of sports that I need to know about at this very second.

There wasn't.

But there was this: according to an espn.com poll asking readers which of three quarterbacks they would rather have, 45% said Michael Vick and 23% said Donovan McNabb. (The other candidate, Ben Roethlisberger, received 32% of the vote.)

Now, I'm sure those percentages will change a bit by the time you read this, and perhaps they will change significantly by the time fans finish voting, but here's my one word response: Wow.

Here's my lengthier response:

I'm somewhat flabbergasted -- and yet I might vote the exact same way today.

I assure you I wouldn't have voted that way three weeks ago. And I have to acknowledge that I might not vote that way three weeks from now.

But, today and today only, that's probably how I would vote if given the choice between Vick and McNabb. (Let's leave Roethlisberger out of the conversation altogether just to keep this cleaner.)

Is it incredible that fans would prefer McNabb's erstwhile backup to McNabb himself by an almost 2-1 margin?

Absolutely. And it's even more incredible when you consider that Vick wasn't just McNabb's backup last season. He was McNabb's backup's backup. He was clearly the third-stringer, and McNabb was traded to open up a starting role for Kevin Kolb, not for Vick.

Of course, one of the reasons for espn.com to even ask this question in the first place is that McNabb's Redskins will be playing Vick's Eagles in Philadelphia this weekend. What was already an interesting story (McNabb's return to Philly leading one of their division rivals) just became an even more interesting one. Why? Because McNabb (supposedly) was the one who lobbied the Eagles to give Vick a chance last year.

But for McNabb's efforts, who knows who would have quarterbacked the Eagles in Kolb's absence the past few weeks (Jeff Garcia?), and who knows who would be quarterbacking them this week (Kolb?). Who knows where Vick would even be this week. He might not even be in the NFL.

So now it's McNabb, arguably the greatest quarterback in Eagles history, going up against Vick, the understudy he helped recruit?

The quarterback who starred for the team for a decade versus the one who's starred for them for three games.

As if that weren't interesting enough, complicating matters further is "the Michael Vick issue." You know what I mean by "the Michael Vick issue."

On one side field will be McNabb, who was so squeaky clean that he and his mother starred in soup commercials for years. On the other side will be Vick, who served time for dogfighting, a sick and cowardly crime that some will never forgive him for and few will ever forget.

And McNabb will be the one who's booed. And Vick will be the one who's cheered.

Okay, maybe that's just Philly, whose fans would boo God Himself if He were wearing a Cowboys hat.

But, according to the espn.com poll, it may extend beyond Philly.

It's Vick who fans across the country would rather have starting at quarterback than McNabb. And it's Vick who fantasy football owners are drooling over today. And it's Vick who's the talk of every sports show and website. Wow.

This says something about football fans, and it says something about society, doesn't it?

As I've said in other musings about Vick for The League, it remains difficult to discuss Vick as a quarterback without discussing his criminal conduct. To discuss Vick as a quarterback, and only as a quarterback, you have to compartmentalize things. You have to be willing to put aside the criminal issue. You don't necessarily have to forgive it, you just need to put it to the side.

What's happening now may be something different than compartmentalizing, though. Fans may be changing their opinions about Vick's criminal conduct precisely because of what he has done on the football field these past three weeks.

There's no question what he's done the past three weeks is remarkable. But if you're going to forgive Vick for his crime, you should do so irrespective of his talent or his success on the field. In fact, if you were going to forgive him, you should have done so before his recent success because nothing he has done on the football field during the past three weeks speaks in any way to his crime or his contrition. Either you believed a month ago that he had "paid his debt to society," as they say, or you didn't.

My opinion on Vick's crime hasn't changed one bit in the past three weeks. My opinion of him as a football player has.

He's not the old Michael Vick. For three games, he's been a new and improved Michael Vick.

It's not just the indecipherable quarterback rating system that says this. (His rating apparently is higher now than it ever was with the Falcons, even during his Pro Bowl years.) No, my eyes say this, and so do yours. He's a different, better player now than he was when we last saw him with the Falcons. He seems more in control, even when he's running wildly. He seems more willing to stay in the pocket, to play within the system.

Can he keep it up?

Who knows. These three weeks may prove to be a mirage. But whatever happens, it sure will be interesting to watch, particularly this Sunday when he matches up against McNabb.

Here's betting that Vick will have a better game than McNabb.

That doesn't necessarily mean that Vick is a better quarterback. You have to take their teams and their opponents into account. And it doesn't necessarily mean that the Eagles wouldn't have precisely the same record if they had kept McNabb.

But, based on the way they are playing right now in the context of their current teams, I'd rather have Vick at quarterback today than McNabb. Half the country seems to agree.

And I never would have imagined any of this three weeks ago.

By Michael Kun  |  September 30, 2010; 12:50 AM ET  | Category:  Donovan McNabb , Michael Kun , Michael Vick , Philadelphia Eagles , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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What a dumb question. Vick of course.

McNabb plays with Moss; Vick with #10. Neither has a big time #2 WR. McNabb has a better TE. Neither have good O lines. If you think Vick has a good line, you missed the first 3 games of him running for his life. A less mobile QB, like the original starter, would be hurt. Oh wait, he is hurt.

Neither has a good running game, and actually McNabb has RB's with better stats. and despite these facts, Vick has looked good in THREE games and is 201 and 2-0 as a starter this year; and McNabb has looked good in only ONE game (a loss) and is 1-2.

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 3:37 PM

Morrisday1 its obvious you don't know much about Philadelphia. First #10 is named DeSean Jackson, 3rd in the league in receiving yards...2nd they do have two other good receivers, Jeremy Maclin (4 tds in 3 games) and Brent Celek. No running game you say, "Shady" McCoy 4 touchdowns a 6.4 yards per carry average! As for the "other" QB, Kevin Kolb is not hurt NOW! Simply replaced by a better QB in Vick.

Posted by: daddiwarbucks | September 30, 2010 4:45 PM

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