Gonzo: Theismann praises Vick, but doubts his MVP credentials

Say it ain't so, Joe: QB Michael Vick had 302 yards passing and accounted for three touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-24 victory.
Say it ain't so, Joe: QB Michael Vick had 302 yards passing and accounted for three touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-24 victory.
Posted: December 03, 2010

Predictions are tricky business. Unless you're Nostradamus or a Vegas oddsmaker or an old man with an arthritic knee that can feel storms coming, forecasting the future should be avoided.

NFL Network color man and former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann isn't the shy type. Ask him a question, get an answer. In advance of the Eagles-Texans game on Thursday night, Theismann talked to Page 2 for a while. Michael Vick came up. You're shocked, I'm sure.

Theismann said Vick has had a remarkable year and should sign a new contract in Philly, but added he doesn't think Vick is the leading MVP candidate, partly because he's missed some games, partly because there are other worthy candidates (such as San Diego QB Philip Rivers).

After the interview, Vick went out and, once more, proved someone wrong. Theismann is in good company on that front.

At this point, if Vick isn't the MVP favorite, it has to be a surprise to the entire league. On their first possession, Vick took the Eagles the length of the field for a touchdown. The boos LeBron James heard during his re-introduction to Cleveland lingered longer than the Eagles on their opening drive. Then, in the fourth quarter, Vick took the Birds on a game-winning march. He finished with another silly statistical performance (302 passing yards, 48 rushing yards, three total touchdowns), and the Birds beat the Texans, 34-24.

Before you go crazy about Theismann, he spent most of the discussion praising Vick.

"What Michael has done, his work ethic has changed," Theismann said. "His study habits have changed. His football awareness has gotten better. He's doing all right, and he's playing quarterback better than he ever played it in Atlanta."

Anticipating the usual anti-out-of-town broadcaster backlash, I asked Theismann how he's treated when he's in town.

"They're Philadelphia fans," Theismann said, laughing. "They treat me like a Redskin. Let me put it this way: If they treated me any other way, I'd be disappointed in them."

A quick recap for those scoring at home: James Brown talked to Vick for 60 Minutes. Jon Gruden scored a sit-down for ESPN. Vick's old coach, Jim Mora, had a teary-eyed heart-to-heart with him on the NFL Network. Vick did a hit with Fox 5 in New York not long ago and another with WVEC in Virginia. He's also appeared on radio stations in Old Dominion and on Friday he's scheduled to appear on WIP-AM (610) with Howard Eskin and Ike Reese.

The never-ending feel-good chit-chat continued before Thursday night's game. Mouthy former cornerback turned mouthy talking head Deion Sanders spoke to Vick on behalf of the NFL Network. (The NFL Network better cut Vick a fat check for all this work. He's on with those guys more often than Rich Eisen.)

The most interesting part of the Sanders interview - aside from Sanders badly botching Vick's introduction: "from Levinsworth to the limelike" (that's a direct quote) - was about how Vick felt following the Virginia Beach birthday bash shooting. "If there are 24 hours in a day," Vick said, "I shed 10 hours worth of tears."

Charles Barkley also joined the NFL Network to discuss Vick. At this point, who hasn't joined the NFL Network to discuss Vick? Up next, the clerk at your local Wawa and the founder of someguy.com.

"Kobe Bryant had a bad rep a few years ago," Barkley said. "Ray Lewis had a bad rep a few years ago. They kept doing their thing and winning and the perception changed. It's just about winning and losing. That's all it's about."

When cornerbacks attack: Sanders called Asante Samuel the best "off corner" in the league recently. Samuel didn't like that and took to Twitter:

"@DeionSanders is the biggest hater in the world. He ain't no real FL boy he is a fake. FL boys keep it real. Men lie women lie numbers don't."

Sanders then responded on The T.Ocho Show (now with less oxygen to go around).

"Some kind of way [Samuel] got confused to thinking since I come from Florida, I'm supposed to get his back and say what he wants me to say," Sanders said. "No, I have a job to do and I take my job very seriously and my credentials are very serious."

Too bad you can't tackle people with words. It would've made both of them better players.

The MyPHL17 pregame show included Darwin Walker as an in-studio host. Who was the next choice, Jerome McDougle? ... Tweet of the game: "There is no way LeBron can stop Michael Vick tonight." -@jrfinger . . . During the NFL Network studio show, the broadcasters were asked to wish for something. Sterling Sharpe outdid everyone: "My wish is that we would look at Andy Reid just like we look at Bill Belichick. So my wish is for Andy Reid to get the credit à la that we give to Bill Belichick." The comment was beyond absurd for three obvious, shiny, ring-shaped reasons, but it was the "à la" that made Sharpe's unique brand of nonsense extra special. Well done, Sterling. That was impressive even by Sanders' standards.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gonzophilly

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