Michael Vick’s Fatal Flaw

Rob Carr

Endearing or alienating, Michael Vick has a fatal flaw that will serve as his ultimate downfall.

I do not like Michael Vick as a quarterback. On the field, he’s not a good decision maker. He’s not an overly accurate passer. He takes too many unnecessary sacks. He’s turnover prone, injury prone. But I absolutely love Michael Vick as a football player. He throws the football with effortless power and grace. He runs with the quickness and speed of a leopard. But more importantly, he is a warrior. He is Captain Nathan Algren, and it will be his downfall.

Captain Nathan Algren is Tom Cruise’s character in The Last Samurai. There is a scene in the movie where Algren, after being taken captive by a troupe of samurai, learns how to fight using a wooden katana blade.

He is beaten brutally, only because he refused to quit. After getting knocked down, he stood back up. Knocked down again, muddied and bloodied, he stood back up, sword in hand. He was then beaten again, and again, until unconscious, gaining the respect of his captors in the process. For Algren, the pain was his penance, his punishment for war crimes he committed in America years before. This unrelenting attitude was his fatal flaw, and it is Michael Vick’s.

I doubt that Vick is purposely trying to punish himself on the field as some means to absolve himself for his crimes, but he has the same unrelenting, don’t quit, never-say-die, warrior-type approach. Look at this play early in the game against the Washington Redskins. Vick handed off to LeSean McCoy just inside the 20 yard line, and by design, runs to his left to draw the attention of ‘Skins defenders (which he does).

Vickblock1_medium

But for Vick, it’s not enough to draw defenders away from the play. He needs to better sacrifice himself. Here is Vick, just seconds later, outrunning McCoy(!) and laying a crunching block on a Redskins defender at the three yard line.

Vickblock2_medium

There are very few quarterbacks in the NFL that will exert that amount of effort, display that amount of courage, or have such complete and utter disregard for his own well-being, especially since his ribs resemble a game of Jenga. This fatal flaw is why Vick will never slide feet-first. It’s why he sometimes does not throw the ball away when being chased in the backfield. And it’s why he won’t finish the season healthy.

So we’re left with this crazy dichotomy: hate him as a quarterback/love him as a football player. To Chip Kelly’s credit, he has designed (or attempted to design) an offense that can best take advantage of Vick’s quarterback flaws. Problem: tipped balls at the line of scrimmage. Solution: coordinated cut-blocks. However, Vick is not the best at making those quick decisions, so the self-sacrificing warrior tucks the ball and runs. Then he gets knocked down, and then he stands up. Repeat.

This is behavior Philadelphians love and this is who Michael Vick is. He’s maddeningly exciting, frustratingly electric. But I don’t think he’s a quarterback; he’s a uniquely, supremely, and athletically gifted football player who happens to have "quarterback" next to his name in the program. When the game is over, he will limp towards the tunnel with aches and bruises and blood, confidently knowing that he left all he had on the field behind him. He never said "die". It’s why I love him. But he was sacked three times, hit another seven, and had a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage that was returned for a touchdown. And I hate him for it.

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