A few days before Michael Vick’s return as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he asked another athlete for an autograph for the first time in his life.
Four years ago, and for many reasons, such a thing would never have occurred. But that was then, when Vick was arguably the most electric player in the league, earning millions and starring in TV commercials.
On this day – as the Eagles’ backup quarterback who will finally getting a shot against Detroit Sunday because starter Kevin Kolb is recovering from a concussion – he was just a dad fetching a memento for his 5-year-old daughter from her favorite player, wide receiver DeSean Jackson. When Vick, now 30, was on the cover of the Madden video game in 2004, Jackson was in high school.
The moment reflected how life has changed for Vick, about whom huge questions still swirl. Mainly, has Vick himself really changed and can he control his instinct to freelance – sometimes to the detriment of his team – and operate within an offensive system?
When Vick was a celebrity-athlete with the Atlanta Falcons for the first phase of his career, he never had a receiver as electrifying as Jackson. Vick’s speed made him electrifying himself, but he was the quarterback, and quarterbacks were supposed to make plays with their arms, not their legs.