Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Michael Vick

Highs: Has anyone engineered a more surprising comeback than Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, the onetime Atlanta Falcons phenom who spent 18 months in prison and became a public pariah for his role in operating a dog-fighting ring? After stepping in for Kevin Kolb, who suffered a concussion, Vick has led the Eagles to an 9-4 record: in a Monday night game against the division rival Washington Redskins, Vick became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards (he finished with 333), rush for over 50 yards (he had 80), throw four touchdown passes, and rush for two more touchdowns. Vick is the leading vote-getter for the 2011 Pro Bowl. For the most part, Vick has exceeded expectations off the field too: as part of his community service work, Vick often gives speeches to young people, and warns them not to waste their talents.

Lows: Vick did miss three games in October due to a rib injury, and he's not perfect: for example, he threw two interceptions in Philadelphia's 30-27 win over Dallas on December 12. This summer, one of Vick's co-defendants in the dogfighting trial was shot in the leg outside a restaurant where Vick was holding his 30th birthday party, sparking a bunch of potentially troubling questions: why was Vick, who swore he changed his pre-prison lifestyle, even having a party in a public place? Why was he in the company of a co-defendant? What role did he play in the shooting? Would NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has proven to be a strict disciplinarian, rescind Vick's NFL reinstatement? Investigations by the league and local authorities, however, determined that Vick played no role in the shooting.

Sean Gregory