Eagles' Vick grateful to Reid

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFFPHOTOGRAPHER Andy Reid and Michael Vick before Vick'sremarkable 2010 season.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFFPHOTOGRAPHER Andy Reid and Michael Vick before Vick'sremarkable 2010 season.
Posted: September 19, 2013

FOR MOST of his football career - high school, college and the NFL - Michael Vick has had a teacher-mischievous pupil relationship with his coaches.

Picture Eddie Haskell with a rifle arm and sub-4.4 speed. And if you've never heard of Eddie Haskell, kids, Google him.

Until he signed with the Eagles 4 years ago, Vick was content to get by on his extraordinary athletic skills and cut corners on all of the other stuff.

During his six seasons with the Falcons, he routinely was the last to arrive at their practice facility and the first to leave.

A couple of years back, Jim Mora, who coached Vick for three seasons in Atlanta, interviewed the Eagles quarterback for NFL Network. He asked his former pupil what he did with the countless game tapes he used to give him to take home and study.

"Threw 'em in the back seat, coach," Vick said. "Threw 'em in the back seat."

All of that changed 4 years ago when Andy Reid went out on a very long limb for Vick and offered him a second chance at football and life after his release from federal prison, where he had spent 21 months for operating a dogfighting ring.

You may recall that the Eagles' decision to sign Vick wasn't a popular move. The guy was toxic at the time.

But Reid, whose two eldest sons had lost their way a couple of years earlier, felt the guy deserved a second chance. What he did with it, well, that would be up to him. But he deserved a second chance.

"I loved him," Reid said yesterday during a conference call with the Philadelphia media 2 days before his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, plays his old team at the Linc.

"I thought he was a great kid. I was so happy to see the way he grew. More even as a person. But also as a football player.

"He was so open to everything you could teach him. And he's doing the same thing with Chip [Kelly]. He's absorbing everything and doing a heck of a job."

Vick started 35 games in three seasons for the Eagles under Reid. Made the Pro Bowl in 2010 when he threw 21 touchdown passes and just six interceptions and had a career-high 100.2 passer rating.

Fell to earth in 2011-12, turning the ball over way too much and having one of the league's lowest touchdown percentages and highest interception percentages.

But at 33, he's off to a 2010-like start again this season in Kelly's uptempo offense. He's third in the league in passing (119.0) behind only the Broncos' Peyton Manning (131.0) and the Packers' Aaron Rodgers (127.2). Threw for a career-high 428 yards against the Chargers on Sunday and hasn't thrown an interception in 61 pass attempts.

More important, thanks to the opportunity Reid gave him, Vick has turned his life around off the field. He has become what commissioner Roger Goodell had hoped he'd become when he green-lighted his return to the league in August 2009 after he had served his time.

A success story.

Tomorrow night, Vick and the Father Flanagan coach who gave him his second chance 4 years ago will meet in person for the first time since Reid's New Year's Eve firing.

There will be handshakes and hugs and warm words. The coach will wish the former pupil well. The former pupil will once again thank the coach for taking a chance on him and teaching him how to be both a better quarterback and person.

"Coach has had a big influence on my life as far as my way of thinking," Vick said yesterday. "There were plenty of times where I would go up to coach's office and talk to him about things I wasn't comfortable talking to anybody else about.

"I didn't know our relationship was going to progress into that when I came here, but it did. I was very thankful for that. Because I spent a lot of time in his office and we became close. I appreciated that. It helped turn me into the person and player I am today."

Given the one-sided relationships Vick had with the previous coaches in his life, who ever would have figured that a redheaded Mormon from the left coast would one day become a father figure to the young man from Newport News, Va.?

"I never tried as hard to have a relationship like that with a coach," Vick said. "Going through that experience with coach has made it easier to develop a relationship with Chip.

"The things I've learned in talking with Andy and how to approach practice and how to approach him, that's the same way I've been able to strengthen my relationship with Chip.

"It's great. It's amazing the things you learn in life. Regardless of when it happens, as long as it happens, I think you'll be in good shape."

Vick said he and Reid text each other regularly. "We stay in communication," he said. "That's part of our friendship."

Under the tutelage of Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Vick became a much more willing pupil than he had been during his Eddie Haskell days in Atlanta.

No more last to arrive and first to leave. No more throwing game tapes in the back seat. No more being late for meetings.

Other coaches had tried to teach Vick how to play the quarterback position, but he wasn't interested in listening.

He listened to Reid.

"Mike definitely gives coach Reid a lot of credit for taking a chance on him," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "He's eternally grateful, especially coming out of the circumstances that he was in. Turning it around wouldn't have been possible without coach Reid.

"Even just learning the position. Without Marty and coach Reid, Mike wouldn't have been this far advanced as a quarterback as far as decision-making and route-recognition and coverages and all those types of things. They basically taught him all that here."

Reid taught Vick how to be a quarterback, and he taught him how to be a man and Mike will be forever grateful.

"I'll never forget the opportunities that have been given to me by this organization, by Andy Reid," he said. "That'll never change.

"Andy Reid is a guy who will go down in my book as one of the greatest coaches of all time.

"And one of the greatest men I've ever met."


Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian.com

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