All of these years later, it’s still about hope for Michael Vick.
Now it’s just a different type of hope.
A few years ago, Vick hoped to get a crack at another job in the NFL after his activity in a heinous dogfighting ring was exposed and resulted in a 21-month prison stint.
This time, the job search didn’t hinge on the image-rehab factor.
It’s essential football: Can Vick put it all together again and produce magic?
The New York Jets, and their long-suffering fans, know all about hope. The Jets gambled with Brett Favre, rolled with Mark Sanchez. One day, someone woke up and thought Tim Tebow was a good idea.
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Last year, they drafted Geno Smith.
Now here comes Vick.
This is a good move for the Jets, better than pursuing Matt Schaub or even Josh McCown, given the hope factor. Vick, when he’s on, can still be so electric.
He showed that in flashes last season with the Eagles, initially winning the job over Nick Foles.
The obvious swing factor with Vick ? even more so than when he was younger and just as much as the potential for turnovers ? is whether he will stay healthy with that multi-dimensional style that can produce electricity and heartbreak. He lost the Eagles job after an injury opened the door for Foles to come in and light it up.
One way or another, if Vick wins the job over Smith, it will be temporary. Maybe Vick gives the Jets an extended period of time to allow Smith to develop in the wings. It’s more likely that Vick, who turns 34 in June, will win the job and then suffer some injury that opens the door for Smith to play.
I’m not wishing anything bad for Vick. I’m just considering the history. He’s played a full 16-game season just once in his career, way back in 2006.
Sure, the team has invited another quarterback controversy in its midst. Given the Big Apple media glare, the controversy ? or just the threat of controversy ? promises to more intense than elsewhere.
That’s just the way it is with the Jets, and Rex Ryan won’t run from that.
Yet budding controversy or not, Vick walks in the door already knowing the system run by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg ? putting him far ahead of the curve than he would have been had he left the Eagles for a team besides the Jets.
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Of course, Vick, who will turn 34, has learned over the past couple of weeks since the free agency market opened, that no other team wanted him ? at least not like the Jets.
He was arguably the most attractive quarterback on the free agent market, but when he went to Jets headquarters on Friday it marked his first visit.
The Bucs, incidentally, argued by their actions that McCown was the most attractive available quarterback.
In any event, Vick landing with the Jets says something about NFL connections. After prison, Vick had the best season of his NFL career in 2010 under Mornhinweg, with the Eagles. And Mornhinweg loves Vick and his talent ? even now.
The challenge for both of them is to recapture that flow. Or else.
Vick isn’t assured of starting job, but he’ll get a shot. As free agency opened, buzz circulated that suggested Vick would wait before deciding his future, presumably with a chance to survey which teams might draft a young quarterback.
If that was indeed the thinking, it provided a reality check. This is an era where in most cases the young quarterbacks play right away, ready or not, developing or not, along the way.
Yet Vick has landed in the best possible spot because he will get a chance to start, reunites with Mornhinweg and can even be a mentor for the young quarterback that he aims to beat out.
My, how times have changed. A few years ago, Vick was being mentored by Donovan McNabb as he sought to put his life and career back on track.
Now he can have what could be a final fling in the NFL and mentor Smith.
At least that’s the hope.
Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter at @JarrettBell.
Bell: Michael Vick is Jets’ new definition of hope – USA TODAY