Ashley Fox: Vick and Schaub will be first-time foes on the field

During their days as Atlanta Falcons, then-starting quarterback Michael Vick (left) and backup Matt Schaub, shown here in 2005, said they learned a lot from each other.
During their days as Atlanta Falcons, then-starting quarterback Michael Vick (left) and backup Matt Schaub, shown here in 2005, said they learned a lot from each other.
Posted: December 02, 2010

Matt Schaub always lost, and for one week every year, it cost him his school pride, his dignity, and his dollars.

"I took a couple hundred from him," Michael Vick said on Tuesday. "Virginia Tech used to always put a whupping on Virginia."

Friendly wagers are the norm in NFL locker rooms, and that was the case while Schaub and Vick were teammates for three years in Atlanta. Vick was the sensation out of Virginia Tech, the player who almost single-handedly catapulted the Hokies to the national title game in 1999. Schaub was the steady, solid quarterback out of Virginia, the guy whom the Falcons picked in the third round of the 2004 draft to be Vick's backup.

Thursday night, they will be adversaries for the first time on the football field, when Schaub's Houston Texans take on Vick's Eagles. It is a matchup 10 years in the making, one both players are looking forward to because, while Vick took no mercy on Schaub when their alma maters played, they were close as teammates.

"We [were] cool like me and Kev," Vick said, referring to his tight relationship with Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. "We had a lot of fun down there together in Atlanta."

Schaub, who played at West Chester East High School, and Vick initially came together on a football field in 2000, when Vick was a sophomore at Virginia Tech and Schaub a freshman at Virginia. Vick led the Hokies, then the No. 6 team in the country, to a 42-21 beat-down of the Cavaliers, though Schaub was just a bystander on the Virginia sideline.

The next year, Atlanta used the first overall pick in the draft on Vick, and Schaub became the starter at Virginia. After two more losses to the Hokies, Virginia in 2003 toppled its in-state rival, 35-21, with Schaub, then a senior, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns.

The next spring, Schaub and Vick became teammates, and the friendly wagering began.

To hear Schaub tell it Tuesday, he learned a great deal from Vick about game preparation, how to study, and how to watch film. But in all likelihood he learned more what not to do. Vick, who has been up-front this season about how little he prepared in Atlanta, said he learned more from Schaub.

"Schaub was just a rookie, but he was a really smart guy," Vick said. "He knew a lot about the game, so he probably did more studying than I did, because I felt like I didn't need to."

"At the time, he was doing so many great things," Schaub said. "But I definitely thought that if he just spent an extra hour or two here throughout the week, or whatever, that it would be absolutely amazing what he could show on film and accomplish on the field."

Schaub was doing that, but because Vick was so dominant, he couldn't get on the field. After three seasons as Vick's understudy, Schaub got his chance to become a starter in 2007 after the Falcons traded him to Houston.

A month later, the Vick dogfighting story broke. He never played another down for the Falcons. Interestingly, that affected the future of another Philadelphia-area native, Penn Charter's Matt Ryan, whom the Falcons drafted in 2008 as their next franchise quarterback.

While Vick was sitting in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., Schaub started 22 games for the Texans. Last season, Schaub had his best year as a pro, starting all 16 games and throwing for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. He led the Texans to a 9-7 record, the franchise's first winning season since joining the NFL in 2002.

"I always told Schaub he was going to be a great quarterback in the league," Vick said. "I always told him he was going to be a starter. He had a great work ethic, just a good guy overall. He wanted to be the best, wanted to be great. I could always see that in him."

Schaub had bigger expectations for this season, especially after the team started 4-2. But coming out of their bye week, the Texans lost four straight, including three games by a touchdown or less, and are 5-6 after shutting out Tennessee on Sunday.

"It's been a roller-coaster year - up and down," Schaub said.

Still, Schaub looks forward to seeing Vick Thursday night. The two have not been in contact in years, mostly because, as Vick said, "Once I left and went to Kansas, I fell out of contact with everybody.

"But I knew I would see him again," Vick added. "I knew there would be a day when we had to go head-to-head. I'm looking forward to it."

Perhaps, in part, it's because the Hokies smoked Virginia last weekend, 37-7, to make it seven straight wins over the Cavaliers. Vick knows it. Schaub does, too.

It will be like old times in Flowery Branch, Ga.

"There was definitely talk going on about that game," Schaub said of his time with Vick in Atlanta. "There were some things going on, some clothing that had to be worn throughout the facility, and I think mostly it was me wearing it, because I think the last time we won was my senior year there in '03. I definitely lost out on that one."


Contact staff writer Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

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