Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Vick is a new breed

Every so often an athlete comes along who doesn’t just raise the proverbial bar. He leaps up, grabs that bar and continues skyward with it securely in his grasp, with no intentions of ever returning it to its original height.

Houston, we have liftoff, and it’s Mike Vick, elevating towards the unknown.

Watch Vick glide through the Minnesota defense for a 46-yard touchdown, the game-winner in OT, and understand something: this man is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.


He drops back, plants and explodes forward, screaming past would-be and never-would-have-been tacklers before shifting seamlessly to the right, leaving only colliding Viking defenders in his substantial wake.

Vick doesn’t even pay the price for his TD, the obligatory post-score knockdown. Even as he trots at half-speed into the end zone, incensed and embarrassed Viking D-backs can only fan at Vick as he backpedals, hurls the ball and sprints into the locker room to celebrate the Falcons’ eighth victory.

Vick’s speed is so unfathomable, he doesn’t register on conventional measurement systems. On NFL Primetime Chris Berman asked, “What is he doing, Mach three?”

Even that venerable unit of measurement doesn’t seem adequate; the Falcons’ QB warrants an entirely new system for rating quicks: Vickspeed.

Of course, it’ll take another Chuck Yeager, and probably his jet, too, to even approach Vick One. As his startling performance over the weekend proved, Vick is at cruising altitude while the rest of the league is still taxiing to the runway.

How one man was blessed with such remarkable physical tools is incomprehensible. Smart money says that even a genetically engineered QB, bestowed with Elway’s arm strength, Young’s legs and Montana’s big-play ability, wouldn’t amount to half a Vick.

That’s because Vick is the greatest athlete on the planet, hands down. A true freak. A wonderful genetic mishap, an astounding athletic aberration, some sort of supercharged prototype that wasn’t intended for this earth but somehow snuck down from the heavens unnoticed and picked up a football.

Some factual basis: Vick rushed for 173 yards Sunday, the highest total by a QB in modern NFL history. The great Marcus Allen’s career-high: 173.

Vick has piled up some 648 rushing yards on 80 attempts this season. Bobby Douglas totaled 968 for Chicago in 1972, and Randall Cunningham had 942 in 1990. With only 27 more yards, Vick will pass Steve McNair’s 1997 season for fourth all-time.

If he averages 80 yards in each of the Falcons’ final four games, which seems more likely with Atlanta needing big plays from his Vickness to ensure a playoff berth, he’ll top Douglas. There’s no question that Vick will be the first QB to top 1,000 rushing yards in a year, if not in this season then in one very soon.

But Vick isn’t some souped-up Kordell, a sprinter lacking the appendage that still does, and always will, define the quarterback: the arm.

Vick’s is magical. His chiseled left arm seems welded on to his shoulder, which itself is muscular but not hulking. Both are infused with astounding strength. 80 yards is nothing for this guy. They said that Powerade spot with Vick hurling the ball 200 or whatever yards in the air was altered with computer graphics. I don’t buy it.

And, oh, that release. Vick doesn’t hurl the ball, doesn’t wing it; he flicks it. Watch Vick just snap that wrist and deliver a perfect strike on the run, traveling over 50 yards in the air, to Brian Finneran for the Falcons’ second TD Sunday.

Beautiful, and just effortless. That’s how everything is with Vick. The legend goes that when he stepped onto the Va. Tech campus on his recruiting visit, they took him into the basketball arena. Vick, who just happened to be toting a football, fired one from the baseline to the far bucket.


Understandably, no one could believe it. “Lucky shot,” they told him. “Do it again.”

So he did. Double swish.

Now he’s moved on from sinking shots to sinking ships. Vick’s undeniable talent wouldn’t let him stay in college past his sophomore year, but with less than two full years of game action under his belt, the thinking went he would take some time to develop as an NFL passer.

Think again. The Falcons started out slow this year, losing their first two and then losing Vick after the third week to a shoulder injury. They lost another with Doug Johnson under center, but once Vick came back, all bets were off.

Vick’s physical superiority was always clearly evident, but there’s more to football than highlight reels; the questions were about his ability to manage, and win, football games. Those questions just aren’t asked anymore.

On a team with no-name wideouts and an underachieving Warrick Dunn ? whom Vick has out-rushed this season ? Vick has led Atlanta to six wins in seven tries, with a tie thrown in there, courtesy of Vick’s 11-yard TD run with under a minute remaining in regulation.

MVP talks are in the air, and rightfully so. Fourth quarter comebacks are becoming the norm. It’s impossible to count the Falcons out of any game, with Vick able to summon 50-yard scores at will, either on the ground or through the air. Defenses have to be altered to contend with Vick’s tools.

“It’s amazing,” Vick said after the Falcons topped the Panthers 30-0 in week seven, a game that included a 44-yard Vick TD run. “I just get up after some plays and say, ‘Oh, man, I can’t wait to see that one on film.'”

Then again, maybe he is just like the rest of us.

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