By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—It’s easy for an athlete to sulk and bemoan his situation when he loses his starting position. This is especially true when a guy has been a long-time starter. In some cases, that long-time starter is usually demanding to be traded elsewhere.
That can’t be said of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. After witnessing the rise of Nick Foles, the NFC’s offensive player of the month for November, Vick has been supportive of the guy he competed for the starting job with since minicamp. Foles said Vick has been helpful throughout his time on the field.
“Mike’s been tremendous throughout this whole thing,” Foles said. “The best thing about Mike is that he’s a great team player. He’s been nothing but helpful to me throughout this whole thing whether it’s me on the sidelines and telling me what he sees out there. It’s been great for me to look up to an older guy to see how he’s handled this whole situation.”
But that’s the approach Vick has taken all season. Remember this was the same guy who took a pay cut, signed a one-year contract, and competed for the starting job. At the same time, he was working with Foles and rookie Matt Barkley to help them to get better.
“Mike wants to contribute any way he can and that’s the type of guy he is,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s a great teammate, great leader. He’s been great for Nick over the games he’s been out in terms of helping him to develop. We’ve got a good situation. I think we have two quarterbacks that win games in the NFL.”
Wide receiver Jason Avant said Vick is still a leader in the Eagles locker room even though he is not the starter.
“He’s not focusing on himself, he’s been focusing on his teammates and putting God first,” Avant said. “That’s leadership to me more so than someone saying this or saying that. Leadership is about what you do in your daily life, but also in adverse times. What do you do? Does pressure break you or does it reveal that you’re a champion on the inside …(Vick) is a champion.”
Before he got hurt in the first Giants game, Vick wasn’t having a bad year. He led the team to the win over the Redskins in the season-opener. He passed for 203 yards and threw two touchdown passes. He also had 54 yards rushing with one touchdown.
In the Eagles 33-30 loss to the San Diego Chargers, Vick passed for a career-high 428 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown. But he struggled in the Kansas City game, throwing two interceptions including a pick-six.
Against the Denver Broncos, Vick was merely ordinary compared to an incredible performance Peyton Manning. Vick passed for 248 yards on 14-of-27 passing, but had a few drops along the way.
By the time he left the game with his injury, Vick had led the Eagles to a 16-7 lead before Foles replaced him. Vick said he’s not disappointed by the demotion to second string because of how well Foles has been playing.
“It’s all about support,” Vick said on Tuesday. “I’ve been playing in this league for a long time, and it’s great to see guys who I know can play and spend a lot of time with go out there and have success, and I enjoy watching it. I enjoy watching my team go out there and do the things that Coach Kelly asks them to do and see it turn over and correlate into wins. It goes to show that what we’re doing is working and we’re all on the same page, and it’s exciting to see.”
I can’t say that I know how Vick will be remembered in this game as a player because I think his book still has a few chapters left. On one level, I wouldn’t be too worried about whether or not he’s put up all the requisite numbers to get a bust in Canton. But if there was a Hall-of-Fame for growth as a human being, Vick would definitely be on the first ballot.
The way he has handled being relegated to the backup role is proof positive of that. Since coming up from the depths from his imprisonment, Vick has proven that being a man and handling adversity without wincing or crying out loud is far more important than his passing statistics.