Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980 in Newport News, Virginia) is an American football quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons NFL franchise. He is the older brother of current Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick and cousin of New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks.
Vick played college football for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Vick was an excellent high school player, but was overshadowed in his state and region by Ronald Curry, the eventual North Carolina Tar Heel who won Gatorade's National Football Player of the Year Award, and was first team Parade All-American in basketball. After a somewhat disappointing career at North Carolina, Curry went on to become a wide receiver with the Oakland Raiders. Vick, though, as a redshirt freshman with uncanny physical skills led the Hokies to the 2000 Bowl Championship Series national title game in the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Florida State University. Virginia Tech lost the game, but Vick brought the team back from a 21 point deficit for a brief lead before the ultimate result in the game that made him a household name.
Vick's follow-up campaign was one of the most hyped for a college football player in recent history, but injuries, specifically a bad ankle sprain, marred it from living up to expectations. It certainly had highlights, such as his career rushing high of 210 yards in Chestnut Hill against Boston College, but ultimately did not live up to the promise of his Sugar Bowl performance. He left for the NFL after that year.
In 2001, the Atlanta Falcons traded various draft picks and Tim Dwight to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for the first pick of the draft. The Falcons selected him as the 1st overall pick in the NFL Draft. On January 4, 2003, the Atlanta Falcons led by Vick stunned the Green Bay Packers by breaking the undefeated streak for the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. During a 2003 pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens, Vick fractured his right fibula and missed most of the 2003 NFL season. Upon his return, the Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars, going 3-1 in the final four games of the 2003 season. In 2004, he led the Falcons to a record of 11-5, earning a first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs for only the third time in franchise history. The Falcons' 2004 season ended with a defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Conference Championship game. Many would argue that Vick has nearly single-handedly transformed the Falcons from a team with an unspectacular reputation to one of the rising franchises in the NFL. The quarterback's No. 7 jersey has become one of the best-selling pieces of NFL apparel alongside the No. 81 jersey of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. Vick has also become a focal point in the growing rivalry between the Falcons and Carolina Panthers.
Style of Play
Vick is noted for his unique, explosive playing style. He is considered by many to be the most exciting player in the game of football and he has earned the nickname "Superman." Gifted with extraordinary speed and athletic ability, he can engineer big plays with both his arm and his legs. Notable is the fact that he throws the football left-handed, but does everything else with the right. In the 2004 football season (including post season), he rushed for over 1,000 yards, which is a higher rushing total than many running backs in the NFL. Vick's mobility has often caused major problems for opposing defenses, which have to defend against him differently than they would against a conventional-style quarterback. Whereas most quarterbacks are not a major threat to run the ball for a lot of yards, Vick is capable of breaking huge runs from anywhere on the field. Additionally, he has often been able to buy more time to throw by evading pass rushers with his spectacular agility and speed. Thus, opposing defenses must find ways to constrict Vick's running lanes in order to contain him. His explosive speed always makes him a danger for opposing defenses, and the Falcons are one of the few teams in the NFL to have specifically designed running plays for their quarterback.
Criticism of Vick
Michael Vick has engendered both more praise and more criticism than probably any player currently in the NFL. Vick's style of play causes the problem of injuries because his running styles puts him in dangerous situations that can hurt him more often than other quarterbacks. This caused an injury in the 2003 pre-season. Critics are also quick to to say Vick has a powerful throw but his passes are not nearly as accurate as the top passing quarterbacks of the league, such as Peyton Manning, noting that he has a relatively low QB rating and completion percentage. Prior to the 2003 season, Atlanta acquired former Buffalo Bills wide-out Peerless Price with the hopes that Price could become a favorite target and a legitimate No. 1 receiver. But Price was a massive disappointment in Atlanta, catching only six touchdowns over two seasons, and he was released by the organization prior to the 2005 season.
Some label Vick simply as an "athlete" at the quarterback position, and far from the prototypical quarterback mold. Some fans have also reacted negatively to the constant media hype that surrounds Vick, and feel that an over exuberant American media anointed Vick as the best player in football even before he had accomplished a great deal professionally. Regardless of the controversy that surrounds his playing style, Michael Vick continues to woo crowds with his unique style of play.
Off the Field
EA Sports chose Vick to be on the cover for their popular Madden NFL 2004 football video game, in which he was infamously unstoppable. Vick was struck with the infamous "Madden Curse," as in the pre-season that year he broke his leg and went on to start in only a few games, without him the Falcons were dismal and had no chance of getting into the playoffs. He also appeared in a Powerade television commercial featuring a handheld camera view of him during practice knocking receivers off their feet with his passes and then throwing a ball 100+ yards into the upper deck of the stadium. However, most of the commercial's effects were created by a computer—despite his amazing arm strength, Vick clearly didn't actually throw a ball that far.
In March 2005, Sonya Elliot filed a civil lawsuit against Vick claiming he passed on herpes to her without telling her he had the STD. She also alleged that Vick had visited clinics under the alias Ron Mexico, and therefore knew of his condition. This led to a deluge of fans ordering #7 customized Falcons jerseys on NFL.com with the name "Mexico" on the back. However, due to the media interest surrounding Vick's situation, the NFL.com website does not allow visitors to customize a Falcons #7 jersey with the name "Mexico." Two days after the lawsuit became public, the NFL blocked the jersey/name combination. In a related note, in Midway's recently-released Blitz: The League game, due to a lack of a license from the NFL, the Washington Redhawks team quarterback is a fleet footed left hander named "Mike Mexico".
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