August 31, 2011

Has Michael Vick Earned His Second $100 Million Contract?

For those who have spent time in jail, the hardest part after getting out is finding an employer who is willing to put an ex-con on their payroll.

That is, of course, if you can throw a dark, mahogany-brown, spherical-shaped pigskin over fifty yards and have the speed of a world-class athlete.

After one of the greatest comeback seasons ever witnessed in professional sports, Michael Vick is now back atop the league when it comes to getting paper. According to a report by Yahoo! Sports, the Philadelphia Eagles have presented their star QB with a six-year deal worth $100 million, including about $40 million guaranteed.

It’s been a tumultuous ride for the one-time highest paid player in the NFL. After Vick signed that monumental deal with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 (10-year, $130 Million to be exact), his life spiraled out of control from riches galore, to a living hell, all leading up to a fairy tale possibility of living a “happily ever after” ending.

The former Virginia Tech quarterback was lamented as the most electrifying athletes in all of football, then was plastered with a new moniker as one of the most hated faces in all of sports and was imprisoned for eighteen months in a Federal prison. He slowly began reconfiguring his life as a humbled player just looking for a spot on a professional football team once he left incarceration. This new deal with the Eagles reiterates that the 31-year-old star is back and once again one of the most exciting players in the league.

Then again, does it really mean that?

Although his 2011 season was a marvel to watch and virtually unprecedented in comparison to any other quarterbacks who were given second chances, the body of work for a player to receive such a large reward is a bit of a stunner. Yes, Vick threw for over 3,000 yards, 21 TDs, and a QB rating over 100 in only twelve games last season (feats he’s never accomplished in any full year of his career) and appears to be a true pocket-passer now; but his body of work as a starter since his return back to the NFL (eleven starts in 24 games) is miniscule for a player to be given such an absorbent contract.

So begins the conundrum: is this new contract with the Philadelphia Eagles valid for Vick?

There is no denying the Vick-factor when it comes to games in which he’s behind center.

All eleven defenders must account for the elusive QB because of his ability to break the pocket and make positive plays that appear doomed for loss of yards. It’s even scarier now because of the new found patience that Coach Andy Reid has instilled in his starting quarterback that illustrates his confidence in his arm and ability to read coverages to make the right decision. They don’t just give out a 100 rating for QBs just because he’s great, but because he makes smart choices and gives his team the best opportunity to win.

Despite those eye-popping runs he can make and better all-around play as a pure quarterback in Philadelphia, Vick still hasn’t proved enough to say he belongs in the upper-echelon of elite QBs.

The type of contract that he received is in the same ball park as others such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Despite getting that kind of money, would any person take Vick over the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots star? What about other QBs who are near those two (such as Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, or Eli Manning)? While he is a much more dynamic player than any of the other six listed, anyone of them would be quickly taken by any GM in the league before Vick would.

Along with the comparison with his cohorts being an issue, there’s the work he’s done leading up to the signing of his new contract. Not only is there the issue of only starting eleven games being too inconclusive to validate his new contract, but there is also the concern of his post season history.

Football, unlike other sports such as baseball and basketball, is very dependent upon performance given that its regular season is only a mere sixteen games. So, while being efficient in the regular season is important for all teams if they want to reach the postseason, it is what they do in the playoffs that constitutes justification on a future big pay day.

As great as Vick is in regular season, he is the total opposite when the playoffs roll around. In the games he has started with the Falcons and Eagles, his record in the playoffs is 2-3, with only one appearance in the NFC title game (which he lost). He’s only had a QB rating over 80 just once in those games and is insignificant when trying to lead a team to just appear in the Super Bowl. Along with the borderline playoff play, his TD total is equal to his INT totals in the post season games he starts (four in both categories).

The hope is that this new massive deal won’t be a revival of the narcissistic Vick that the public saw after he signed on that first big contract extension in 2006 with the Falcons. If he continues to progress as he has done last year and can push his team to the top in the future, then this deal with the Eagles will have validated itself. It’s obvious though that he has much to live up to in order to vindicate that he’s deserving of this bonus, now that the franchise have entrusted him with confidence that he can live up to those expectations in the next six years.

For Vick though; this should be considered as more of a blessing than a contract he’s earned, not just because of the short-length of return, but also due to the fact that many previously imprisoned federal convicts are never given a second chance in life…

…especially not as lucrative an opportunity as he’s been given.

By Norcal JW with No comments


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