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Monday, September 20, 2021

Michael Vick takes advantage of second chance

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You don’t have to be a football fan to understand how great Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick performed during Monday Night Football this week.

As a matter of fact, I’m not a football fan, but since everyone I talked on the phone with that evening was watching the game, I had to tune in to see what all the hoopla was about.

Let’s just say, I was enlightened.

As I stared blankly at the screen, having only the slightest clue what words like “interception” and “rushing touch down” actually meant, I did read at the bottom of the screen the numbers that Vick was bringing in. I also listened intently to the commentators during and after the game as they made remarks like “(This is) one of the more memorable individual shows by a quarterback” and “Greatest single-game performance in Philadelphia Eagles quarterback history.”

And then of course there were the facts and statistics: Vick is now only the third player in NFL history with 300 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. The Eagles racked up a historic 592 total yards, and Vick’s 88-yard touchdown pass on the first play was the longest touchdown pass during the opening minute in the past 41 years.

So, even if you aren’t a die-hard football fan, the numbers said it all: last Monday night, Vick was the man.

As I thought of all the accomplishments Vick achieved within one game, I couldn’t help but be reminded that not so long ago, his life was drastically different. Rather than have thousands of people cheering for him on the football field, Vick was in the midst of one of the most challenging times in his life as he was jailed for felony dog fighting charges.

It was during that period when all the cheering was replaced with taunts of dismay. The star appeal was gone and Vick was probably the most hated athlete of all time (OK, maybe the second most hated athlete … OJ Simpson will probably remain in the top spot for quite awhile). Nonetheless, Vick was the odd man out: his money and freedom were gone, people he thought were his friends turned their backs on him, and he was suspended from the NFL.

Three years ago was a very difficult time for Vick, which made Monday night’s game that much sweeter.

Talk about redemption! Steven Spielberg couldn’t write a more compelling script: inner-city kid rises from the ’hood to become one of the greatest football players in NFL history, but … he loses it all because of a bad decision he made. After serving time and taking ownership of his wrongdoings, that football player works to regain his credibility in the industry and he slowly reenters the world that was once his haven. To show his immense skill as well as a sign of appreciation for the team who gave him a shot when no one else would, the football player many considered a has-been goes on to play the best game of his career, breaking records and proving naysayers wrong.

The only thing that would make this story even more compelling is if Monday’s game was actually a Super Bowl win (make no mistake, I’m not hoping the Eagles win the big game … even though I’m not a sports-kind-of-girl, the Colts are still my team).

The purpose of me writing this editorial is not to give you minute-by-minute plays or to even place Michael Vick on some sort of pedestal. The point of me writing this piece is to say that we all make mistakes and we all deserve second chances. There’s nothing like a great comeback and we are all worthy of a chance to become better, stronger and more focused than before.

It’s often so easy for us to look at someone else’s wrongdoing and judge them based on that, but we rather conveniently forget our own mistakes and transgressions. None of us is exempt from that; I’ve been guilty of it and I’m sure you have, too. The key, however, is for each of us to remember that no one is perfect. Learning from our past mistakes is an invaluable lesson.

I sincerely believe that Vick is a changed man and I’m glad he’s getting his second chance with the NFL.

After Monday night’s game, one reporter asked Vick how he feels playing football now, after all the controversy and challenging times.

He replied, “It’s great. I’ve been going through so much over the last three years; just getting the opportunity is great. I told myself I’d never take advantage of this again.”

Opportunity. It’s something we all ought to have … even those of us who fall short at times, we just can’t take our second chance for granted.

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