It’s funny how things change over time, how things we never thought would happen turn out to be true.
Two years ago, who would have thought an ostracized, dog-murdering Michael Vick could return to the NFL to become the league’s MVP.
Guess what, people. The unthinkable just might happen.
A few years back I actually placed a future bet on Vick to win league MVP. Most football fans remember he was that good, or at least had the potential to be. He ended up having an awful season and I lost my money. In time, we learned Vick wasn’t as committed to his craft as he should have been.
A lot has changed since then. Anyone who has watched Vick pre- and post-lock up knows he’s infinitely better now than he was then, finally living up to his number one draft status.
In a year that’s been characterized by parity, a clear-cut candidate for league MVP has yet to emerge. Vick’s chances will be hurt by the fact that he missed games due to injury (yeah, that’s the reason) but bringing Philadelphia an NFC East title and a potential first round bye will present a body of work that’s hard to argue with.
Still, I can’t help but wonder whether Vick’s history will make voters as hard-pressed to nominate him for MVP as Heisman voters will be in selecting Cam Newton.
But consider this. No running back is having a breakout season, so a quarterback will likely win the award. Vick leads the league in quarterback rating, throwing for thirteen touchdowns and only one interception. Phillip Rivers is atop the league in passing but his Chargers are not leading a division they were expected to dominate. Peyton Manning is having an un-Peyton-like season. Aaron Rodgers is playing well but his Packers were already supposed to be one of the league’s best teams. That leaves Tom Brady, the NFL’s favorite son. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if either Brady, Rivers or Rodgers won the award, or maybe even the Jets’ Mark Sanchez or Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. None are undeserving. But Vick is most certainly in the running.
While much of the anger surrounding Vick has subsided, many still wince at the thought of him even earning a paycheck, never mind being celebrated for his performance. Either way, as a free agent, even with a lockout looming, Vick is about to be paid handsomely for his efforts.
Recently, ESPN’s Colin Cowherd called Vick’s ‘the ultimate American redemption story,’ although personally I think Josh Hamilton’s is more appropriately named.
Hamilton was recently voted American League MVP. Both Hamilton and Vick were drafted number one and expected to change their respective sports. Both faced addictions that ruined their careers. While Vick’s sins were far greater, both were eventually allowed a shot at redemption and have made the most of it. Hamilton took his team to the playoffs and won MVP. We’ll see if Vick can follow suit.
But is the league ready to nominate Vick for its highest individual honor, essentially making him the face of the league? A less-calorie, comeback player of the year award is much more foreseeable.
The NFL never apologized for allowing Michael Vick back into the league. It shouldn’t apologize for giving him the MVP if its deserved. I’m just not sure they’re ready to do either.