When linebacker Ernie Simms zeroed in for a sack, he had no intention on causing a concussion that could signal the end of a quarterback’s starting role in the league.
As Michael Vick dropped back for a pass, he did not expect to possibly play his last second, minute, hour, and game as a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Unfortunately, the two worlds of both players collided.
In the 2nd quater of the Eagles-Cowbays Novermber 11 game, Vick felt the oncoming rush by Simms, got rid of the ball, fell down on impact, and banged his head against the turf.
It is within the realm of possibility that Simms not only brought down Vick the player, but also the legacy of one of the most athletic, electrifying players in NFL history.
The latest memory of Vick as an Eagle is currently buried under the turf of Lincoln Financial Field.
Excavating Vick’s legacy will solely rest on the acceptance of a future team, coach, owner, and general manager, all of whom would have to be willing to give him another chance. By the looks of things, however, that may never happen as it did in Philadelphia.
As Vick gingerly walked to the locker room to be examined, he looked glossy-eyed and dazed. One could hear viewers mumble “here we go again,” as injuries have become all too common for the former Falcon quarterback. A shaky offensive line, his own all-out play, cracked ribs, a bruised thumb, and concussions have doomed and betrayed the great redemption story of Michael Vick.
When Pam Oliver uttered the harrowing diagnosis of a concussion, I couldn’t help but wonder if Vick would soon call it quits.
But I also realized something else: with Vick probably not starting another game, the door is almost completely closed on the era of the three quarterbacks that I grew up watching and imitating–Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick. Vick is the last hope.
Peyton was great, Brady was elite, Favre was an ageless wonder, but the two way ability of Culpepper, McNabb, and Vick to make plays resonated with me as a young lad. They were solid passers, but watching them run around and escape in Houdini-like ways is what made me an instant fan.
From what I remember, Vick was the fast, spry, elusive one, who confounded defenders while he herked and jerked, spun and run, and stopped and popped his way to long gains. I recall running around in my living room pretending to be some kind of lefty armchair quarterback in the mold of a Michael Vick. I pretended that Alge Crumpler and Peerless Price were going racing down the gridiron and I was Michael Vick scrambling around trying to throw a deep pass or surprise the defense by taking off.
Daunte Culpepper was the dude with the cool last name and funny “roll” dance. He wasn’t the athlete that Vick was but he was a better passer who possessed a rough and tumble run game. He was much bigger than Vick and could bowl through defenders without relying on total guile. I imitated Culpepper’s touchdown connections with Randy Moss, and copied his dance in which he would circle his forearms around one another and shimmy around. Unfortunately, after a 2005 knee injury, he never regained his football prowess, and soon fizzled out of the league.
McNabb was the happy-go-lucky, quarterback by day, chunky soup pitchman by night. I remember him always wearing a smile and enjoying his job. He was the quarterback of my favorite team–the Philadelphia Eagles. He had a unique throwing motion that I attempted to duplicate, while imagining that Freddie Mitchell, Chad Lewis, and Terrell Owens went deep. I scrambled to the right side of the room while being chased down by a defensive lineman, and fired a pass down the field. I did McNabb’s quirky touchdown celebrations. However, like Culpepper, and possibly Vick, McNabb’s career ended in a way he didn’t like.
None of the three quarterbacks have ever won a Super Bowl, but their impact on many fans and the game football is enough to be remembered . Their success paved the way for other scrambling quarterbacks whom are currently on display in the league.
Although Vick’s status is not sealed yet, he deserves to leave the game he loved in a more gracious manner than McNabb and Culpepper experienced. This chapter in his comeback story should not be closed or ripped out because of uncontrollable situations.