Once the face of the Falcons, Michael Vick is now just a foe

One the face of the Falcons, now a foe. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Another Vick fumble. He fumbles a lot. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Flowery Branch – Not so long ago, it was the first question posed during a Falcons-Eagles week. This time it was the last. After Matt Ryan’s media session ended, someone mentioned that he’d almost gotten away without having to speak about Michael Vick. “It was close,” Ryan conceded, and he smiled.

And that’s how we know: The hot-button issue of Vick vis-a-vis the Falcons is no longer hot; heck, it’s not even a button. He has been gone since the summer of 2007, when he was indicted on federal charges involving dogfighting. He last played for the Falcons on Dec. 31, 2006. He has now been an ex-Falcon nearly as long as he was a Falcon. He has moved on, and so have they.

Only four Falcons — offensive linemen Todd McClure and Tyson Clabo, defensive end John Abraham and wide receiver Roddy White — ever played alongside Vick here. When you ask the current Falcons about their franchise quarterback, they don’t think of a guy wearing No. 7; they think instead of the guy who wears No. 2.

“That’s a thing of the past,” said free safety Thomas DeCoud, who was drafted in April 2008, at which time Vick was in prison. “Coach (Mike) Smith came in and said, ‘This is a new regime, a new day.’ We’ve got Matt Ryan, and he’s our elite quarterback.”

Three times, the Eagles with Vick have been scheduled to meet the Falcons with Ryan. On Dec. 6, 2009, Vick returned to the building he once filled and, playing as a sub in a lopsided Philadelphia victory, led his team to two late touchdowns. This sparked considerable glee among much of the crowd. One thing, though: Ryan didn’t play because of injury. It was one of the two games he has missed since being drafted by the Falcons.

The next October, Ryan played but Vick — by then the Eagles’ No. 1 quarterback — did not. He was injured, and Kevin Kolb engineered a two-touchdown home victory that wasn’t that close. But last September it finally happened: Ryan played, Vick played (though he left late with an injury) and the Falcons surged from behind to win in the Dome. Unlike the Vick-returns-to-Atlanta lollapalooza of December 2009, the 2011 game almost seemed a mere regular-season collision of gifted teams.

For Sunday’s game, we can remove the “almost.” Said Vick, speaking Wednesday with Atlanta media via a conference call: “It’s really just another game. It’s two good football teams going head-to-head. There’s nothing extra added.”

As we know, there was a time when Vick was more than just a football player. He arrived hailed as a savior, and his success — two postseason berths and two playoff victories accomplished in dashing style — made it seem as if he had indeed revolutionized his position. Then the Falcons stopped making the playoffs and Vick drew criticism for not being a Real Quarterback (a charge that was always ludicrous, by the way), and then he got indicted.

Some deemed him a scoundrel, others a victim. The 2007 season, which started without Vick and ended with Bobby Petrino bolting for Arkansas, was a new low in the history of a franchise that had known many lows. But that was, we note again, a while ago.

It’s 2012, and Vick’s years as a Falcon, for both better and worse, belong to history. “There was a certain buzz around the stadium when he showed up,” said McClure, who remembers Vick fondly. “You saw so many No. 7 jerseys it was unbelievable.”

And now? Said McClure of these 6-0 Falcons: “Now there’s a buzz around the whole team. It’s not just one guy.”

Said White, who on the day Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail flashed a T-shirt bearing the words “Free Mike Vick” during a Monday night loss to the Saints: “He did a lot of good things when he was here.”

He did. But he hasn’t been here to play football since 2006, and the Falcons have since found a quarterback who has won at an even higher rate. (Ryan is 48-22 as the Falcons’ starting quarterback; Vick was 40-30-1.) And there’s no debate as to which man has played better in 2012.

Ryan is among the leading early candidates for league MVP. Vick, who has made nearly twice as many turnovers (13) as the Falcons have as a team (seven), has again become a flashpoint, and this time the issue isn’t dogfighting. This time it’s, “Should he be benched?”

Times have changed. Michael Vick is no longer the face of the Atlanta Falcons, and he’s no longer the center of a raging social controversy. He’s just a quarterback for another team on the schedule, the quarterback of a team that stands between the Falcons and 7-0.

By Mark Bradley

75 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

October 25th, 2012
1:46 pm

Michael who? Oh, yeah…First!

Mark Bradley

October 25th, 2012
1:48 pm

Kudos again, NC Dawg.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 25th, 2012
1:48 pm

Tell that to Ledbetter, whose blog this morning was nothing more than a blatant page view grab. Apparently I am banned from his blog, or else I would have posted on it.

Gritz Blitz

October 25th, 2012
1:59 pm

Falcons will have their best game of the season so far and come home 7-0. Rise Up!

