SPORTS WATCH
Vick Back on Top With New $100 Million Contract
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 01, 2011 | 1491 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I have a buddy, “Diehard Doug,” who is a Philadelphia Eagles fan. He also owns two dogs. So when the Eagles decided to take quarterback Michael Vick back, fresh out of federal prison, in 2009, Doug was less than enthused that he would soon be inadvertently cheering for the guy who, at one time, did such monstrous things to dogs in his now-famous dog fighting ring.

Now, in a big announcement on Monday, it seems Diehard Doug will be forced to cheer for Vick a whole lot longer with a new six-year contract. Yes, Vick has come full circle. He’s gone from $100 million quarterback with the Falcons to convicted felon and, now, back to $100 million quarterback with the Eagles.

When Vick joined the Eagles, at the urging of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, he played very little in his first year back as the third-string quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

He moved up the ladder last year, beginning the season as Kolb’s backup. Sure enough, Kolb got hurt in the season opener, and once again Michael Vick was a starting quarterback in the NFL. As a starter, he played exceptionally well at times, often looking like the impressive scrambling passer he once was before his 18 months in prison. He led the team to an NFC East title last year and played in the Pro Bowl after taking the team 8-3 in the 11 games he started. He also set career highs, according to ESPN.com, in yards passing (3,018), touchdowns passing (21), touchdowns rushing (9), completion percentage (62.6) and passer rating (100.2).

With the NFL lockout taking most of the attention over the summer, for Eagles fans the question loomed of who would be the starting quarterback in the 2011 season. Would the unimpressive-yet-standup guy Kolb remain at his post as the No. 1 quarterback, or would Vick, in all his humble-yet-impressive performances from last year, be a risk worth taking for Philadelphia’s future?

Officials in the Eagles’ front office knew that the future wasn’t with Kolb, who was traded over the off-season to Arizona, where he signed a $65 million, six-year contact (suckers!). Then the Eagles picked up Vince Young, another questionable quarterback, for a year. With Vick and Young both on short-term contracts (Vick was set to start this season in the final year of his two-year contract), Eagles fans had to be nervous about just who was going to be Philadelphia’s starter, and just what was the team going to do after this season if they didn’t pick up another quarterback for the future.

Well, that question loomed large long enough, and on Monday, it was announced that Vick is the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick, who is 31, will earn $100 million in the new six-year contract, with $40 million of that guaranteed. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vick’s average of $16.7 million a year puts him just behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – the two highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Vick’s contract is the biggest per-year contract in Eagles history.

As I have said time and time again, everybody deserves a second chance and so far it seems Vick is doing everything right his second time around. He’s played well. He’s said all the right things. He’s done plenty of charity work. And he’s repaying is debts. I know that some fans, like my Eagles-loving buddy, are more reluctant to forgive him and his dog-fighting past. And if you are an Eagles fan, knowing that Vick is not only on your team but, now, the face of your team for the next six years, well, that has to be a tough pill to swallow.

The Eagles are taking a risk with Vick, that’s for sure. There are people who will never get over his criminal past. That’s just the way it is and always will be, and Vick’s dark past will be, for some, a black eye on the Eagles organization for even signing him. Is there a risk of Vick getting into trouble again? I don’t think so, but the risk certainly exists.

But the biggest risk the Eagles are taking is Vick’s style of play on the field. Making Vick a $100 million quarterback is a risk, because he is a runner, and we all know run-prone quarterbacks seldom last very long in the NFL. That’s the risk I see here. How long will it take for Vick to get himself hurt crashing across the goal line? If I were an Eagles fan, that’s what I would be worried about.

Let us not forget Vick missed four games last year after taking a hit scrambling against the Redskins. According to ESPN.com, if you take into account the two seasons Vick was incarcerated, Vick hasn’t played a full NFL season since 2006, when he played with Atlanta.

The risk of Vick getting hurt over the next six years is a much bigger risk than Vick getting himself into trouble again. (He’s got some big bills he has yet to pay.)

And I guess that’s why the team has Vince Young this year. If Vick goes down to injuries, Young will be there to take the helm. With all the off-season moves the Eagles have made, it’s easy to see that the team wants to win the Super Bowl this year.

“Philly has made nice moves this off season,” Diehard Doug told me Tuesday. “They are playing for a ring in the immediate future and a solid QB is key. Vick is the best available option.

“He’s still tough to root for, though,” he continued.

“How many Super Bowls would it take for you to forgive Michael Vick?” I asked.

For Diehard Doug, forgiveness isn’t about Super Bowl wins.

“I suppose if he’s still speaking out against dog fighting after he retires, I would consider forgiveness,” he said. “For now, he is just doing all the things he’s told to do. I think he’s a liar.”

Man, for Philly fans like Diehard Doug, having conflicting feelings about their starting quarterback must be tough. I don’t know how you root for a guy you truly hate. And here I thought the Kyle Orton-Tim Tebow-Brady Quinn-quarterback-controversy in Denver was complicated.
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