Posted: Monday October 30, 2006 12:25PM; Updated: Monday October 30, 2006 1:36PM
Few players in sports are as exciting -- and as exasperating -- as Michael Vick.
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Michael Vick has been presented to us as a multi-purpose sparkplug able to do superhuman things at will, as if he can just flip a switch and zoom past or soar above onrushing defenders. I don't think there's any actual switch that is flipped, but Vick does do things that no other NFL quarterbacks do. The problem is that some of these things do not help the Atlanta Falcons: Missing open receivers, trying to make something out of nothing and turning the ball over, and my favorite, dropping the ball in the pocket.
Despite his errors and occasional lapses of judgment, Atlanta Falcons fans have no choice but to embrace Vick. Not only is he not going anywhere -- he's the highest paid player in the NFL, after all -- but he remains the most exciting player in the league, while remaining one of the most maddening, at least to Falcons fans.
Thing is, it's embracing Vick that can be so problematic. Defenders can't wrap their arms around him, so why should fans be able to get a grip? Six seasons into his NFL career, we're still not sure which Vick will show up from week to week; In seven games this season, he's posted completion percentages in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. He's run for 100 yards twice, passed for 200 yards twice. He fumbled four times against the New York Giants, then threw four touchdowns one week later against the World Champion Steelers. Somehow, through Vick's ups and downs, the Falcons are 5-2, tied for first in the NFC South.
Each week when I sit down to watch the Falcons, I have to remember to temper my expectations for Vick. In fact, I've adopted a full set of rules for maximizing my enjoyment of the electrying signal-caller, based on the eight rules of Fight Club.
For the edification of Falcons fans everywhere, I now present my Rules of Vick Club:
1. You do not talk about Vick.
2. You do not talk about Vick: This may be my own little insecurity, but I've found that whenever I spend the week speaking on Vick, obsessing over his wildly inaccurate numbers and performances or hyping his athletic abilities and his laser, rocket arm, he comes out and posts another stinker. When I spend my time worrying about the other Falcons -- like the fragile John Abraham or the aspirationally talkative DeAngelo Hall -- and stop thinking about Vick, he turns in a memorable performance. In fact, this past week, I managed to avoid speaking about Vick, and he went 20 for 28 for 291 yards and three TDs. I believe a strict 24-hour window following games is acceptable, but after that, you do not talk about Vick. Mondays at 4:00 p.m., I stop talking about Vick for the rest of the week.