No one played the quarterback position quite like a young Michael Vick did in Atlanta back in 2001. What if he did so for the Detroit Lions?
I wrote an article on amazing athletes from other sports/teams that I wish could have played for the Detroit Lions in an alternate universe scenario and I’m continuing in the same vein with this article. In the previous piece I wrote about Bo Jackson and this time my chosen athlete is Michael Vick.
Growing up in Atlanta, I was able to witness firsthand the impact that Vick single-handedly had on the Falcons’ organization. The type of instant positive impact that he could have on an organization is the type of positive impact that Detroit lacked during the early aughts of the Matt Millen regime.
Despite a Super Bowl run during the 1998 season, Atlanta was trying to find their way again just a few seasons later. The Falcons made Vick the number one overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft. And he provided them with a spark and an all new identity.
Vick set several records while with the Falcons, including becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards (1,039) at a record setting 8.4 yards per carry. Due to financially backing and organizing an illegal dog-fighting ring on his property in Virginia, Vick missed the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons. During those seasons, Vick served 21 months in federal prison during which he was released by the Falcons.
Upon his release from prison, Michael Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. After appearing in games sparingly that year, Vick was surprisingly able to become Philadelphia’s full time starter in 2010. In 2010, Vick was finally able to put together the aspects of his game (both passing and running) and matured greatly from his days running the Falcons offense and subsequent fall from grace.
During the 2010 season, Michael Vick threw for 3,018 yards while completing nearly 63% of his passes. Vick had 21 passing touchdowns against only six interceptions and on the ground, he compiled 676 rushing yards and another nine touchdowns. After posting those numbers and navigating the Eagles to a first place finish (10-6) in the NFC East, Michael Vick was rewarded with the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.
Vick did have some knuckle-headed moments in Atlanta prior to his dog-fighting suspension/prison sentence but the manner in which he has conducted himself post-prison is admirable. He was contrite and apologetic of his previous actions, he spoke out against animal cruelty and he continues to pay his debt to society by ensuring that a new generation of young athletes don’t derail their own careers due to a bad decision making process.
Seeing him put together a phenomenal season after his self-inflicted wounds was incredibly rewarding to see as fan. I can only imagine how the second chance at redemption must have felt for Vick and his family.
Alternate universe appeal
Throughout their history, the Detroit Lions never had the type of talented dual-threat quarterback who could take over the game with his arm or legs the way Vick could. Michael Vick’s dynamic playmaking abilities could have ensured Ford Field sellouts for several years. Highlights from the early days of Vick’s career coincided with some rotten years on the field for Detroit.
If Mike Vick could have suited up and took the field representing the Motor City, I honestly feel like the Lions’ on-field fortunes would have absolutely been better than what they were from 2001-2006. From 2010 onwards, Vick’s maturity and legend status would have been able to set the tone on the field and in the locker room for some severely undisciplined Lions squads.