Michael Vick has won an award.
The Eagles announced this morning that Vick's teammates have voted him as this year's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which is given annually to a player who exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.
"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."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said the vote was a unanimous one. Actually, it wasn't. Vick said he had a vote and that he didn't cast his for himself.
"I won't say who I voted for," Vick said.
Reid was asked if he was worried about how the award would be interpreted in light of Vick's past. In case you just awoke from a 3-year coma, Vick served 18 months in a federal prison for his role in running a dogfighting ring, was released in the summer and signed not long after by the Eagles amid a storm of controversy.
"I'm not sure you can explain it, unless you've kind of gone through it here with him," Reid said. "Everybody is going to have their opinion on it I'm sure. Until you've been with him for the hours that his teammates have been with him and seen him through all these different things that he's had to go through, that time-tested part of it, you can't appreciate it.
"I don't expect everybody to understand it. I think it's a tribute when it's a slam dunk by his teammates voting him that. It was an unanimous vote. It's not something that we as coaches ... or anybody else promotes. We don't sit there and promote a player to win the award. It's picked by the players and only by the players."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement criticizing the award.
"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," the statement from PETA read. "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 said that he has come to accept the criticism that goes with his past.
"People are going to criticize," he said. "People are going to say what they're going to say in any given situation whether you are doing good or bad. That's something I've learned to deal with, something I've tried to avoid. Just try to move on and be positive in everything that I do in my life. You can't get caught up in what people are saying and what people are saying in newspapers. It only hurts your mindset."
Quarterback Donovan McNabb said that he didn't care how the team's vote would be interpreted.
"You guys know me by now, I don't care what people say on the outside," McNabb said. "That was something voted on by his peers and teammates and by the coaching staff. Well deserved."
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 March 9, 2010, in Baltimore, MD. For more information on this award and the banquet, please contact the Ed Block office at (410-821-6252) or log on to www.EdBlock.org.