Michael Dwayne Vick doesn’t dream small. He didn’t just want to be a NFL quarterback; he wanted to be the greatest quarterback the league has ever seen and to revolutionize his sport in the process. He knows he has been blessed with a rare and perhaps unprecedented skill-set. Indeed, he said as much in his introduction as an Eagle on Friday.
In that briefing, Vick used the right words and struck the proper chords, which was hardly surprising. (No matter what his detractors might insist, he has always been an effective speaker.) He made his apologies in the requisite amounts, and the thought occurred — just as it did two years ago in the ballroom of the Omni Hotel in Richmond — that it’s difficult to consider him a bad guy if you’re ever around him.
But as I heard Vick’s words, I got the feeling that the notion of a grand design still simmers within. As he eases back into the NFL and public life, there’s a part of Michael Vick that’s thinking: I can write the greatest comeback story in the history of sports.
The off-the-cuff remark he made to David Squires of the Newport News Daily Press — “The first year will be about getting all the way in shape; the next year will be about being the face of the NFL for the next 10 years” — was a glimpse of that Michael Vick. He has been humbled, yes, but this is not a humble man. This is a man who continues to believe he has greatness within him.
This isn’t to say Vick will overstep. He has immense respect for Donovan McNabb, who long ago escorted Vick during a recruiting visit to Syracuse and who, along with Vick, made the NFC championship of Jan. 23, 2005, the first to feature two African-American starting quarterbacks. McNabb has dealt with his own issues, from boos on Draft Day to Rush Limbaugh to Terrell Owens, and has risen above all. There’s not a better man for Vick to have as his teammate.
The greater question, at least on the field, is the one we were pondering when last Vick played a game: How good a quarterback can he be? Does he run too much to win at the highest level year upon year? Does he complete enough passes? Is disciplined enough to stay in the pocket and devoted enough to become not just a talent but a honed talent?
All I know is this: In the brief time Bobby Petrino had with Vick in the spring of 2007, the new coach was so taken with his quarterback he was telling people who worked at Falcons HQ the team was going to average 30 points a game. (And Petrino isn’t a man for idle words. Or, as we know, idle feet.)
None of us can know what is written on walls of Michael Vick’s heart — is he truly remorseful or just sorry he got caught? — but if he abides by the law and doesn’t dishonor his new employer that shouldn’t really matter. He’s no longer in federal custody. He’s a free man with a new job. He can’t change the past. He can only point toward the future, and if I know him at all I know he’s not thinking in bite-sized increments.
Michael Vick always wanted to be great. Having been brought low, he surely wants to become even greater. He wants to show the world. I’m thinking he just might.