It’s the most amazing turnaround in sports history.  Last week, I compared him to Gordon Gekko,Michael Douglas’ greasy haired fictional film character because I honestly couldn’t think of a historical figure to compare. (Trust me, I tried.  Martha Stewart was the closest parallel. Seriously.) 18 months ago, #7 was servin out a bid as Bureau of Prisons ID# 33765-183.  Not only was he suspended indefinitely from the NFL but 33765-183 is seven characters too long for the back of any jersey that’s not Grady Jackson’s.

By going to prison, Vick lost out on a majority of the 10 year, $130 million contract he signed 2 years earlier.  Not since MC Hammer lost everything had a “running man” lost so much.

Two years ago, Michael Vick was finishing up his sentence in a halfway house, Tiger Woods was the most beloved figure in all of professional sports and Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia’s next Hall of Fame inductee came a defensive stop away from advancing to the Super Bowl.

Using the past year as a barometer, by this time in 2012, Tennessee Titans quarterback Peyton Manning and his new fiancé Kat Stacks will be on the cover of Ebony Magazine.  Mike Vick has always possessed one of the most complete packages in NFL history.  For whatever reason though, he is finally solved the rubix cube and matched the elusiveness of his legs with his cannon of an arm.  No running quarterback has ever had the arm strength to throw 50 yard completions off their back foot combined with sub 4.3 speed.

If the MVP vote were held today, the resulst would look something like this:

  1. Peyton Manning- on pace for 5,400 yards, 48 touchdowns and he threw a touchdown to a practice teamer last week
  2. Michael Vick- If Michael Vick does claim an MVP award, he should probably send a portion of his new contract extension(it’s coming) to Clay Matthews.
  3. Adrian Peterson-
  4. Clay Matthews- 6 sacks in 3 games and his Fabio blonde hair ranks alongside Chris Johnson and Troy Polamalu in the 2011 “Head and Shoulders” spokesman race.

I repeat, this is the single most remarkable turnaround in sports entertainment history. The only way for an athlete to salvage his reputation more quickly would be for O.J. to finally come through on his promise and discover Nicole’s “true killer” while in prison.  Vick took part in an enterprise that had him locked up in federal prison for two years.  Donte Stallworth’s vehicular manslaughter was more heinous but involuntary nonetheless.  In addition, Stallworth actually spent less time behind bars than George W. Bush: the college years.

Ali faced jail time and was stripped of his boxing titles and livelihood for not serving in the military on the basis of a conscientious objector but was already widely regarded as the undisputed heavyweight boxer in the world.  Michael Vick, for all his electrifying playmaking abilities was criticized incessantly for his flaws in the pocket.

During his tenure in Atlanta, he never passed for over 3,000 yards in a season.  The bar was actually set in his first season and only full season as a starter under Dan Reeves when he threw for 2,900 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.  In his final three seasons with the Falcons, Vick averaged fewer than 24 throws a game.  Under Reeves in 2002, Vick averaged 28 passes per game and hit his high mark in yards.  In two and a half games under center for the Eagles, Vick is averaging 30 attempts per game.

Most importantly his reinvention is an example for ex-cons who struggle to reintegrate into mainstream society and after their release.  You’re better off looking for work as an illegal immigrant than as an ex-con.  2009 was the first year a Tax credit for Philadelphia businesses hiring ex-cons went into effect.  The Eagles did not apply for it. No one did.  Some companies didn’t apply simply because they were unwilling to be publicly identified with ex-cons.

There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the National Football League at a single time.  This first quarter of a season is a reaffirmation of Mike Vick’s unique ability..  Thankfully, his raw ability was recognized to the extent, Andy Reid and the Eagles brushed aside his past transgressions and recognized he was the man to carry their franchise forth.  How many multi-million dollar corporations rest on the shoulders of a former felon?

Not only is a shining beacon for rehabilitated felons, but he is the magnus opus prototype for short quarterbacks.  At 6 feet tall, he should be too small to play the quarterback position in the NFL.  Randall Cunningham, the player he’s most compared to was a lanky 6’4 hybrid.  Fellow mobile lefty Steve Young and Vick’s Eagles predecessor Donovan McNabb are both 6’2.

If Vick’s transformation is permanent, the second half of his career could resemble that of Steve Young’s.  Like Sean Carter once said 30’s the new 20.  By Steve Young’s 30th birthday, he’d spent almost a decade serving a string of tours in the USFL, the lowly Buccaneers and as Joe Montana’s protégé on the 49ers sideline.  By his 30th birthday, Young had thrown for 51 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.  Vick had thrown for 71 touchdowns and 52 interceptions by age 26.

Now there’s talk of him being the first player on the practice field and the last player off.  He’s no longer simply relying on the (super)natural ability he still possesses.  The irony can’t be lost on the fact that he replaced the anti-Vick, in McNabb who did everything right for 11 years and is an uncertained he’ll be cheered in his return to Philly.  In his return to Atlanta last season, Vick was treated like embattled pastor Eddie Long giving a sermon at New Birth. (Strange city). Ultimately,Michael Vick has given whole new meaning to the phrase “free like a bird”