Michael Vick proclaimed himself the “Wildcat originator” from his time with the Falcons in 2006 and said he was ready for whatever way the Eagles decided to use him on Sunday.
The Eagles quarterback also said he has been embraced by the fan base, added that he still braces himself for dealing with fans who are unable to forgive him for his involvement in a dogfighting ring that led to 18 months in prison.
“Philadelphia is a great city,” Vick said in a live interview with the team Web site this morning. “I’ve been embraced everywhere I’ve been. People have been accepting me with open arms. It’s a remarkable feeling after going through what I’ve gone through the last two years and the type of publicity I’ve received and all the things that have happened.”
Vick said he tries to be prepared to deal with fans unwilling to give him a second chance.
“You never know how people are going to react,” he said. “I understand people out there that are upset and I understand why. My thing is to try to reconcile. I have said I’m sorry for what I did and I continue to feel that way from the heart. I just have to do the right things and stay on course.”
“Deep down inside, I know am truly remorseful for what I did. I’m the only one who has to deal with that. I’m the only one who has to lay down at night and beat myself up over it.”
Vick lauded the help he has received from the Eagles’ offensive staff to get to this point in terms of football. He said he was at about 85 to 90 percent, up from 70 percent in his preseason debut. He said the coaches have not told him his role.
“We’ll come up with something. It’s to be determined,” he said. “I’m excited about that. I’m going to be ready. I’m going to be dressed out. Whenever my number is called, I want to go out and do what I can to the best of my abilities.”
Vick’s role in the Wildcat adds another dimension because he can both run and pass from the formation, as he did with the Falcons. Vick ran for more than 1,000 yards -- a record for a quarterback -- with the Falcons in the 2006 season.
“You can’t just be one-dimensional in the Wildcat,” he said. “You have to create that balance so the opposition does noot know exactly what you’re going to do. It’s going to be critical. It has to be 50-50, 60-40, 70-30. You have to mix it up. That’s been key.”
Later, in an interview with reporters in front of his locker, Vick noted that the Falcons' Wildcatesque option offense lost steam as the season progressed; teams adjusted their defenses to stop it.
"I thought it was the best thing smokin', and it really helped our football team reach a certain plateau," he said. "Down the stretch, it kind of wore itself out and wasn't as productive as it was the first half of the season. It can be a part of your offense, but not a major part of your offense. I think you've just got to throw it in every now and then, but this league is too complex and too fast, and coaches are too smart, to line up and run it all the time."
Vick said he was so unhappy, on and off the field, that last year in Atlanta, he felt he was headed toward early retirement -- he said he didn't have a tangible plan to retire, but it was in the back of his mind.
"At the end of the day, I was just drained, mentally, physically and emotionally," he said. He said his time in prison and away from football renewed his appreciation for the game.
Vick said this is “as settled down as I have been in my life.”
“Having my family here, having my fiancé here and her family and the kids. This was a point I wanted to reach before I got incarcerated. I was trying to turn the corner a long time ago. Maybe it wasn’t time. I feel like things happen for a reason. I feel like I’m in this position for a reason. I’m at peace. I’m settled emotionally 100 percent.”
"Every day I wake up at marvel that I have this chance. The hard part is over with. Now it’s time to play football."
However, Vick emphasized he will continue his work in the community and it will continue beyond his football career.
"This situation has humbled and grounded me in so many different ways" he said. "I’m excited about what I’m doing in the community. I’m passionate about it. I’m excited to reach out to so many people and that they are gravitating to what I’m doing."
In addition to making another school appearance Tuesday, Vick appeared at a community center in North Philadelphia, speaking to a group of people that included men who had previously gambled on dogfighting.
"It was very important, just to have open dialogue and to see where their minds were at, why they're into what they're into, why they were doing it ... We talked about the reasons behind why it goes on in our culture, how we can put a stop to that, and try to help out in the communities ... I think a lot of people are starting to understand that it's pointless activity, there's no need for it., it's a dead-end street."
To read our earlier post with Andy Reid's injury report, click here.