Najeh Davenpoop

October 25th, 2012
2:00 pm

Go watch this clip and then go check the title of Bowtie’s blog from this morning.

Najeh Davenpoop Is A Rascist

October 25th, 2012
2:02 pm

Well, Ledbetter doesn’t realize it, he hates collectivists because they group people and make generalizations. Like implying everybody in Kennysaw is a redneck.

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

October 25th, 2012
2:13 pm

Once the face of the Falcons.. now just a convicted felon

gtt

October 25th, 2012
2:24 pm

I’m shocked to learn the Falcons are 88-52-1 since 2001.

gtt

October 25th, 2012
2:25 pm

Oh, wait, I forgot 2007. Never mind.

Sam

October 25th, 2012
3:15 pm

The “Michael Vick Experience” was great for awhile, but every ride has an end. I’d much rather be riding the “Matty ‘Ice’ Ryan Express”.

dean

October 25th, 2012
3:16 pm

I hope Vick goes 20/30, only 1 fumble, 1 int, and the Falcons win by 1, when he fumbles at the goal line (as time expires) because Sean Weatherspoon puts a RGIII kind of hit on him.

This Gets Old

October 25th, 2012
3:22 pm

@Najeh “Apparently I am banned from his blog, or else I would have posted on it.”

I am too because I asked him why he ran so many stories about MV. The same thing with DeAngelo. That act got old really early and Mike lied to the entire city and an owner who 1) Gave him an outrageous contract and 2) Stood beside him. Mike isn’t owned anything in this town.

Steve

October 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

Anyone who stands by Vick, fan or player, should be shot.

Stinger 2

October 25th, 2012
4:54 pm

Anything other than a report story of a game Vick plays in or an injury report, is a no story or non event by now.

falconfever

October 25th, 2012
4:54 pm

Great Article MB, I remember the Vick days fondly.. He brought fun back to Falcon football but he is gone and we have a awesome team this season.

School of Non-Violence

October 25th, 2012
4:56 pm

and Arthur Blank pushed his wheelchair.

Ivan

October 25th, 2012
5:01 pm

“He’s just a quarterback for another team on the schedule…”

The h*** you say. Crush him, Falcons.

Ivan

October 25th, 2012
5:04 pm

“I hope Vick goes 20/30, only 1 fumble, 1 int, and the Falcons win by 1, when he fumbles at the goal line (as time expires) because Sean Weatherspoon puts a RGIII kind of hit on him.”

Screw that. I hope he goes 15/30, 2 fumbles, 2 ints, we see him spit blood again, and the Falcons win 35-6

D. Bell

October 25th, 2012
5:20 pm

I’ll be surprised if Vick plays the whole game — either he leaves due to injury or he’s bench after a rash of turnovers.

1990_Champs_GT

October 25th, 2012
5:47 pm

I’m not as old as some of the fans on here, I’m 35, but I think 2007 was the worst year to be a Falcon fan.

Vick goes to jail (and rightfully so), making the Falcon symbol a target for people who have never watched a game. A coach (who I didn’t really want) that felt I should be given a pass on the season because of the circumstances flew from a loss to our hated rivals into the state I LIVE IN to take a sub-par SEC job.

But it is 2012. Vick hasn’t had any real success since he paid his debt. He who we do not speak of rose expectations in this lowly part of the country just to have them ripped away (along with his job and skin…ouch).

And our little football team is undefeated and has the inside track to both the division and home field advantage.

Karma has a way of dealing with people even if it takes a little while, don’t it?

Willydoit?

October 25th, 2012
6:14 pm

Surely the days of wearing the #7 jersey are over, right?!?!?

Sargent Carter

October 25th, 2012
6:57 pm

Arthur Blank was a relative rookie owner when he canned Dan Reeves. Reeves understood Vick’s part in the offense. Since then, we have had Jim Mora, Bobby Petrino and Mike Smith as head coaches, Mora=the players’ buddy, Petrino, the college coach, and Smith-the formula coach with no idea how to win a playoff game. We would have been well served to keep Reeves and Vick together.

Mr. Mustard

October 25th, 2012
8:11 pm

Vick still can’t figure out how to read defenses nor hold onto the ball. The guy is done, flamed out and botched it at the height of his fame.

Good test for the Falcons, and I hope we see a mature team playing at their best and not the team from two weeks ago.

tjhook

October 25th, 2012
8:55 pm

I agree with Sgt. Carter about Vick and Coach Reeves but Reeves made it tough on Blank by trying to muscle away a GM position

D man

October 25th, 2012
9:00 pm

Its time to start playing the way we did te first three weeks. Go FALCONS!!!

don't even act like it

October 25th, 2012
9:16 pm

you Falcon fans will be wearing your old school #7 jerseys Sunday. Quit hating!! Vick’s out, Vick’s a better person and Vick got his money. Deal with it clowns.

