At 35, Michael Vick is on the back nine of his NFL career. In fact, he’s well past Amen Corner and has just a couple more holes to play, including one Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
Vick will lead the Steelers (2-1) against the visiting Baltimore Ravens (0-3), with both franchises in desperate need of a win, especially with the Bengals (3-0) off to such a hot start. While the Steelers will likely lean on Le’Veon Bell, their fortunes may hinge on the play of Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler who has wow-ed fans with his raw athleticism since 2001.
Vick’s coach that year? That would be Dan Reeves, who feels extremely fortunate that he was able to coach Vick when he did.
“No question,” Reeves said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He was a tremendously talented young man. I just wish I’d have had the fortune of coaching him the entire time. He’s been through so many different systems, which is very difficult for anybody to have to learn a new system – all of the terminology and all of the things you have to go through. I think this is a chance for him to really show what he can do. He’s with a good organization, a good football team. I’m pulling for him hard to play well.”
Athletes, as we all know, regress. Father Time is unbeaten. Players are unstoppable one day and washed up the next. It’s tough for athletes to endure that, yes.
But it’s also tough for coaches to watch it.
“It’s been very difficult,” the 71-year-old Reeves said. “Mike’s gone through a heck of a lot. The different systems and he’s gone through the trouble that he had off the field. He’s handled that. He’s gone through some difficult times and he’s just got to try to make the best of the situations that he’s in. I think this is a great opportunity for him. You hate – and I know he does hate – that Ben got hurt, but this is an opportunity. You never know when it’s going to happen, and he’s just got to step up and show what he’s capable of doing.”
We witnessed the magic of Vick in January 2003, when he led the Falcons to a 27-7 playoff road win over the Packers. Few people gave the Falcons a chance to waltz into snowy Lambeau and beat Brett Favre and the Pack, but they did – and they did because of Vick, who threw for 117 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 64.
It was Green Bay’s first home playoff loss in franchise history. The Pack entered the night 13-0 in such games, with 11 wins coming at Lambeau and two others coming in Milwaukee.
No matter. Vick stole the show.
“He was just extremely talented,” Reeves said. “He showed what he could do.”
The Steelers are hoping Vick can show that once more Thursday night. Kickoff is at 8:25 ET.