Sam Donnellon: Vick's value keeps skyrocketing

Michael Vick celebrates touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy.
Michael Vick celebrates touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy.
Posted: November 16, 2010

LANDOVER, Md. - His back foot was on the 2-yard line when he let the ball go. Michael Vick heaved a ball that possibly only he can heave, and the next time it touched a pair of human hands, DeSean Jackson's hands, it had traveled 64 yards in the air.

Eighty-eight yards later, on the first play of last night's stunning, 59-28 victory over the Washington Redskins, Jackson was running backward into the end zone and the latest and greatest edition of ridiculous was under way. A touchdown, a 7-0 lead that quickly became 14-0 when Vick scrambled in on the next possession, and then 21-0 on the one after that and then . . . well, ridiculous.

"It's tougher than what it looks," Vick said. "It may look easy from the outside, but it's definitely hard."

It doesn't look easy. It looks impossible, what he's doing, at least at times. Vick ran for 80 yards last night. He passed for 333 yards. Any time a situation became in the least bit uneasy, there he was oozing through this guy in the backfield, juking that one in the flat. By the second half, they were comical encounters, Vick running from this side of the field to that side of the field, defenders looking like wedding guests doing the electric slide.

He was you playing Madden against your golden retriever, with a pile of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies clearly visible on the other side of the room.

So, how much do you think he's worth now? How much is Michael Vick worth today as compared to last spring, when the Eagles could not trade him and would not release him?

When many of us begged for one or the other?

How much is he worth compared to last summer, when Kevin Kolb was the heir apparent and Vick was still considered a dubious gimmick?

"I could never envision this," he said. "I didn't even think I'd be starting as quarterback. All this is . . . still somewhat surprising."

Never has an offense in midnight green looked this lethal, this hard to defend. Not even when Donovan McNabb was a younger, fleeter man and Terrell Owens was an Eagle. That was the Redskins' defense against whom Vick put up 45 first-half points, a defense that had allowed fewer points (170) than any team in the division, a defense that was the real reason that Washington launched a better-than-expected start this season.

Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie had no idea he was going to be like this, of course. Andy Reid had no idea either, and neither did you. It's clear from what he said last night that Vick may not have thought he could do this, either. Someone asked him if it was the best game he had ever played on any level, and after running through a list in his mind, he said, "I don't think I've ever played one like this on the pro level."

Why? His willingness to become a student, to take his second chance (and maybe a third) and work it into this unlikely and, yes, still uneasy story, is paying off in jaw-dropping dividends.

"Nobody likes to be looked at in a negative way," Vick was quoted saying in Saturday's edition of the Delaware County Daily Times. "When you're getting all of this praise and everything is positive, it's so gratifying because you know it's because of your hard work and it's because you're doing the right things. But when it's negative, you just want to crawl up under a rock."

It's a common theme in this second coming, and, frankly, one many of us eye warily. It's a naïve notion in 2010 to want your victors to be virtuous, yet it is clearly part of the emotion invested in any favorite team, in any campaign.

You wish that you didn't know as much as you do about his past. It tempers the fun. For much of his stay here, there has been this clock for some, waiting for the experiment to end and his stay to be over.

Now what? He's a keeper, that's what. Especially after yesterday, which began with the announcement of McNabb's 5-year, $78 million deal, $40 million of it guaranteed. If they're handing out that kind of dough to a slowed, soon-to-be-34-year-old quarterback who looked miserable last night, what's it going to cost to lock up this smarter, faster, fresher cyber version of the quarterback who once graced the video game box - before he was this good, this hard to believe?

The franchise tag is worth about $15 million to him right now. He'll probably collect more than that, get locked up for a bunch of years the way McNabb was yesterday.

"I'm not getting involved in that right now," he said. "I'll leave that to the people who deal with that when the time comes."

As for your uneasiness? My uneasiness? Well, ask yourself this: Imagine if someone had offered something for him last spring? Imagine if he was doing this somewhere else, and Kolb was learning his craft in midnight green?

Would you feel better right now?

Or a lot worse?

Send e-mail to donnels@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/donnellon.

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