From the NY Times:
Even Michael Vick did not see this happening. Vick, the Eagles’ starting quarterback, is one of the N.F.L.’s most electrifying talents and possibly its most valuable player in 2010. The fact that he is a convicted felon just more than a year out of prison simply makes him this season’s most complicated story.
“It’s as surprising to me as it is to everybody else,” Vick said of his jumpsuit-to-riches turnaround in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “But at the end of the day, I knew I had the talent and what it took to win football games. I just needed an opportunity.”
Vick, convicted in 2007 of operating a dogfighting ring, is the latest in a growing line of athletes who found themselves tangled in scandal and used the redemptive power of their athletic ability to scramble away from the sordidness. Few, if any, have done so with such unexpected aplomb.
With his attention-grabbing play, Vick has redirected the conversation away from what he did off the field to what he is doing on it.
“On-field performance is always going to trump off-field situations,” said John Lord, a professor and chair of the marketing department at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “If Tiger Woods had come back and won one or two majors, maybe eight tournaments this year, and reasserted himself as the world’s best player, much of the negative experience would have dissipated, much as it has with Vick.”
The most stirring example came on Monday night, when Vick had one of the more memorably dynamic individual performances in the sport. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns, including one for 88 yards to DeSean Jackson on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Vick ran eight times for 80 more yards and 2 more touchdowns. The Eagles won, 59-28. They had a 35-0 lead just nine seconds into the second quarter.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame requested Vick’s jersey from the game.
The N.F.L. named him the conference offensive player of the week for the second week in a row. Chatter about his being the league’s most valuable player has reached a hum, as has speculation that Vick and the Eagles look like potential Super Bowl winners.
There will always be a strong-minded faction of people unwilling to forgive Vick and unable to muster a cheer for him. And there have long been some who never saw Vick’s actions as wrong — or wrong enough to deserve a prison sentence.
Since joining the Eagles, Vick has followed the well-worn path of public contrition. He has called his conviction the best thing to happen to him. On Wednesday he said that he speaks at schools and does work with the Humane Society of the United States, “just so I can help save lives and prevent people from going through difficult times and troubles that can be prevented.”
He admitted that his performance on the field was a big part of his reputational rehabilitation, too.
“Yeah, I think it is,” he said. “This league is about going out and showing improvement, and, you know, basically being a man of your word, and not just talking but doing. That’s what I try to do since I’ve been here, you know, just try to improve each and every time I’ve got an opportunity.”