Mora less Petrino

October 26th, 2012
12:38 am

I like Smith, but I believe the Bird would be okay if Reeves was still here and Wade Phillips was still running the D.
I hoped Vick would do great things here, but I came to realize that he does not have the on field leadership or work ethic to win big. He’s play great one game, then terrible the next. Fans and media would get on him, so he’d be great the next game, then kick back and stink it up the next week.
If I’m not mistaken, his last two years here the Birds finished 8-8, last year in Philly, with Vick as the starting QB, the Eagles finished 8-8. At the moment, with Vick under center, 3-3! .500 is probably about as good as it will ever be for a team with Vick running the O.
Not hating on the old QB, but if the Falcons called the Eagles and offered Matt Ryan for MV straight up, do you think the Eagles would say no? The better QB is wearing red.

Mora less Petrino

October 26th, 2012
1:59 am

Forecast for Philly on Sunday is 56 degrees with a 60% chance of rain!

Esquire

October 26th, 2012
5:50 am

“In 2009, the Falcons’ front office didn’t like Reid inserting quarterback Vick into the game late so that he could receive some cheers from his fans at the Georgia Dome.”

If you cheered this guy while wearing Falcon colors you just aren’t a true Falcons fan, just a lowly turncoat. Vick was “given” every opportunity to succeed in this town. He was cheered in that game for all the wrong reasons. He should have been resoundly booed.

If that was you feel free to shop til you drop here, you don’t deserve to wear the Red, Black, White, and Silver Falcon colors:
http://tinyurl.com/9thbko7

North by South-east

October 26th, 2012
5:55 am

@Don’t even act like it…I don’t hate Vick. Frankly, he’s probably paid a higher penalty for killing dogs than anyone in our nation’s history. He’s paid his dues and moved on. I just wish everyone else would as well. Vick will be the first to tell you that he never lived up to his potential in Atlanta. “Last one to practice, first to go home” was how I think he put it. His time in Atlanta is nothing more than a footnote now. Kind of ridiculous that the Falcons have been matched up against the Eagles every year since his return. Hopefully the scheduling wizards over at the NFL will stop milking this contrived “rivalry.”

Six and O Falcons

October 26th, 2012
8:12 am

Another Atlanta rise up equals 7-0.

BubbaDaBaller

October 26th, 2012
8:15 am

The saga of “Hype Myth” #7 continues…Fortunate for the other 31 coaches in da league he’s killing
Andy Reid and probably will get one more before the Tidewater Typhoon retires…”Oh, what could have been” should be the title of his autobiography…

Coach Killer

October 26th, 2012
8:49 am

Vick working his magic on Andy Reid……

Ivan

October 26th, 2012
10:03 am

“The Jets reportedly will try to trade Tim Tebow before the Oct. 30 deadline. Hey, Ohio State needs a backup. Jets cover 2.”

Andy Reid!! There’s your saving grace!!

bigeasy830

October 26th, 2012
10:28 am

Great column Mark.

Manny

October 26th, 2012
11:07 am

Hi! Michael Vick last played for the Falcons 6 years ago. If you had a kid when Vick left, that child would’ve been in 1st Grade. It’s been that long ago, so can we just let it go?

As far as the Falcons-Eagles game itself, this is one game that scares me. Not because of Vick. I think he’s more distraction than anything. I think it’s the fact that we need to stop the run on defense. If I see some run stoppage, I’ll be happy. If I don’t, the Falcons will lose this game.

By the way, 6-0, 7-0, 8-0 doesn’t matter that much to me. I kinda want the Falcons to lose, so we can have the whole Streak thing behind us and focus on winning one game at a time. Being undefeated in a streak is overrated compared to winning playoff games. And I want a playoff win. This streak makes me nervous.

A Casual Observer

October 26th, 2012
11:48 am

It would have been a dead issue long ago if you didn’t keep writing about it.
Enough! Vick & The Eaglets are just another date on the schedule…win or lose.

Vick Supporter

October 26th, 2012
11:50 am

I’ll tell you what. Vick and the Eagles need to get together fast and i think this will be the game that we get on a roll. If we don’t turn the ball over, its a guranteed win. The Falcons do not have the players to beat my Eagles nor do they have the QB to fit the ball into the tight windows that will be there on Sunday.

Not trying to down “Ice”, but we’ve got TWO PRESS CORNERS who can play. We can stop Roddy…Julio will probably get his, but it won’t be enough.

