Any team adding Michael Vick(notes) to its roster after the quarterback's time in prison would have to be interested as much in redemption as what Vick could possibly do on the field. That the Philadelphia Eagles did so in August of 2009 after Vick was released from the Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas, having served a 21-month sentence for his part in a dogfighting operation should not be too much of a surprise, because Philly's head coach has had to deal with redemption in his own family.
As Andy Reid told Steve Mariucci on the NFL Network's Gameday Morning show, Reid's experience with his two sons informed his own ability to understand what Vick might be going through. Garrett and Britt Reid were sentenced to prison time for various drug-related crimes in 2007, and the judge who sentenced the Reid sons cited "a family in crisis" at the time. Likening the Reid home to "a drug emporium", judge Steven O'Neill seemed to bring authority to a situation where there had been none.
When talking to Mariucci about the Vick transaction, Reid laid it out. "When I was going through the situation with my boys, that was the same time that Michael was going through his situation," Reid said of the sentences. "My second son got out of prison sooner than my first, and before Michael was released. So, I talked to him. I know that insecurity when you come out - I knew that when [his sons] were in, because I visited them once a week for a couple of years.
"I watched that transition take place," Reid said. "'It's everybody else's fault ... no, I blew it. I blew it and I'm never coming back.' There's three phases that they go though. Then, they're all prepped to get out and they can't wait to get out. And then, it's ‘Oh, my goodness - I'm back in the big world. Now what?' It was no different with Michael."
That level of understanding, as hard as it came for both Reid and Vick, could very well be the secret to Vick's remarkable resurgence. Reid can connect with Vick in ways that no coach he's ever had ever could, because he's had this kind of life-altering stuff happen to his own family. And Vick knows that Reid has seen the very bottom that this kind of life can bring. It's a fascinating story of two people bonded by horrible and avoidable experiences, trying to get it all back.
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- Andy Reid
- Steve Mariucci