Dallas (AP) — Michael Vick took a most unusual path to The Associated
Press 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award he received Saturday
In the 12-year history of the honor, no player has returned from jail to earn it.
missing two seasons serving a federal sentence for dogfighting, then
spending most of the previous year as a seldom-used backup in
Philadelphia, Vick was back at his best in 2010. Taking over as starter
in Week 2 after Kevin Kolb sustained a concussion, Vick ran and passed
the Eagles to the NFC East title and a 10-6 record.
displayed the kind of reformation away from the game that impressed a
nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
Vick received 29½ votes, easily beating Seattle receiver Mike Williams,
who got eight.
"The most fun I've ever had playing football," Vick
said. "The guys. The organization I play for now. Coaches. Players.
Just the way I live my life now. It's just been great.
person and a player I learned a lot through my experiences on and off
the field. Don't take anything granted anymore. Certainly, back then (in
Atlanta), I was just playing and having fun. I'm doing the same thing
now, but I understand the importance of it and how hard it is to get to
where we are today. I'm just thankful for the opportunity."
Andy Reid, who dealt with family problems when two of his sons were
arrested on drug charges, believed Vick could change around his life.
Few of Vick's supporters have been as staunchly behind him as Reid.
had a plan and he stuck to that, both on and off the field," Reid said.
"He knew certain things he wanted to get better at and he was open to
the coaching on it, and he got himself back into shape. ... So, he did a
great job with the football part of it.
"And then he spends a
tremendous amount of time in the public, in particular on his days off
... speaking and doing the best he can to right the wrong. You can never
erase that, but you can sure help change others from falling into that
A star in Atlanta for most of his six seasons as a
Falcon after being selected first overall in the 2001 draft, Vick missed
2007 and 2008 while incarcerated for 18 months in a federal prison. The
Eagles signed him to a two-year contract worth 6.8 million; he once had
a $130 million deal with the Falcons that was the NFL's richest.
traded Donovan McNabb to Washington in April, believing Kolb would be
the starter. He was — for one game. With Kolb sidelined, Vick was
He threw for five touchdowns overall in his first two
starts, both wins, then damaged rib cartilage against Washington,
forcing him out for 3½ games. But Reid let him keep the job, and Vick
was even more dynamic when he returned.
In a Monday nighter
against the Redskins, Vick had a performance for the ages, throwing for
four touchdowns and running for two in a 59-28 win.
He also threw
for three scores and ran for one in a 38-31 victory at the Giants, a
game in which the Eagles trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter.
has great instincts. Michael's got it all at this point," Eagles
offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "Really, the most important
quality, in my opinion, for a quarterback to have is gut instincts,
then comes the decision-making and the timing and accuracy. Then comes
the big arm and athleticism and those types of things. The gut instincts
are critical for a quarterback, and you can see that."
did Vick make a remarkable turnaround on the field, but his image is
improving away from the game. Last month, Vick signed his first paid
endorsement contract since his release from prison, a two-year deal with
Unequal Technologies, a provider of the football pads Vick wore most of
"To sum it all up, the last five months, have been
delayed gratification," Vick said. "Things that I wanted to accomplish
the last couple years that I couldn't and I had to wait for it, and I
had to be patient, and I did it and it all paid off. I just thank God
for putting me with the right group of people, with Andy, with a
flagship organization, a great group of coaches. ... They give me all
the credit, but I give them the credit."
Also receiving votes were
Minnesota linebacker E.J.Henderson (3½), New England receiver Wes
Welker, Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher and Kansas City quarterback
Matt Cassel (2 each), and Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, Seattle
running back/kick ereturner Leon Washington, and Tampa Bay rookie
running back LeGarrette Blount (one each).
Polamalu won the Defensive Player of the Year award earlier this week.