But throughout his career, Michael Vick has been electric on the football field. He's one of those athletes you pay to watch perform. He's the greatest of all running quarterbacks aesthetically speaking, someone who can turn a broken play into something sublime. He takes a snap from center and you expect to see something special happen.
At this point, it certainly appears we'll soon be saying all that in the past tense, at least as far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned. Vick isn't likely to play again this season unless Nick Foles gets hurt. Hey, the way NFL players get concussions these days, that's certainly always a possibility. Foles has had one this season.
Even so, Vick may have to do something extraordinary with such an opportunity to return to the Eagles, and perhaps the entire NFL. He'll turn 34 in June and has had injury problems in recent years. His passing acumen has been hot and cold for most of his career.
This could be the end of Michael Vick. Then again, Vick has been on that precipice before.
He had developed into a megastar in his six years with the Atlanta Falcons until the dog-fighting scandal that landed him in prison and turned him into one of the more reviled people on the planet. Upon his release, the Eagles were willing to take a chance on him as a backup in what proved to be Donovan McNabb's last year with the team - 2009. The following season, he was in the same role behind Kevin Kolb.
Kolb went down with a concussion in the season opener and Vick proved too good in his stead to remove, turning in the best season of his career. The highlight of that season was a game for the ages against McNabb's new team, the Washington Redskins. Vick's stellar 2010 performance resulted in a big contract and a surprising reversal overall in public perception.
The Eagles went to the playoffs in that season and haven't returned. Vick certainly had his good moments in 2011 but it's been a steady decline since for him and the team since. This year, he's been on the sidelines with knee problems while Foles has emerged and turned him into an afterthought.
Vick said this week he still has what it takes to be an NFL starter and hopes to get the chance to prove it again. Will he get that opportunity? Would he go to a difficult situation such as Jacksonville where his star quality might fill some seats? Would he be content to hold a clipboard someplace and take the corresponding pay reduction? Would another NFL team want him in such a role, considering his baggage?
His best shot would be a worst-case thing for Foles in the remaining weeks this season. Vick would need to come to the rescue again and drive the Eagles to the playoffs, as he did in 2010. If Foles stays behind center the rest of the way, it could be the end for Michael Vick.
If he insists on proving himself to the NFL, there might be Canadian Football League or Arena League possibilities. If he chooses to retire, there will probably be options for television movie about his life as well as a nationwide crusade for animal rights. And if he's done, he'll no doubt show up as a football analyst for some network. It seems pretty much everyone who has been among the NFL's elite at some point does.
But for those of us who just enjoy watching Michael Vick do what he's done better than any quarterback - elude defenders rushing downfield with amazing speed and quickness, we'll be relegated to YouTube.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.
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