Guest Writer: Adam Jun
There are several words that come to mind while considering Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s return to prominence in the National Football League, with none more accurate than simply; highly unlikely. Before delving into the layers of Vick’s improbable comeback, it must be pointed out that the quarterback’s active participation in dog-fighting was in no way acceptable. That being said, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback has paid his debt to society in terms of his 23-month long sentencing at a Federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas and will continue to use his status as a superstar athlete to bring awareness to the anti-dog fighting campaign.
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Let’s view all the tangible and equally imposing intangible obstacles that have presented themselves in the Virginia Tech alum’s long road back to the game he loves.
1. Overcoming many people’s disdain and sincere hope that Vick fails
It would be challenging enough to block out hateful fans and animal enthusiasts when attempting to make this kind of a comeback, but consider being wished ill will by peers; potential teammates and coaches. Climbing this obstacle takes mental fortitude and a thick skin that the “average Joe” may not possess. As a qualified Joe myself I can definitely speak to the fact that being hated so vehemently by so many would absolutely cause me to lose confidence and noticeably affect performance. It takes powerful concentration, and a certain tunnel vision for Vick to triumph over the thick surrounding negativity of media and fans.
2. Receiving a second chance from an NFL organization.
There were a multitude of reasons why an NFL franchise would choose to go in another direction when deciding whether to extend a contract to the enigmatic Vick. First and foremost, with his character in question, the public backlash could really affect the team, may decrease ticket sales and at very least the by-product would be several angry fans and animal rights organizations. Secondly, The Michael-Vick experience as he came to be known in his Atlanta Falcons days relied too heavily on his natural born talent. Many wondered if he would be able to adapt in the future when his other-worldly speed and quickness began to diminish. Would Vick put in the extra time to become a complete quarterback? His last full season in the NFL had finished in a disappointing 7-9 record and no playoffs. This was when he was supposedly on the top of his game! There were definitely many more questions than answers. Vick was fortunate when against all odds Andy Reid, the Eagles coach decided after a thorough interview and a mutual understanding of how big of a risk the organization was taking, to extend an offer to Vick as the Eagles third string quarterback.
3. Vick’s own self doubt
While Michael Vick has likely never doubted his abilities on the football field, he must have wondered at his most dismal times if he could make it back to the game he was born to play. Was it worth the struggle to risk getting blacklisted from the pro ranks? Was the severe heat of the spotlight going to be too much?
John Wooden, who was named Coach of the Century by ESPN, and winner of 10 college basketball national championships including a record seven in a row at UCLA defined success this way; “Success is peace of mind of which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.”
It is clear that Michael Vick, who is the middle of leading the Eagles into the playoffs to compete for the Super Bowl is exerting all mental effort to do just that, the best that he is capable of.