Concern Over Vick’s Reckless Style Overshadows His True Toughness

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Michael Vick's hard-charging style has often landed him on the injury list. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Michael Vick’s hard-charging style has often landed him on the injury list. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADLEPHIA—No coach, owner or fan wants to see their franchise quarterback out with an injury for any amount of time.

Nor do they want their quarterbacks in situations where they could get hurt-whether it’s behind the pocket or when they’re out on the run. Most coaches cringe when they see their quarterback blocking or tackling somebody after an interception.

In an NFL where quarterbacks are seen as over-protected divas, you have the curious case of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, whose reckless style has often landed him on the injured reserve list to the point where he hasn’t a full 16-game season since 2006.

Last month, the 33-year-old Vick said he would not change his style, which includes not sliding to avoid hard hits when he gets out of the pocket to run.

That prompted NFL Network analyst and former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin to ask the question, “how stupid can you be?” People like former NFL general manager Charley Casserly have said Vick won’t last the season. Considering Vick’s history with injuries, it is a legitimate concern.

“I think you can get hurt at any point of the game,” Vick said after practice on Wednesday. “Some guys have their worst injuries just staying in the pocket—torn ACLs and things like that. Injuries are what happens in this game. There’s no way to prevent it. Every player is at risk on every play.”

As much as I would like to see Vick protect himself by sliding when he runs and throwing the ball away if it’s not there to avoid hard hits in the pocket, I have to admit that I admire his heart and his tough-guy approach to the game.

In Monday night’s game against the Washington Redskins, Vick threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. He had 54 yards on nine carries including a 36-yard run in which he didn’t slide.

In the second quarter of the game, Vick threw a good block on a Redskins defender during a run by LeSean McCoy. While fans and more than a few of us in the media cringed at the site of him throwing his body into a bigger defender, Vick’s teammates admired his toughness.

“We might tell him afterwards, you don’t need to do that you could easily hurt yourself there, but that just shows what kind of a guy Mike is and he’s all in,” said Eagles right guard Todd Herremans. “He’s going to do everything he can even hurl his body into a defender if he thinks it’s going to get us some positive yardage.”

Over the years of watching football, I’ve seen guys like Brett Favre block for receivers even after he’s thrown the ball to him. When he was playing with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2009 against the San Francisco 49ers, he threw a pass down field, followed the play and threw a block on a defensive back.

In my own personal football film collection, I have footage of legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas throwing a block against Hall of Fame middle linebacker Sam Huff, one of the fiercest hitters of his era.

Whenever I see quarterbacks do those kind of things, the first thing I will hear announcer and analysts say is what a tough guy, what a complete player that quarterback and what a competitor is and so on.

“People love to see it because they’re seeing the quarterback trying to work hard, trying to spur his team to victory,” said Eagles rookie quarterback and former University of Southern California star Matt Barkley.  “We understand that Mike’s a gamer. He’s going to give it his all. It’s cool to see that out of your quarterback.”

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said as much as he can respect Vick’s willingness to go all out for his teammates, he would not prefer to see his quarterback block under any circumstance.

“I told Mike don’t do that again, let me do it,” Peters said. “We don’t need him out there blocking. If it’s a key block and it triggers a touchdown, hooray! But we don’t him out there blocking, we need him all 16 games.”

I agree with Peters, but at the same time I don’t want my quarterback playing with the fear of getting hurt because inevitably you will get injured.

As much as I don’t want to see Vick get hurt, I don’t want to see him lose that intensity and passion because that will more often than naught help his team win games than lose them.