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Michael Vick - The Hits Keep Coming; Andy Reid Stands Up For QB

Michael Vick has been phenomenal this year.  There really isn't too much more to say about Michael Vick's performance.  When you say something like the "hits keep coming," usually it's a positive thing.  In the case of the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback, it's not a good thing at all.  For as well as Michael Vick has played so far this season, he has taken an awful lot of hits.  At some point, the law of averages says Michael Vick will wind up injured.  If the Eagles are to make a run at the playoffs, they will need the man who has led this offense to continue in that role.

There was a time when most people would have laughed at the suggestion that Michael Vick was being treated unfairly by the NFL.  I have stated many times that I was one of Vick's harshest critics when the Philadelphia Eagles made the decision to sign the polarizing quarterback after a stint in prison. In the beginning it seemed that Vick was being force fed his lines.  He delivered them well enough, but I doubted the sincerity behind the words.  Of course he was going to say he was wrong.  It was the only way for him to get and keep a job in the NFL, and make the millions of dollars he had become accustom to making.

I have watched Vick very closely for the past two seasons now.  He has conducted himself well on the field and off of it, despite the fact that I have meticulously looked for a slip. Over time, my skepticism has begun to melt away.  A certain guard is kept up because I don't want to invest and then be let down.  Vick has said he will continue to speak to children at schools at least two times a month for the rest of his life.  That commitment is not something that he had to say, but rather something he WANTS to do.  He will continue to try to educate people of the perils of the path he chose that almost ruined him. Because he wants to.

Back to football though.  Michael Vick has turned all of the criticisms he has endured over his career into a joke.  "Vick isn't a pocket passer." WRONG.  "The only thing he can do is run." WRONG.  "Vick will never be an effective quarterback in the passing game." WRONG. "Mike Vick's work ethic is not strong enough to make him an elite quarterback in the NFL." WRONG again. Vick has defied the odds and the critics and is among the favorites currently for MVP of the NFL.

With all of that being said, my biggest concern with Michael Vick these days is how physically he plays the game of football.  Michael Vick doesn't slide when he rushes the ball. And with a sometimes unstable offensive line, he also takes his share of abuse behind center.

"I don’t know how to slide, so I won’t get into that right now. I either get down, I go head first or dive or just fall. For some reason I always think I’m going to get hurt or something crazy’s going to happen.
It won’t happen. I did it before down in Atlanta. It didn’t work.” Vick said recently when asked about his not sliding.

The number of hits, late hits and blows to the head that Vick has endured are mounting though.  Vick has already missed two games with cracked cartilage in his rib cage.  During his career, because of how physically he plays the game, he has been susceptible to injury.  In 2003 he only started 4 games because of a broken fibula sustained in a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.  In fact, the only season in which Michael Vick started all 16 games was in 2006, the year before his legal woes began.

Andy Reid was asked today about the amount of hits and punishment that Michael Vick has endured this season in contrast to other top NFL Quarterbacks.  The feeling around the league is that Vick is not given the calls that a Tom Brady or Drew Brees might get, because of his mobility and propensity to run.

“He does run, but he’s still the quarterback and you can’t treat him like he’s a running back there. That’s not what the rules state.” said Reid, during his day after press conference today.

But Michael Vick is a quarterback.  Should his mobility and God given abilities be held against him? Should the National Football League be allowed to just pummel the man because he has the extraordinary ability to escape? Is it okay to let Vick take punishment that would most certainly draw flags if the name on the back of his jersey read something else? I don't think so.  And apparently Vick and Andy Reid don't think so either.

It was reported today that the Philadelphia Eagles have filed a formal complaint with National Football League because of the lack of protection that Michael Vick has received from the men in zebra stripes.  Andy Reid, like him or not, took a stand for his quarterback today.  It's another reason that Andy Reid has garnered as much respect around the NFL as he has.  When the chips are down, Reid will stand up and fiercely fight for his men.  The same way he expects his player to fight for each other on the field.  The NFL needs to listen.  With all of the protection afforded to quarterbacks and defenseless receivers, and the NFL's so called focus on safety, it is an egregious double standard for the NFL to stand by idly and watch a potential MVP get killed and not protect the man.

By the same token, Michael Vick must understand self preservation and learn to slide.  And not like Eli Manning either.  The Philadelphia Eagles have found a diamond in the rough, and the NFL must protect him.

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