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The former Hokie changed the NFL’s ideas of what a quarterback could and should do.
Associated Press | File 2012
Michael Vick grabbed the football universe’s attention dodging would-be tacklers and electrifying crowds as the quarterback at Virginia Tech. Now the Philadelphia quarterback is battling to revive his career facing a generation of quarterbacks who grew up emulating him.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick throws a pass as Nick Foles looks on during practice at the NFL football team's training facility on Thursday.
Associated Press|File 2012
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) grew up watching Michael Vick scamper around the field.
Associated Press|File 2012
Washington’s Robert Griffin III tore his ACL last season. Potential for injury is the biggest knock on mobile quarterbacks.
Monday, September 9, 2013
ASHBURN — He dashed around tacklers and electrified crowds at Lane Stadium, then promised to change the position in the NFL.
But football is a game that evolves at a rapid pace, and in the blink of an eye, Michael Vick has become something different. He is now the elder statesman among mobile quarterbacks, a 33-year-old who holds court on the issues of the day, reliving his role in making it happen.
He’s not done, of course. Vick will quarterback the Philadelphia Eagles tonight against Robert Griffin III, a player who grew up watching Vick scamper around the football field.
The conventional wisdom on Vick’s career is one of unrealized potential. That undersells his contribution to the game, though. Vick promised a revolution. And the revolution is here.
Ambassador of mobility
What could he do now?
What if Michael Vick was a 20-year-old phenom suiting up for the Hokies today, about to enter an NFL with the read-option offense and a million other advantages for mobile quarterbacks?
He admits to thinking about it, but also embraces his new role, representing the new generation of players who have built on his foundation and changed the game.
“I feel like I was kind of the ambassador of this offense in the NFL,” he said Wednesday. “I was the originator. In 2006, I ran for 1,000 yards running this same type of read-option offense. It’s in the record books.”
Griffin, the Redskins’ quarterback, said that’s not overselling it. He, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are three of the most visible players in the new wave of talent sweeping the league, one that is better prepared to handle a mobile quarterback.
“Vick was definitely a guy that, it was hard not to watch him,” Griffin said. “He’s paved the way for a lot of quarterbacks, like myself.”
The battle for full acceptance isn’t over. Vick and Griffin both made sure to emphasize on Wednesday that they want to be known, first and foremost, for their arms.
Redskins’ running back Alfred Morris, who entered the league with Griffin, said the main thing they don’t get enough credit for is their smarts.
“Being a quarterback, you have way more on your plate,” Morris said. “They have to know what everybody else is doing. They have to make the right decisions, make the right throws, make the right audibles, know the blitzes. You have to be smart. There’s just so much going on, you have to be mentally prepared for whatever the game throws at you.”
The biggest obstacle mobile quarterbacks face is the perception that they’re more prone to injury. It’s one that is grounded in fact.
Vick missed considerable time over the course of his playing career, and Griffin tore his ACL after just one NFL season.
Referencing his 1,000 yards rushing in a season, Vick joked that he “probably should have had other goals, too.”
He said he finally feels comfortable knowing when to go for an extra yard and when to slide. It’s a lesson Griffin didn’t have to learn in college, when he could just outrun tacklers.
Vick relishes read option
As Griffin launches his own comeback tonight, Vick again will try to reinvent himself.
He won the starting job in Philadelphia under new coach Chip Kelly, who made a living off the read-option offense at Oregon.
“[Vick] has a real good skill set for what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Kelly said.
For Vick, it’s an opportunity to finally participate in the offense that was built to accommodate players with his abilities.
He said he was running the read-option in Atlanta, but the wrinkles introduced by coaches like Kelly and Jim Harbaugh have provided support.
Vick’s career was interrupted by jail time, but he also struggled to shed his reputation as an underachiever on the field, something the read-option might have changed.
“I think about it, and what I could have been able to accomplish,” he said. “But I also respect the fact that I came in 2001, and I had a different set of coaches who built things differently. And I learned so much from them that having that dimension now to my game, adding that only makes me a better quarterback.”
His experience has changed the league.
Now as Vick tries to revive his career, he’ll have to do it against the players he inspired more than a decade ago.
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