The Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. That’s a fact. They have played in two Super Bowls, losing 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders on Jan. 25, 1981, and 24-21 to the New England Patriots on Feb. 6, 2005.
Winning the Super Bowl is the goal of every team in the NFL. Why else would you play the game? With the Eagles, it seems, it has become an obsession to those who run the team – owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the other team in town – the Phillies – have had major success in recent years (about to clinch their 5th straight NL East championship and owners of the 2008 World Series title).
Philadelphia has become “a baseball town” again. So, it would make sense that their South Philly neighbors have become a little jealous.
Under coach Andy Reid, the Birds have played in five NFC Championship games. They won one, 27-10 over the Atlanta Falcons. They won because they shut down the NFL’s new superstar quarterback, Michael Vick, in that game. Even though wide receiver Terrell Owens came back from a broken ankle suffered in a December game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles, under quarterback Donovan McNabb, came up short against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Michael Vick is now the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. He will be for the next six years if he plays out the reported $100 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) he was awarded this week. Vick signed a similar contract with the Falcons but threw it all away when he was sent to prison for 18 months on felony dogfighting charges.
Everyone loves a story of redemption. Vick’s story is one that is not yet complete despite the new contract and his amazing success with the Eagles. Last season he knocked Kevin Kolb out of the promised QB slot with outstanding play in the team’s first six games. Vick and Reid held a joint press conference on Tuesday, August 30, to officially announce the new contract. With the start of the season just over a week away, the Eagles wanted the NFL world to know that Vick was the guy they saw leading them to a Super Bowl title.
Watching the press conference on television, one had to be impressed with the confidence that Vick displayed. He came across as sincere, acknowledging his past sins, thanking those who nurtured his journey and promising that he would do all in his power to bring Philadelphia that elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“Listen, this is a great story all the way through, and this is really what America is all about,” Reid said. “Second chance, you know, and Mike took full advantage of that. Then when he was given a second chance at having an opportunity to start in the National Football League, he took again an opportunity there and turned it into this. I would tell you at that time, when he got himself back physically ready to play; I think everybody on the football field and in the stadium knew that he was back. I don’t think it was too hard to see.”
Reid said that Vick is “very gifted as an athlete and as a person.” He pointed out that hard work and the right attitude lead to great things.
Vick, 31, learned the hard way that those virtues are of utmost value on and off the field. He said, if given that second chance, he would straighten out his life, and again play professional football.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You just live in the moment and take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. You know what type of talent you have, you know what you can do, you’ve just got to be patient, and that’s something that I learned over the years unfortunately when I was away, but everything in life happens for a reason. That taught me patience, and I think that’s part of the reason why I’m here today, being patient.”
A changed man. But there will always be doubters.
Vick realizes that with the big contract comes big responsibility, and big demands. Like a Super Bowl title.
“Absolutely, I mean, you play this game to better your craft, to better yourself as a football player,” he said in reference to a question that to validate the contract he has to win a Super Bowl. “Like I said, that one common goal is to win the Super Bowl, and that’s why we play. As a competitor, I don’t feel like my career would be complete without that. That’s the reason I’ve worked so hard. I have to give a lot of credit to Andy because everyday he’s coached me up. There’s always something new. I know I’ll never get to a point where I know it all, but he can certainly help me get there 90 percent of the way. That’s why I’m appreciative of where I’m at, sitting right here before you, and having the chance to be with this team for another six years.”
Michael Vick is back on top of the world. It doesn’t happen to most people who have fallen as far as he has. Vick has teammates who support him, along with an understanding coach who has undergone his own travails with his family. He has leadership abilities along with outstanding physical abilities.
Yes, he is blessed. He has come a long way. But there is still a long way to go.