Sunday, December 19, 2010

Michael Vick Matures Into Leader, Engineers Comeback of Ages

He does seem like a worthy candidate for the MVP award, despite that Michael Vick was thrilled bankrolling a dogfighting ring as his amusing activity outside of football. It was a time for him to prove to us, no doubt, that he's the best quarterback in the NFL, one of the most sensational players with versatility of a gifted star on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Not surprisingly, the permissive citizens here waited no time pampering him with adulation, allowing the speedy quarterback a second chance after he paid his debts to society, well at least, most people believed it anyway. It's a shame, as we offer adoration to a man who still presents remorse and earns reverence with his gracious and humbled charisma, that we live in a society very forgiven of a horrific past, rooting for Vick as if he's never broken the law.

If there were ever a proper moment to release the sickening memories of his wrongdoings, when he almost sabotaged his image and his remarkable career for electrocuting, drowning, hanging or shooting dogs, it is now since he has been the vital element of the Eagles this season. What really matters is not the infamous operation called Bad Newz Kennels, not the shame of a diabolical past, not that he was once a criminal with no morals or ethical principles, but that he's wildly commended in a town which could be ungrateful and senseless at times.

It's already been forgotten by many that he was a problem-child in the NFL with the Eagles en route of possibly clinching a playoff berth in the upcoming weeks, to surely shock the people in an improbable season. The other night he walked into the Sixers game and fans gave Vick a standing ovation, madly applauded and overwhelmed him with chants of "MVP, MVP."

The most amusing part of his towering season, as the focal point of a team with postseason potential, is that Vick is respectively agile in open field and has been problematic to thwart in midfield. And while he has been a factor of leading the Eagles, Vick is currently the MVP hopeful in a season he was given the starting assignment to replace an inconsistent Kevin Kolb. Remember him? The backup quarterback who had been benched as the starter after he sustained a concussion.

By the time coach Andy Reid finished playing musical chairs with his tandem of quarterbacks and figured out that he was comfortable assigning the starting job to his accelerated performer, he finally deserted the switcheroo of juggling his quarterbacks each week and simply named Vick as the starter. Since then, he has been an asset to the Eagles schemes, a likable man although he served a 20 month sentence for a federal dogfighting conviction, only to redeem himself of fraud and dishonesty.

This, not long after he poorly used bad judgment when a so-called comrade was shot at Vick's untamed birthday party that associates from the public were welcome to partake in. And to escape from the ravaged troubles in the past, he is solely a component the Eagles need to pilot them. Its deep receiver core that is really unstoppable and nifty, is compelled to outplay a defense without heart and balance, normally beating down the coverage provided by their opponents.

This was, after all, a different Philadelphia team from the one early in the season before Vick took over and began to play with heart and determination, glowing as the comeback story in the NFL this season. He is, by far, the toughest speedster in the league and has the mobility to frustrate defenders, hasty eluding pressure in the pocket and crazily dusting through traffic and gains yardage when he separates from the pass rush.

For years, they'll tell stories about a miraculous comeback, one which will live on for the ages in the history of the Eagles, and a team that had been in serious need of a miracle on Sunday against the New York Giants. Among all things, the Eagles were trailing by 24-3 at halftime and almost were taken down in a humiliating loss. But suddenly in the second half, Giants fans were in disbelief to watch Philly tie it at 31-31 with 1 minute, 16 seconds left. And then the miracle happened. There he was, DeSean Jackson, after fumbling the ball on a punt, retrieving it in a hurry and returned it 65 yards for the stunning game-winning touchdown.

"I have never been around anything like this in my life," a stunned Tom Coughlin said after the disheartening collapse. "It's about as empty as you get to feel in this business."

As for the letdown, when Vick was uncovered and untouched in the final quarter to engineer a masterful drive. Coughlin cringed angrily and had a confused look on his face as he tossed his head gear and met punter Matt Dodge on the field, where he screamed at him to light him up brighter than a Christmas tree. Not only that, with a large lead at home, he saw it dwindle instantly as the Giants couldn't survive in the end, giving it away to the Eagles. And just like that, Philly was on top with a staggering 38-31 lead to suddenly cap the win and advance into first place in the NFC East.

"By far, this is one of the greatest comebacks of my career, being down by such a huge deficit," Vick said after the Eagles clinched the division with a 10-4 record. "We were able to come back in a short period of time. It's outstanding. I give a lot of credit to my teammates. I have to thank God for the opportunity, but it was, by far, one of the best."

Yes, it was one of the best finishes in the history of sports.

For the Eagles, after surviving maybe its toughest test all season, they can win one of their next two starts now that they own the division lead. For now, the Giants are in trouble, not prevailing in critical situations to avoid the hassle and must win at Green Bay and Washington to ensure a spot in the postseason. That is hardly an easy task, now after suffering a painful heartbreaker at home in front of a fervent crowd.

But, in the meantime, Vick has grown quickly into the leader in a turnaround season and handles the leadership role with dignity and humility. It was the lack of effort defensive wise, just as the Eagles drove the ball aggressively to exhaust and outsmart the demise of the Giants defense that relapsed and cost the Giants another loss to the Eagles, who swept them in two games this season.

How did this happen? Really, how did this happen? No really?

As he finally had a 35-yard scramble and dashed in the middle, along with a 33-yard scramble, Vick continued to run as a way to wear out and irritate the Giants. And this was before he connected with tight end Brent Celek on a 65-yard touchdown pass. All along though, it was a disastrous mistake kicking the ball to an explosive Jackson, particularly when Dodge failed to follow instructions to boot an onside kick.

The point is, of course, that Vick created the miracle and has been putting together the unimaginable to avoid blitzes, fumbles and turnovers, not turning out as a disappointment, but an important player going down the stretch.

Was this the greatest comeback in ages? Absolutely.

"I can't name another one of these," Reid said. "This is exciting. It's a great day to be a Philadelphia writer."

Yes, it is a great day to be writer, because this was one of the best stories I've ever dwelled on.