Michael Vick

Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980 in Newport News, Virginia), is an American football quarterback for the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons. He is the older brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback/wide receiver/ specialist Marcus Vick and a cousin of Oakland Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks.

As a grade schooler, he showed promise in baseball and basketball. But by junior high his adolescent ways got the best of him, and he became a disciplinary problem for his teachers. His mother pushed him to get involved with an after-school activity. He chose football, and basically gave up all other sports in the ninth grade.

Michael Vick first came to prominence while at Ferguson High School in Newport News, VA. As a freshman he began opening eyes with his athletic ability and throwing for over 400 yards in a game that year. Later on as a junior, Vick and Coach Tommy Reamon both moved to Warwick High School,also in Newport News, in 1996 after Ferguson was shut down.

Michael Vick was somewhat overshadowed locally by quarterback Ronald Curry of Hampton High School in Hampton, Virginia, who would earn Gatorade National Football Player of the Year honors and make first team Parade All-American in basketball; in Curry's shadow, Vick never even made first-team all-district. Curry recevived a scholarship to the University of North Carolina, but suffered injury problems and eventually was drafted by the NFL's Oakland Raiders as a wide receiver.

After high school, Michael Vick attended Virginia Tech. He exploded onto the scene in his first collegiate game as a redshirt freshman in 1999 with three rushing TDs, in just over one quarter of play. His last touchdown was a spectacular flip in which he landed awkardly on his ankle, forcing him to miss the remainder of the game in addition to the following game. He led the Virginia Tech Hokies to an 11-0 season and to the 2000 Bowl Championship Series national title game in the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Florida State University. Although Virginia Tech lost, 46-29, Vick was able to bring the team back from a 21 point deficit to take a brief lead. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency, setting a record for a freshman (180.4), which was also good enough for the second-highest all-time mark to Shaun King's record from the 1998 season at Tulane. Vick was awarded an ESPY as the nation's top college player, the first-ever Archie Griffin Award as college football's most valuable player, and finished third in the balloting for the 1999 Heisman Trophy, matching the highest finish ever by a freshman in the voting.

It did have its share of highlights, such as his career rushing high of 210 yards against the Boston College Eagles in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. After finishing with a 11-1 record and a Toyota Gator Bowl MVP award in 2001, Mike decided to take his game to the NFL. Virginia Tech later retired his jersey.

In 2001, the Atlanta Falcons traded receiver Tim Dwight and several draft picks to the San Diego Chargers for their number one selection spot in the NFL draft. Eventually, San Diego selected Texas Christian running back LaDainian Tomlinson with their 5th overall selection acquired from Atlanta. The Falcons selected Michael Vick as the first overall pick, and he made his NFL debut against the San Francisco 49ers.

On January 4, 2003, the Vick-led Atlanta Falcons upset the favored Green Bay Packers 27-7 in the NFC playoffs, ending the Packers' undefeated streak at Lambeau Field.

However, during a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens the next year, Michael Vick fractured his right fibula and missed most of the regular season. Upon his return, the Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars, going 3-1 in the final four games of the 2003 season. In 2004, he led the Falcons to a record of 11-5, earning a first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs for only the third time in franchise history. The Falcons' 2004 season ended with a defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.

Many would argue that Michael Vick has revolutionized the quarterback position and has nearly single-handedly transformed the Falcons from a team with a spotty reputation to one of the rising franchises in the NFL. Vick's #7 jersey has become one of the best-selling pieces of NFL apparel. Vick has also become a focal point in the growing rivalry between the Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Vick currently resides in Duluth, GA.

Vick is noted for his unique, explosive playing style. Some commentators consider him the most exciting player in the game of football, and he has given himself the nickname "Superman". Gifted with tremendous speed and terrific arm strength, he can engineer big plays with both his arm and his legs. Notable is the fact that while he throws left-handed, he is otherwise right-handed. In the 2004 football season (including post season), he rushed for over 1000 yards. Vick's mobility has often caused major problems for opposing defenses, which have to defend against him differently than they would against a conventional-style quarterback. Whereas most quarterbacks are not a major threat to run the ball for a lot of yards, Vick is capable of breaking huge runs from anywhere on the field. Additionally, he has often been able to buy more time to throw by evading pass rushers with his spectacular agility and speed. Thus, opposing defenses must find ways to constrict Vick's running lanes in order to contain him. His speed always makes him a danger for opposing defenses, and the Falcons are one of the few teams in the NFL to have a large number of specifically-designed running plays for their quarterback. His speed and arm strength also pose a threat to cover 2 defenses, in which the safeties are needed for help on run plays but can be beat deep due to the great arm strength.

