|Silly QBs, Vicks are for kids|
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist
Then there's Mike Vick."
-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 666 (stolen, then amended)
We don't. Mike Vick is here, and he's here to stay.
But slow down on Mike Vick. Might as well. You ain't gonna catch him anyway, pilgrim, you or your boys. Not for a while.
People are asking me does this mean the position changes, and now people will be looking for quarterbacks like Michael Vick?
Well, I remember when people were looking for running backs like Gale Sayers and Earl Campbell. It's not like Vick's the first cloned gazelle. It's like he's an M-7 tank with steel-belted thighs the size of adolescent redwoods. A jolting leg tackle by Kermit Alexander in 1966, massages from the Pittsburgh Steelers defense of the 1970s and Jack Tatum at the goal line eventually cooled all them jets.
Remember the Nigerian Nightmare of Kansas City, Christian Okoye? He was supposed to knock down the walls of your city for years and years. He's probably teaching gym at Asuza Pacific.
Even at the quarterback position, all the quarterbacks, the great ones, anyway, have been able to run. Not run 4.2, true, but they were able to run. Johnny Unitas, Mr. Bandy-Legged, could and would run, especially if he was downfield with a chance to throw a block in front of a ball carrier. He never ran so fast as he did then, to try and knock the pins out from under you, just for a change.
Young Roger Staubach couldn't run? Young Billy Kilmer couldn't run? Joe Namath or Snake Stabler at Alabama couldn't run? Archie Manning couldn't run? You must be crazy. Marlin Briscoe couldn't run? Eldridge Dickey couldn't run? ...
... (You probably don't know the last one; he was a black one, like Michael Vick, only this was 30-odd years ago; Hank Stram wanted him to try to run the offense of the '70s in K.C. for the then-Super Bowl champs, but Al Davis wasn't having any, and drafted Prayer, that's what we called him, Prayer, in the first round, and Snake Stabler in the second; Snake took one look at Prayer at training camp, and went home, and the Raiders had to go and get him from down in the Redneck Riviera; they called Dickey "The Lord's Prayer," in college, at Tennessee Sate, and when I see Michael Vick pass and run, I think of him, but that's another story ...)
... Joe Montana couldn't run? John Elway couldn't run? Steve Young couldn't run? Terry Bradshaw couldn't run? Randall Cunningham couldn't run? Donovan McNabb couldn't run? Brett Favre couldn't run? Steve McNair couldn't run? Yes, they all could run. The point is, none of them are running now, and if they are, they certainly aren't running as fast as Michael Vick.
No QB ran as fast as Michael Vick, that much I will say. I will also say that no anything in football ran as fast as Mike Vick.
So, before you lock up the women and children (just try locking up the women and children, once they've seen Michael Vick play; they'll fight you to get out and see) and start fearfully saying that "pocket passers" (read white quarterbacks) are an "endangered species," just don't overstate the case, or shoot that McPherson kid again. Endangered species are a more serious subject. Believe me.
The nature of the position is to be able to run the game from the pocket. The best team will form a pocket for a QB to do what is natural to the position, ballhandling, play-faking, throwing all the different kinds of balls, and, if great, putting pressure on the edge with an ability to run or pass, or, if necessary, escaping the rush. Often, pockets break down (ask Kurt Warner), if they form at all. That's when a quarterback must be able to run, improvise, to find a way out of Elway, because that is the nature of the game, itself. Football is a running game. Even passing involves running. Otay?
Mike Vick is not a new thing in football, not so much as he is, or seems to be, the most perfect distillation of its seed to date, the one who has the good fortune to play on carpet, to be as fast as young Bo Jackson, to be 4.2, with an arm like Robin's longbow, and to be as yet undamaged by injury or ravaged by time, and to have gotten the golden opportunity to play the position in the first place.
Remember this: Somewhere, up in Pittsburgh, when he is all alone, Major Harris is sadly shaking his head about all our little hoopla:
Herm Edwards, coach, New York Jets -- "Michael Vick? I'm still pulling Rich Gannon needles outta my arse. And we like how Chad Penny handles himself out there. Think we've found ourselves our own QB of the future. I stand by my Chad. But, I'd still give my left one for Vick. What are you laughing about? So would you."
Rich Gannon, QB, Oakland Raiders -- "I know I look unemotional on the field, like I don't care, like I'm a robot. I saw film of Johnny Unitas. That's the way he looked. And that's when he was excited. Plus, what does an old coot like me have to celebrate? Gray tufts of thinning hair? Pushing 40? Prostate the size of an orange? Night terror? New Age Mike Vicks crawling out of the woodwork? Looking into the Black Hole and realizing, yep, these are my fans? Sean Salisbury lobbying for me? Hoo, boy. I need a vacation."
