Michael Vick is 34 years old, he’s beginning a new stint with a third franchise, and he’s fighting like heck to be the starting quarterback of the New York Jets.
But whatever happens, he’s in a good place.
“It’s been great. I feel like I’ve matured on so many levels,” Vick said on The Morning Show. “When you can look back at yourself five or six years prior and see where you’re at previously or currently, you see the strides that you’ve made and the things that have transpired to make you the person that you are. You got to be proud of that. I feel like I’ve done a lot of great things that I’ve set out to do. I’ve been provided a lot of great opportunities from a lot of prominent people in the NFL – from Roger Goodell to Tony Dungy to Andy Reid. Just having a chance to revamp my whole career and now having an impact in the community through my foundation – I think this last five or six years has been a great transformation for me.”
Vick is vying to unseat Geno Smith as the Jets’ starting quarterback, but if he’s unable to do so, he’ll have no problem being a mentor – just as he was for Nick Foles last season in Philadelphia.
“Yeah, I can definitely play that role for Geno,” Vick said. “I think the modest thing and the right thing to do if put in that situation is to accept it. I just appreciate playing in the NFL so much and what it’s been able to do for my life, my family and myself personally. I just take it as it comes. I believe in my heart I’ll end up on this field at some point. It’s just up to me to be ready for it. Playing a mentor role, it would be something special. It’s almost as if it’s preparing me for a career after football. So you got to look forward to that opportunity.”
Vick, of course, was no stranger to controversy in his younger days, but he appears to have learned from his mistakes. With that in mind, what advice would he have for Johnny Manziel?
“For one thing, Johnny Manziel is (21) years old,” Vick said. “I think it’s important for people to understand that. He has his own personal life. What we all don’t take into consideration sometimes is that we overlook the fact that people like Johnny appreciate the position that they’re in. It just so happens he has uncanny potential and he’s a target. They like to talk about him. He fills papers, and he’s going to sell tickets. I think we just have to understand the position that Johnny’s in. He’s a young kid with a lot of football to play. We just got to give him an opportunity to go do it before we start scrutinizing him or judging him. Let him go out there and play two or three years before you start developing an opinion on him. He’s got my support through and through. I think he’s going to do great.”
Like Vick, Chris Johnson is another veteran trying to have a big impact with the Jets. Johnson, 28, has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his six NFL seasons.
“I’m excited for Chris,” Vick said. “You can tell when you talk to a person where they’re at mentally as far as their love for the game and their passion for football. In talking to Chris, the only thing he wants to do is to get back out there and prove the people wrong who say he can’t come back strong, that he’s not the back (he used to be). We’ve had numerous conversations about him and where he’s at right now. I think he feels like he has to convince me. He doesn’t have to convince me that he can still play, but that’s him showing that he wants to go out and convince everybody else that he’s still got it. I know he can. I see him every day. But I know his excitement will carry over to the field. He’s going to light it up this year. I’m excited for him.”
Who wins in a foot race? Vick or Johnson?
“Oh, Chris,” Vick said. “Chris definitely wins in a foot race. Even five years ago, Chris wins in a foot race. He has DeSean Jackson-like speed.”
What about Tiki Barber? Could Vick beat the 39-year-old?
“That,” Vick said, laughing, “is a race I can win.”