Vick enjoying being the centre of attention

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick's soup is getting cold.

Normally on Wednesdays, media day for the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick can quietly sit in his cubicle and slurp his lunch, all the while watching gaggles of reporters swarm the starting quarterback of that week, whether it be Donovan McNabb last season or Kevin Kolb in 2010.

But this is no ordinary Wednesday.

On this Wednesday, it is Vick who is the object of all the cameras, the microphones, the notepads. That's because Michael Vick is expected to start his first NFL game in almost four years.

With a sea of bodies eight-deep surrounding him, Vick cradles his cup of broth and answers the questions patiently. At one point, he chuckles and says: "I'm going to have to warm up my soup."

Michael Vick doesn't mind. Not when he finally looks to be getting the opportunity to be an NFL starter again. It's a possibility that already has his gut churning. Hey, four years is a long time.

"You're always going to have butterflies when you start," said Vick humbly. "But after the first snap -- everything tends to go away."

If Vick does indeed get the call to lead the Eagles Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit against the Lions, it will be his first starting assignment in a whopping 1,357 days.

As he holds court here in the Eagles practice facility, Vick doesn't have to think hard to recall that game. It took place just across the street at Lincoln Financial Field back on Dec. 31, 2006, a day he completed 8-of-14 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 loss by his Atlanta Falcons to the Eagles.

Four months later, Vick's transformation from hero to zero began in earnest when he was implicated in an illegal interstate dog-fighting ring. In August 2007, he pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months behind bars, followed by two months in home confinement.

Once one of the most marketable faces in pro sports, he was stripped of his endorsements, his dignity and his ties with the Falcons, who cut him. By July 2008, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Eventually signed by the Eagles, he was reinstated early in the 2009 season, but looked rusty. Obviously chucking a pigskin around with convicted felons in the mucky recreation area of Kansas' famed Leavenworth Penitentiary is much different than performing in the 80,000-seat gridiron cathedrals of the NFL.

This past Sunday, things changed. When starter Kevin Kolb had his marbles scrambled in the first half of the Eagles' season-opening 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, this Michael Vick finally resembled the old Michael Vick, throwing for 175 yards and rushing for another 103.

"I am so happy for this kid and the progress that he's made since he's been incarcerated, both in life and on the football field," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "He's worked so stinkin' hard to get himself to this position."

While Reid hasn't named his starter, Kolb seems unlikely to be ready by Sunday. He has yet to receive clearance to sit in team meetings, let alone practise. All the while, Vick has taken every snap with the first team this week.

"I'm definitely going to have to set the tone out there," Vick said. "But I'm almost used to be in this position. It feels like the old days when I was preparing myself ...

"Ultimately I know I have to rally the guys and put them in a position where we feel like we can win. And you have to go into the game not hoping you can win, but knowing that you're GOING to win. That's how I'm going to put it to them."

For Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson, who grew up wearing Michael Vick-edition shoes in Pop Warner football, Vick is much more than just a co-worker.

"Sure, I was a fan," Jackson said. "He was the first black quarterback to get drafted first overall.

"When he came here, it was a pleasure to have him as a teammate."

No one should feel sorry about the journey Michael Vick has been on. He made his own bed by being involved in dog fighting; as a result, he had to sleep in it. That it happened to be a lumpy cot behind the bars of a cold jail cell was a fate of his own doing.

Having said that, Michael Vick now has the chance to re-invent himself. He wants so badly to be an NFL starting quarterback again. Come Sunday, he may very well have that opportunity.

And if that means putting up with a bit of cold soup in order to answer questions about it, well, it's a small price to pay.


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