By Eric Brod
If you have been following the NFL for the first two weeks of the 2010 season and blinked, you may have missed the Kevin Kolb era in Philadelphia. After Kolb suffered a concussion late in the second half in the Eagles’ season opener against the Packers, Michael Vick has led the team to 52 points in six quarters and replaced Kolb as the team’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. After Sunday’s 35-32 win, head coach Andy Reid announced Kolb would be his starting quarterback. Reid then reversed his decision early Tuesday night, starting a whirlwind of controversy in Philadelphia. Displaying the rocket arm and elusiveness that made him a three-time Pro Bowler with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick has the full support of his teammates and fans.
Vick’s numbers (three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 105.5 quarterback rating) do not nearly tell the whole story of his comeback to the role of starting quarterback in the NFL. After he completed an 18-month sentence in federal prison for operating a dog-fighting ring, Vick signed a two-year deal with the Eagles in late August. The move was met with much criticism from the fan base, and tempers were not put to rest when Vick’s performance was at best mediocre and after a fight broke out at his 30th birthday party this summer.
Vick dedicated himself to becoming an advocate against animal cruelty, rededicated himself to getting into prime playing shape and became a leader on a team with an average age of just over 25. For Vick, this is a chance at redemption, a chance to redeem himself after several severe lapses in judgment that tarnished his public image and cost him millions of dollars in endorsements. Although he will never escape the stigma of past crimes committed, he can reestablish himself as the most dynamic and electrifying quarterback in the league.
Reid’s decision to start Vick could be the riskiest of his career in Philadelphia. After signing Vick in August 2009, most saw him as a one-year project to serve on offense, but otherwise considered him backup behind Donovan McNabb and Kolb. When Reid traded McNabb to Washington, it appeared Vick would still serve as a backup and appear in Wildcat formations. Just one year later, Vick is the starting quarterback for a team suddenly in competitive mode, rather than the expected rebuilding mode. The decision will be a turning point for both Reid and Vick, for better or worse.