Michael Vick has been named the Eagles' Ed Block Courage Award recipient for this season in a vote of his teammates. The award honors NFL players who exemplify commitment to sportsmanship and courage. They are selected by their teammates for team effort and individual performance.
The selection drew immediate criticism in some quarters.
In a statement, PETA said, "The Philadelphia Eagles fumbled when they gave Michael Vick the Ed Block Courage Award, which was named after a man who advocated in behalf of abused children. Michael Vick should not be the person anyone points to as a model of sportsmanship, even though he has now exchanged dogs for touchdowns after serving time for extreme cruelty to animals. We wish him well in educating others, but this is not appropriate and does not mark a joyous moment in NFL history."Vick has played in 12 games, completing six of 13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. He has also rushed 24 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. All three of his touchdowns have come in the last three games.
Coach Andy Reid said Vick was a "unanimous vote" and that he is not sure anyone can understand the situation or the vote who has not been with Vick through his struggles. The award is "for working to straighten his life and better himself as a human being," Reid said. Vick is "obviously well-respected by his teammates."
"I've had to overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can bear," Vick said. "Take a look at what I've been through. You ask certain people to walk in my shoes, they probably couldn't do it -- probably 95 percent of the people in this world. Because nobody had to endure what I've been through, situations I've been put in, situations I've placed myself in, decisions that I've made, whether they were good or bad. There are always consequences behind certain things and there are repercussions behind them, too. Then you have to wake up every day and face the world, whether they perceive you in the right perspective or it's a totally different outlook on you.
"You just have to be strong and believe in yourself and be optimistic. That's what I've been able to do and that's what I display."
Vick returned to the NFL with the Eagles after missing nearly two years of playing time and serving 18 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring in Virginia.
"It means a lot to me. It means a lot to my family," Vick said of the award. "It means a lot to me because of everything I've been through and what I've come back and been able to do. Just having the chance to be back and playing again is a blessing."
"I've only been in this locker room for 3 1/2 months. For those guys to feel that way about me, it means a lot to me. The bond that I have with the players on this team and the way we've jelled has been outstanding. Like I've said before, I couldn't have been with a greater group of guys. This is a group that's special and I see why this is one of the top organizations in this league."
Previous Eagles award winners: Jon Dorenbos (2008), Montae Reagor (2007), Jerome McDougle (2006), Chad Lewis (2005), Derrick Burgess (2004), Correll Buckhalter (2003), Shawn Barber (2002), Duce Staley and Tommy Brasher (2001), Cecil Martin (2000), Mike Mamula (1999), Bobby Taylor (1998), Rhett Hall (1997), Kevin Turner (1996), Charlie Garner (1995), Fred Barnett (1994), Andre Waters (1993), Jerome Brown (1992), David Alexander (1991), Ron Solt (1990), Mike Quick (1989), Wes Hopkins (1988), Gerry Feehery (1987), Jody Schultz (1986), Ron Jaworski (1985), John Spagnola (1984).
Vick, along with one player from each of the other 31 NFL teams, will be honored at the Ed Block Courage Award Banquet on March 9 in Baltimore.