Vick will dominate. 3td passes and one rushing td

Go Eagles

BravesFan79

October 26th, 2012
12:44 pm

I predict a Falcons win and a Vick fumble on a sack. Go Falcons!
And think how good the Falcons would of been back in 2001-2005 if they had just used Vick as the QB on 1st and 2nd downs, and Shaub as the guy when needing to throw for a first down, or when loosing in the 4th quarter! I think the Falcons could of gone all the way with that rushing attack and Shuab as QB in crucial situations, and we should of used Vick like the Jets use Tebow.
Im not saying this just being Shuab is now one of the best QB’s in the league with the Texans, but because i was saying this back in 2003, 2004 on these very same blogs!
Vicks record in games when trailing going into the 4th quarter was AWFUL!

Connor

October 26th, 2012
12:51 pm

Mark, 5 current Falcons played with Vick. Jonathan Babineaux played with him too

SalleyButcher

October 26th, 2012
1:28 pm

Everyone is raving about how great Matt Schaub is. I was saying the same thing on these blogs back in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but no one listened to me. AS I ACCURATELY STATED LAST WEEK, “Schaub is the greatest qb in NFL history to throw the deep pass!” He doesnt it effortlessly with just a flick of his wrist. No other quarterback is as good. I am not saying that shaub is the greatest qb in nfl history–im saying that schaub can throw the deep ball like no one else has–and this year Schaub will be rewarded for it by winning his first superbowl crown. I’m happy for schaub because schaub probably will not have enough years remaining to get inducted into pro footballs hall of fame in Canton, Ohio. Had Schaub not lost 8 years backing up mike vick in atlanta, schaub would have gone down as the GREATEST QB IN NFL HISTORY. Oh well Schaub can thank Mike Vick and dumbbell coach Dan Reeves for not discovering his talents sooner and ruining his career and chances to he enshrined in Canton. THANKS VICK FOR SCREWING UP ANOTHER CAREER!

Mora less Petrino

October 26th, 2012
1:36 pm

Hey BravesFan79, I;m with you. I knew they were trading the wrong QB when Schaub went to Texas. Think of how some team would have way overpaid for Vick. The Falcons would still be benefiting from the multiple draft picks they would have gotten at the time. The picks would be veteran players now. Instead, ATL got nothing but embarrassed.

RodStrickland

October 26th, 2012
1:37 pm

Vick has just about worn out his welcome in Philly. As most fans believe, Vick will be losing his starting job soon because Vick has become a turnover machine, throwing picks and fumbling footballs faster than the Eagles cheerleaders and ball return guys can scoop up the footballs after the footballs have been coughed up on the carpet. If vick continues his sloppy play, shoveling fumbles to opposing teams players and kicking the football around (like a pig in a slop house), Vick should be given his marching orders soon and Reid should be cutting vick off the roster at about the next time when vick fumbles the next eagles contest into oblivion. Vicks career should be over (fortunately, hopefully) by the end of this season. That would be a much deserved–GOOD RIDDENS and ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.

Matt Ryan's Dad

October 26th, 2012
2:03 pm

SalleyButcher: “Had Schaub not lost 8 years backing up mike vick in atlanta, schaub would have gone down as the GREATEST QB IN NFL HISTORY”

Since Schaub was drafted in 04, I’m not sure how he spent 8 years backing up Vick…

Josh

October 26th, 2012
2:53 pm

If he’s just another foe – as you say – then articles like this should either not be written or should be written every week about every opposing QB. The point is, he’s NOT just another QB. And every time an article like this is written it just digs up the past. Let’s just play the game, beat the Eagles and got to 7-0. I’d love to NOT read about Vick, dog fighting, and Petrino every time the Eagles come to town.

Josh

October 26th, 2012
2:55 pm

@Sargent Carter – except for that whole dog fighting thing and a federal prison your plan seems flawless. How exactly would the Falcons have been well-served by that?

SalleyButcher

October 26th, 2012
2:58 pm

Schaub was drafted in ‘01, the same year mike vick was drafted. shaub spent 7 years backing up vick through 2008, then schaub was traded to the Texans and schaub has been with houson for four years–becoming the best qb in the league, behind the big 4–AARON ROGERS, DREW BREES, PEYTON MANNING, AND TOM BRADY. Ok, I missed it by one year–it was 7 years wasted and rusting behind the coach-killer, vick.

moorman

October 26th, 2012
3:11 pm

and there they go….setting themselves up for disappointment after the eagles show out on the falcons sunday……..lol

Paddy

October 26th, 2012
3:23 pm

I just enjoy watching the games. MV is yesterdays newspaper now. I really don’t care how he plays because he is just another enemy QB that needs to go down in flames.

Clemson Brad

October 26th, 2012
3:26 pm

Mark…..Spot on with this one. Well written.