I liked the long shot nature of his situation and no one has been more excited than I’ve been watching his rehabilitation and subsequent return to the ranks of NFL super stardom. The guy is just plain fun to watch and I think he is genuinely sorry for what he did.
Apparently everyone else agrees with me. Vick currently leads the fan vote for the Pro Bowl this year, and he leads it by a wide margin. He has almost 40,000 more votes than second-place Tom Brady who, despite sporting a haircut you might see on a yacht full of Ralph Lauren models, has proven himself to be the best player in the league this year.
That’s where the problem begins for me.
I loved Michael Vick because he was so universally loathed, but now I’m having second thoughts. It’s not that I don’t think Michael Vick is deserving of a Pro Bowl spot because he definitely is. He has been one of the top ten players in the league this season, but he hasn’t been number one.
For me, it’s not really just that he’s beating out Tom Brady, the best quarterback in the league. It’s that he’s beating out Matt Ryan, the best quarterback in the NFC and the guy who replaced Vick as the face of the franchise in Atlanta, by 460,000 votes. That’s right. He’s beating out the man who has been the most impressive player on the most impressive team in the NFC by almost half-a-million votes.
Matty Ice has played the best season of his career this year and he has established the Falcons as Super Bowl contenders. The easiest way to solve this debate would be to compare the two quarterbacks in their head-to-head match up but that unfortunately occurred while Vick was injured. In his stead, Kevin Kolb came in and played his best game of the season to carry the Eagles to victory.
Ryan has led the Falcons to an 11-2 record thus far and the season with wins over the Saints, Packers, Ravens and Bucs twice. Other than the loss to Philly the Falcons lost in overtime to a Roethlisberger-less Steelers team in the first weekend of the year.
It’s difficult to project how Vick would have fared had he played every game this season but he’s been very impressive in the contests he’s been featured in. Vick has owned the NFC East in games he started with a 3-0 record and his only real faltering was against a tough Bears team in Chicago.
However, if these two teams meet in the NFC championship game as every single NFL fan desires, then the Falcons will win.
It’s not just because it would most likely be a home game for the Falcons, it’s because Matt Ryan is the most composed quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady. He’s unflappable at the line and the way he’s been reading defenses makes me wonder if he didn’t fly down from Moron mountain with glowing football and steal Peyton Manning’s talent. Since the Falcons lost to the Eagles, they’ve been on a seven-game winning streak and they don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
As defenses are now starting to key in on Vick and reduce what he’s able to do on the ground while forcing him into bad throws and sacks, Matty Ice is embarrassing opponents with scary precision.
The national Vick obsession has reached a fever pitch and Matt Ryan seems to have fallen by the wayside, but that’s not a problem Ryan. Michael Vick can go ahead and start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Matt Ryan wouldn’t be there anyway. He’s going to be preparing for a much more important game the week after, working to bring something to Atlanta that Vick never could.
On a slightly related note, this was the ESPN Sports Nation poll yesterday. Ignoring the PETA strongholds in the Northeast, Oregon and Nebraska, I couldn’t help but think about a parallel poll for another NFL star who committed a heinous crime. I wonder what the map would look like if the poll said: When should O.J. Simpson be allowed to get remarried?