David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "This sick Sicilian thing must ... end! (smack) ... why'd coach Capers slap me? Because I'm not Vick? Let Vick try 60 sacks on for size, I say ... hey, I'm happy for Mike Vick ... ecstatic ... grrr ... what I am feeling here? A year ago, I was eating baloney sandwiches in a box apartment in downtown Fresno. Now I'm rich. At least, they say I am. Mr. Bush's financial people are taking care of my money for me ... just let Vick be God's will his way, and I'll be God's will mine ..."
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts -- "In 1814, we took a little trip, along with Colonel Dungy down the mighty Mississip, we took a little bacon and quite a few pain pills and we fought the bloody Titans in the town of Nashville ... fired our guns and the Titans kep a'coming, wasn't nair as many as there was awhile ago, fired once more and they begin to runnin', down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico ... ain't it funny how you can very precisely remember song lyrics you hadn't heard in 20 years? Song comes on the radio -- or at least they did come on the radio, before I got to Indianapolis -- and there the lyrics are, memorized perfectly in your head, just like you learned them yesterday. The human mind is amazing. Kind of like Vick's glute. Sometimes I'm sorry I have one. A mind, I mean. I have no glute. I'm the Phil Mickelson of pro football. Or, am I becoming my dad all over again, like in 'Stars Wars'? I love it when they slow down Vader's theme, so it's like a dirge ... Dah-Dah-Dah, dah-DAH-dah, dah-dah-dah ..."
Andy Reid, coach, Philadelphia Eagles -- "Warner is killing them. Just killin' 'em. What, is Martz married to the guy or something?"
Mike Martz, coach, St. Louis Rams -- "Warner is killing us. Just killing us. I just hope nobody finds out about the annulment."
Julius Peppers, DL, Carolina Panthers -- "I used cold medication. For that, I'm suspended four games? What's that in my medicine cabinet? Uh, that's ... vitamins. That's ... Vicks! Yeah, that's what that is. That's Vicks VapoRub. Now make that illegal. Him too, while you're at. I chased the boy for four quarters. So I know."
Chris Hovan, DL, Minnesota Vikings -- "Geez, Vick did everything but say 'beep beep' and leave dust in the shape of a question mark. This is like a cartoon. I can't catch that guy with a gun. Somebody's gonna need an awful lot of ACME products ..."
Bob Whitfield, OL, Atlanta Falcons -- "Yeah, he's the MVP. Mike Vick Poof! I'm happier than that hog rolling around in mud and green slop over there ... say, that's not a hog ... is that a man in there, or something? ... say ... that's ... Coach Reeves, that you?"
Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers -- "Vick, Vick, Vick, Vick, Vick. What about me? Am I not attractive anymore? There's people around town who think I'm fine, you know. What do you mean, you used to think I was fine, too? What, you all need Viagra to watch me now? You all better appreciate me. What's Vick doing that two dozen QBs haven't done before? Hunh? Say, he didn't invent running. He's not so fine. He's got some flies on him. (A black cat hisses at Favre.) Shuddup, bitch. That goes for you, too."
Brian Billick, coach, Baltimore Ravens -- "If I had Michael Vick, I'd call a press conference and start talking and never stop. Well, yes, that's true, I do that anyway. But I ask you ... if you need a good talking to, who better than me? Lombardi? Let me tell you about Lombardi ... Lombardi never got jobbed the way we do ..."
Warren Sapp, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- "I'm not a cheap-shot artist. True, I wrecked Jerry Rice's knee. Didn't apologize to him either. I didn't hurt Chad Clifton. The ground did. Vick, as in trick, as in click, the sound his knee is gonna make when I break it."
Jake Delhomme, QB, New Orleans Saints -- "One is the loneliest number that I ever threw ... Vick this. Joe 'Trader' Horn, make my year. Hey, Chucky. Feel lucky, punk? Love me, Superdome fans! Grope me, bourboned-up groupies! Hand me my clipboard, Haz!"
Jeff Fisher, coach, Tennessee Titans -- "Mike Vick. Yeah, he's pretty good. But we already got one of them. We call him Country Strong. You call him Steve McNair. I thank him. My children thank him. And if these s---kickers down here had any brains, they'd thank him too. But they're too busy licking Peyton's ..."
Jason Sehorn, DB, New York Giants -- "Maybe I can get a sidekick deal going with Vick, like Steven Seagal hooks up with black guys to make himself marketable. As if. Jesus couldn't make that guy marketable. A fat, knocked-kneed martial artist. Ha! Makeup!"
Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."