Vick takes Philly by storm

Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Michael Vick runs the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars....

Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Michael Vick runs the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (REUTERS/Daron Dean)

MIKE RUTSEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA — Make no mistake, Sunday will be Michael Vick’s coming-out party in Philadelphia just as much as it will be Donovan McNabb’s homecoming.

Vick is one victory away from a coronation of sorts having beaten back all the odds.

Even though he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles through all of 2009 and has been their No. 1 quarterback just the past 10 quarters, he has taken this city by storm.

Last season, Vick, freshly out of prison orange, was No. 3 on the Eagles depth chart, a far way back of Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

On Easter weekend, Vick moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart after the stunning trade of McNabb to Washington.

Vick’s second-rate status was short-lived, though, as Kolb suffered a concussion in the season opener against Green Bay and was replaced by Vick in a 27-20 loss.

The next week with Kolb still unable to perform, Vick started for the first time since 2006 and led his team to a 35-32 victory over the Lions in Detroit.

Then last week, coach Andy Reid said Kolb would return to the helm one day and the next, reversed course and said Vick was his man. Vick responded by leading his team to a convincing 28-3 victory over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Which brings us to Sunday, which will be Vick’s first start at quarterback in an Eagles uniform in front of the hometown fans.

His starts in Detroit and Jacksonville — two teams that are among the dregs of the league — were like a pre-Broadway run for a big ticket theatre production.

With some of the kinks worked out on the road, Vick is set to make a big splash and slay the McNabb dragon, a move that has been haunting the Philly fan base since Reid made the daring move.

That Vick came on to grab the spotlight and shine so brilliantly the past 10 quarters — he has completed 60.7% of his passes for 750 yards, has thrown six TD passes without an interception and has a 110.2 QB rating — is for Reid like a prospector panning for gold and finding diamonds.

If Reid is surprised by Vick's performance, he isn’t saying.

But he is delighted.

“You hope that he would be able to get back to this level and be even better,” Reid said when asked if he was surprised at Vick’s play. “But that was an unknown and the pre-season was a little bit up and down.

“So, I think we were all hoping that he can get there, but did we know that was going to be a reality? No. I don’t think anybody knew that.

“But I’m proud of him for what he’s done and how hard he has worked to get to that point and there’s a lot of season ahead. So, he has to continue, which he knows, he has to continue to work. He has plenty of room to get better and he knows that. And that’s what he has to focus on.”

Since taking over, Vick has made all the right moves on the field and said all the right things off it. Earlier in the week he was at a local school talking in part about the wrong path he took that led to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring and prison.

This Sunday, thanks to McNabb’s return, the wattage in the spotlight will shine that much brighter. He was asked Thursday what he wants the fans to see of Vick the person.

“I want people to just see that hey man, I’m trying to do the right thing now,” Vick replied.

“Nobody’s going to be perfect, live your life perfect, people are going to make mistakes. You just have to bounce back from it, be resilient in life and I think that’s a great message for kids in this world: ‘Understand there’s going to be adversity, there’s going to be good times and bad times and it’s all in how you persevere.”

Will Vick be glad when Sunday has come and gone, that it’s not McNabb and the Redskins and the season can grind along?

“It’s going to be another tough game for me regardless of who is playing,” he said trying to deflect the McNabb-Vick hype. “This is one game — but it’s a big one for us.”

In his NFL career, there have been none bigger.

A victory and the city is his.

Who thought it would ever come to this?


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