Michael Vick is back on the football field and for Philadelphia Eagles fans, that’s good news after a dismal last season. Now with a new coach in Chip Kelly, who replaced Andy Reid, the Eagles may again be contenders. While Kelly has yet to name a starting quarterback, most around the Eagles organization believe it will be Vick. But for Vick, who came back from incarceration and a scandal that cost him his job, his freedom, his money and his reputation, every day is a chance to redeem himself. The newlywed, who wed longtime girlfriend Kijafa Frank last summer, and his Team Vick Foundation, just donated a brand new football field to a Philadelphia football team in need of their help.
Team Vick’s $200,000 donation helped restore a football field in the Hunting Park area of the city, which will be renamed Team Vick field. It will become the home field of the Philadelphia Aztecs football team, the first inner city football team to win a Pop Warner championship.
“They had no football field to play on,” Vick told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “It was mentioned to me two years ago and we put a great team together and collectively we’ve been able to put a field together for the kids in the city of Philadelphia. It was something that I really wanted to do post-incarceration. I wanted to give back as much as I could and do it in the city of Philadelphia where I was embraced when I first came home from prison. It means the world to me, to my family and to the Team Vick foundation. We want to give back and help kids develop a dream and set goals and have an opportunity to go further in life.”
To that end, Vick also met with Georgia Representative John Lewis recently on behalf of Team Freedom Outreach – a volunteer program to help incarcerated youth participate in sports. “Many of these children who are incarcerated receive no visitors,” Vick told reporters. “Team Freedom Outreach gives them positive mentorship. It shows these kids that somebody cares. It helps them make a plan.”
Asked if he had any advice for disgraced former NFL players Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson, Vick was sympathetic.
“To guys like T.O. and Chad Johnson, you’ve gotta keep the faith in the situation that they’re facing. I know they both love the game of football and want to get back but I think the right opportunity or right situation presents itself, it will happen for them. But as of right now, I think their football careers are over with, so they have to find another niche. And that’s what we all face as time goes on and we spend X amount of years in the league. We start preparing for life after football. It’s a tough transition but you have to do it.”
With the NFL season in front of him and the continuing question of who’s going to be QB1, although Vick is running the majority of the plays at Eagles’ pre-season practice, Vick is not really thinking about the future yet. But after 12 seasons in the league taking the kind of shots he’s taken in the last two seasons and at age 33, ancient in football terms, it’s likely he’ll have to think about it soon.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much from so many coaches about the game of football, so I may coach some day,” Vick says. “I know the hours are extreme. Either that or broadcasting, but that’s down the road from now. I’m going to focus on what’s in front of me right now.”