Over a week ago, former NFL quarterback, Michael Vick, retired from the game of football. He made history in the 2001 NFL draft where he was the first African-American quarterback to be the top pick among his peers. He was chosen by the Atlanta Falcons. Vick made many unforgettable marks while on the team.
After his 2007 suspension from the NFL for pleading guilty to dogfighting, he was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. He later played for the New York Jets (2014-2015) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (2015-2016). He announced his official retirement on February 3, 2017.
Days before his announcement, theplayerstribute.com published a letter that he wrote to Atlanta. In the letter, he described his everlasting love for the city, the game of football, and his tenacious support for the Atlanta Falcons.
Here is my response to his letter.
Dear Mike Vick,
Growing up, hearing your name always came with a tone of celebration and praise. “Yeah, Michael Vick,” people would say, “He’s what makes the Falcons The Falcons.” And you were. A lot of my classmates looked up to you in hopes of being “just as good as you” one day. My mother, who is a Baltimore native, also expressed tremendous support for you. A lot of it had to do with the fact that you were a regular donor to Boys & Girls Clubs, which was her former place of employment, but of course, it was also because you were a beast on the field too.
I also remember seeing your jersey everywhere. For a long time, I really didn’t know any other players on the team other than you. People talked about you so much and wore your jersey so often, it’s almost as if I knew you personally. But even so, I knew exactly who you were each time: Mike Vick, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons.
As you mentioned in your letter, everyone was always at a Falcons game. And why wouldn’t they be? Although I have never been to a game myself, I can still get a good feeling of what it must have been like; fans lined up all around the Georgia Dome in red, black, and white with those gigantic, blinding, lights. You could probably feel the energy from the locker rooms. And I can only imagine what it must have felt like every time you stepped out on the field when it was game time; adrenaline running, mind focused on the task before you. You probably always had your stomach turning for a few seconds too. But once you got over that uneasy sensation, a calm swept over you. Those cheering fans reassured you that they were there to have a good time. And you almost never failed to deliver.
Those were the days when you had Atlanta behind you.
For anyone that kept tabs on you after your suspension, they know it was hard for you to get back into the game. Considering how much you love the game of football, it was probably harder on you than it was for us to watch. But even with your unfulfilled hope of regaining your position back with the Falcons, you didn’t give up. And I applaud you for that.
Of course, many people resented your return to the game, which they have all the freedom to do. But you still didn’t let that stop you from beasting on the field. While playing with the New York Jets, you were the first quarterback to reach 6,000 rushing yards during Week 10, in a 20–13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not too shabby.
It seems like you still had it in you. You still had that drive to deliver on the field. But I know your heart was still with the Falcons. I know you would have given anything to take them to their first Super Bowl game in over twenty years. What you wouldn’t have given to be there in Houston.
What you wouldn’t have given to feel Atlanta behind you again.
Even though you’re retired from playing now, you’ll always be known as a legend to the city of Atlanta. You’re still one of the greatest inspirations of my classmates growing up. To this day, my mother always says that there has been no other quarterback like you that gave her the spirit of watching games. “There ain’t nobody else that can do it like Vick out there,” she says, “Nobody.” You are definitely what made the Falcons, The Falcons.
I hope for only the best for you and your future endeavors. I wish you the best of luck, Mike Vick, former quarterback, Atlanta Falcons. My mom still believes in you. I still believe in you. Atlanta, for sure, believes in you.
And we still stand behind you.