Vick's NFL MVP Chances Jump on Six-Touchdown Game as Peyton Manning Leads
Eighteen months after his release from a federal prison, quarterback Michael Vick’s odds of winning the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player Award are getting lower by the week.
Vick, 30, has helped Philadelphia (6-3) to a first-place tie atop its division since replacing Kevin Kolb as the Eagles’ starter in Week 3. He’s the NFL’s top-rated passer, throwing 11 touchdowns with no interceptions, and has rushed for four scores while averaging 7.8 yards a carry.
Vick’s resurgence, after missing the 2007 and 2008 seasons because he was in federal jail on dog-fighting convictions, has led online gambling website BetUS.com to lower the former No. 1 draft pick’s MVP odds to 5-1 from 25-1 a week ago. Vick’s odds were 50-1 at the start of the season.
“Vick’s comeback is as stunning a story as his actions off the field in the past were abhorrent,” BetUS spokesman Reed Richards said by e-mail. “While nothing can erase what he did, he has paid a price and been given a second chance, which he’s making the most of on the field.”
Vick’s odds are now tied for fourth among the top MVP candidates at Costa Rica-based BetUS. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning won his record fourth NFL MVP Award last year and is the 2-1 favorite to repeat this season.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the second choice at 3-1, followed by New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning at 4-1. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is tied at 5-1 with Vick, whose Eagles host the Giants this week to decide first place in the NFC Eastern Division.
Vick yesterday was voted the top offensive player in the National Football Conference for the second straight week after accounting for six touchdowns in a 59-28 win over the Washington Redskins on “Monday Night Football.”
“I’ve had some great games in my day, but I don’t think I’ve had one quite like this,” Vick said during a news conference after throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 80 yards and two scores.
Once the NFL’s highest-paid player with a 10-year, $130 million contract in Atlanta, Vick was a third-stringer for the Eagles last season after returning to the NFL.
He was suspended by league Commissioner Roger Goodell in August 2007 after he admitted to charges of conspiring to run Bad Newz Kennels, a ring that bought, trained and fought dogs in Virginia and other states.
He was described as “cruel and reprehensible” by Goodell for helping to bankroll Bad Newz Kennels, which drowned, hanged, shot or electrocuted dogs that lost fights. In April 2007 Vick took part in the killing of eight animals, one of which was dispatched by slamming it into the ground, his criminal indictment said.
Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison in December 2007 and served 18 months before being released in May 2009.
Since joining the Eagles, he’s worked with the Humane Society of the United States and talked with children and community groups about the brutality of dog fighting.
When Donovan McNabb was traded to Washington, Vick became the backup in Philadelphia. When Kolb suffered a Week 2 concussion, Vick led the Eagles to a win and coach Andy Reid decided to stick with him, saying he had an “ex-superstar who’s regained his abilities.”
Since missing three games because of a rib injury, Vick has led the Eagles to consecutive wins over the Colts and the Redskins. He’s connected on a career-high 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,350 yards.
Best in the League
In an ESPN poll, 90 percent of the more than 20,000 respondents said Vick is a better quarterback now than during his first six NFL seasons with the Falcons, who made him the first pick in the 2001 draft. Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson said Vick is the best quarterback in the NFL.
“Preparing for him, you’re not going to get any sleep at night, because what are you going to do?” Patterson told reporters. “He’s efficient, he hasn’t thrown any interceptions and he’s hitting people in stride. He’s in his prime and it’s obvious.”
Although he missed almost three full seasons, Vick is three years younger than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who’s the 10-1 fifth choice to win his second MVP award.
Brady said yesterday during his weekly radio appearance with WEEI in Boston that Vick’s mobility, decision making and strong, accurate arm are making the Eagles’ offense “damn near impossible to stop.”
Former NFL coach Jon Gruden, now an analyst for ESPN, said during Monday night’s telecast that if Vick “keeps this up, he’s going to be the NFL Player of the Year.” While Vick’s odds of winning the MVP continue to drop, he deflects talk of long- term goals and credits teammates for his success.
“I could have never envisioned this,” Vick said. “I didn’t even think I would be starting at quarterback. All this is paramount for me, but at the same time it’s somewhat surprising.”
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