Skitch Hanson: Vick of it All

Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know Skitch as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may have read his best-selling book Mr. November: How Derek Jeter’s Home Run in the 2001 World Series Healed a City I Don’t Particularly Care For. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Opinions! You can follow Skitch on Twitter here. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

vick.jpgLike many football fans, I couldn’t help but be amazed by Michael Vick this season. I thrilled as he wrested the starting quarterback job from Kevin Kolb. Marveled as he regained the form that once made him the game’s most dynamic player. Was floored when he engineered an improbable comeback against the Giants. I had hope that Vick could put his sordid past behind him.

Unfortunately, his collapse in the playoff game against the Packers shows that he still has a long way to go in order to redeem himself for what he’s done.

In the regular season, Vick was an explosive power, a one-man dynamo, one for which few teams were prepared. His arm seemed to finally catch up with his legs, and his mobility threw opposing defenses for a loop all year long. He singlehandedly guided Philadelphia past the Giants into first place in the NFC East and a home playoff game.

But then he squandered that opportunity with a less-than-stellar performance against Green Bay. The numbers speak for themselves–three sacks, only eight rushing attempts, and a defeat-sealing interception in the game’s final moments. Such a lackluster outing dashes all hopes that he was fully rehabilitated for his heinous crimes.

When training camp opens next summer, Vick will find himself back at square one. He will still have to prove that he is the kind of field general who’s capable of carrying his team deep into the playoffs, and is therefore a changed man. Otherwise, he’ll just be the prototypical flashy QB who is all style and no substance, which would also mean he still needs to atone for his misdeeds.

If Vick wants a role model, he need look no further than another player with a checkered past who played on Sunday: Ray Lewis. Eleven years ago, Lewis was involved in a fight that resulted in a man being stabbed to death, and the linebacker found himself indicted for murder. Some thought Lewis would never be able to make up for his role in such a deadly encounter, but he showed them wrong by remaining a defensive force to be reckoned for the next decade.

On Sunday, Lewis captained the Baltimore defense and stifled Matt Cassell all day, resulting in a dominant 30-7 Ravens win. One can only hope that Vick someday learns how to show such remorse.