November 16, 2005

Vick is The Future NFL Poster Boy

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It’s very important for a freshman to decide what posters to put up in his room. Back when I was first-year student, I had some real quality posters. There was a Red Hot Chili Peppers poster, signed by Flea. I had a poster of Marisa Miller, which I choose because of the beautiful landscape around her, of course. I think there was a Martha’s Vineyard poster at one point, and there was definitely a poster of a 25-foot wave at Waimea that I can only surf in my dreams.

Yet, despite my love for the NFL, there was just one football poster in my room. A poster of my football hero. A poster of Michael Vick.

Now, what was it about the Atlanta QB that I found so compelling back then, and why is Vick still my favorite player in the NFL? Why is he still my favorite QB, even though he can’t accurately throw the football? These are important questions, and I will answer them.

* * * *

You always hear people call Vick an “athlete.” Big, fat white guys on ESPN: “He is an ATHLETE. Look at him run. Look at the speed. Wow.”

What does this really mean? For the talking heads, “athlete” has become a codeword for a “quick, (African-American) quarterback who looks like a wideout, can give you huge plays and great runs, yet has questionable throwing accuracy, and is not like the old, ‘unathletic’ QB’s, such as, say most old QB’s.

The more negative formulation of the “athlete” stereotype is that Vick is simply a physical talent – somebody who can fly, leap, jump, yet can’t manage a 10-yard completion.

Let’s start with some facts. Vick has a very low passer rating. His completion percentage is famously bad at 54.3-percent. His completion percentage has slightly improved over the past two years, as Atlanta has adopted a modified West Coast offense that includes more high-percentage passes. But, it’s still very low.

Here are some more facts. Vick has one of the highest win percentage of any young QB in recent years. Despite the fact that he has mediocre receivers. Despite the fact he’s not an accurate passer. Despite the fact that Jim Mora, Jr. needs smelling salts to stay awake.

Consider what will happen when Vick becomes a more accurate passer (which he will). Vick is going to revolutionize the position. Yes, this has been said for about five years now, but it’s true. It’s a cliche (almost as cliched as the “athlete” title), but Vick can create plays out of nowhere, can make great defenses look porous, and can make even the fastest defensive players look slow. And he has arm strength. He may not be an accurate passer yet, but he can get the ball across the field. Would you rather try and make Chad Pennington into a deep passer?

* * * *

Vick was born in 1980. I said 1980. He’s only 25. A lot of people forget that he came out of Virginia Tech early. For comparison, David Carr is a year older than him. Joey Harrington is 27. Vick – and by the way, it seems like he’s been in the league for 10 years – still has time to get better and more mature. He still has time to work on his accuracy.

Vick says the only thing that matters is winning. He’s right, of course. The Falcons are 6-3 this year, and will be in the playoffs. Again. They lost this past Sunday, but Vick turned in a very solid game the week before in a win over Miami. A very solid passing effort. And there will more of these types of performances.

The critics will always be there. And they’ve been vocal this season: “He can’t throw. He’s not a complete QB.”

But, here’s the question. Let’s say you’re starting a football team right now. What young QB do you want: Vick or, say, Harrington? Not a fair comparison? How about Vick or Carr? Even when you compare Vick to a successful young QB like Carson Palmer, you still realize that Vick plays at a different level. That’s because Vick is the future, no matter what the critics want to say.

Ted Nyman is a Sun Staff Writer. Fast Times will appear every other Wednesday this semester.

Archived article by Ted Nyman