The most frequent criticism is that he has poor fundamental skills, followed by the suggestion that he puts himself at unnecessary risk of injury for a quarterback. Critics cite the leg fracture he suffered in the 2003 pre-season against the Ravens, and a knee injury he suffered early in the current season (which reoccurred a few weeks later), that has hampered his mobility throughout the year as prime evidence that Vick needs to learn to "pick his spots", citing the example of Steve Young, another mobile left-handed signal-caller who had a mediocre professional career before being placed in an offensive system that optimized his talents. Young eventually won a Super Bowl and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

In a November, 2005 press conference, Michael Vick scoffed at the notion that he was a weak "pocket" passer. But, ironically, Vick's knee problem forced him to become more of a pocket passer, and his quarterback rating has improved dramatically since his return. Conversely, as the Falcon's win percentage did not increase, many critics began imploring Vick to forget the criticism, and scramble outside the pocket, as that seems to be the 'X' factor that continually throws defenses around the league.

Critics have stated that while Michael Vick has a powerful arm, his passes are not nearly as accurate as other top quarterbacks in the league, such as Cincinnati's Carson Palmer or Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, both of whom have better quarterback ratings. Vick supporters argue that the quarterback rating formula, which does not take rushing yards into account, is not an accurate benchmark of Vick's contribution to the team. Other pundits also believe that the Falcons are relatively weak in quality wide receivers. To help remedy this, the Falcons acquired former Buffalo Bills wideout Peerless Price prior to the 2003 season in hopes that he could give Vick a legitimate "deep threat" target. But Price was a massive disappointment, catching just six touchdowns passes over the course of two seasons. He was released by the organization prior to the 2005 season. Arguably, Vick's favorite target is tight end Alge Crumpler, a very good receiver, but certainly no speedster. Vick's critics have countered that it's unfair to cast the blame on the receivers alone, though, since Vick remains the common denominator in the Falcons offense.

A few critics have been even harsher than simply singling out Vick's lack of accuracy, labeling him as an athlete who happens to play the quarterback position rather than a true quarterback. He has shown the potential to be an efficient passer, however -- in 2002 (his best passing season by QB rating) he amassed a rating of 81.6, which, when coupled with his outstanding running ability, made him a true terror on the field.

Vick's visibility has earned him some backlash as well: some fans have reacted negatively to the constant media hype that surrounds Vick, and feel that an over-exuberant American sports media anointed Michael Vick as the best player in football long before he deserved such an accolade. For instance, Vick's selection to the Pro Bowl for the 2005 season was a controversial pick, since Vick's season of 15 touchdown passes vs. 13 interceptions and a little over 2,400 passing yards would be considered (at best) an average performance for a quarterback (though he did amass over 500 yards rushing with 6 touchdowns). Following Vick's selection, sports columnist Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News called Vick "the most overrated player in the League."

However, regardless of the controversy that surrounds his playing style, Michael Vick continues to wow crowds with his explosive style of play, and (for the most part) the Falcons continue to win football games with Vick at the helm.

In 2003, EA Sports chose Michael Vick to be on the cover of their popular Madden NFL 2004 game — a game in which his cyber alter-ego was noted to be almost unstoppable. However, Vick's appearance would only end up fueling the so-called "Madden curse" surrounding players who have appeared on the cover of previous and later installments of the franchise, when he suffered the aforementioned broken leg.

Vick has been an icon in a Nike Commercial known as the "Michael Vick Experience". This Commercial shows children on an theme park ride were it simulates what it feels like to play as Michael Vick.

Vick also appeared in a Powerade television commercial featuring a handheld camera view of him during practice knocking receivers off their feet with his passes and then throwing a ball 100+ yards into the upper deck of the stadium. However, most of the commercial's effects were computer-generated; Vick's athleticism and arm strength were clearly exaggerated to the realm of near-improbability. "I'm the best," said Vick about his acting in commericals.

In March, 2005, a woman named Sonya Elliot filed a civil lawsuit against Vick claiming she contracted genital herpes from him and that Vick failed to inform her that he had the sexually-transmitted disease. Elliot further alleged that Vick had visited clinics under the alias "Ron Mexico" to get treatments, thus he knew of his condition. This led to a deluge of fans ordering customized #7 Atlanta Falcons jerseys on NFLShop.com with the name "Mexico" on the back. However, due to the media interest surrounding the case, the National Football League began disallowing the use of the jersey/name combination two days after the lawsuit.

On April 24th 2006, Vick's attorney revealed that the lawsuit was settled out of court with a undisclosed settlement.

In a related note, the video game developer Midway Games alluded to Michael Vick and his Ron Mexico alter-ego in their Blitz: The League title. Due to Midway's losing their NFL license (EA Sports now has exclusive NFL licensing), all teams and players in the game are fictitious. However, the "Washington Redhawks"' star quarterback is a mobile, left-handed passer named "Mike Mexico".Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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