I’ve been in many stadiums and traveled to various fields. My eyes have seen great players and even better plays. Overtimes, milestones and blowouts are nothing new. At the ripe old age of 26, I know that I’ll never see anything as magical as Sept. 4, 1999 – Michael Vick’s first game as Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback.
My understanding doesn’t depress me. Knowing I’ve witnessed the most goose bump-inspiring sight in sports doesn’t keep me from watching. I’m one for nostalgia, and I feel like I’ve been here before. In front of a keyboard with the memories flooding back through my mind and out my fingertips. Maybe I have been here. At the very least, I’ve been somewhere similar.
Unlike the déjà vu-inducing moment, this post isn’t about my allegiance to the Hokies. It’s not about my dedication to the Philadelphia Eagles. It doesn’t detail a relationship with my late father. If that’s what you’re after, click through the hyperlink.
This is about how things tend to happen on this globe without reason or explanation. They don’t come back to you and ask for forgiveness or begin their occurrence begging for permission. Things happen and you see them. Sports sit atop the list of unpredictable. We never know what we’ll see when the ball snaps, the pitch is delivered or the shot taken. Viewers are reduced to nothingness as we watch and learn. Predictions and post-game griping make us feel smart, like we’re a part of the action. Deep down we know we are just hanging on every pass and waiting for those moments that take our breaths away. We wait for greatness, and sometimes, we see it running down a field among others who don’t belong on the same plane.
Watch a documentary about a sports figure and the clichés are everywhere. They’re all true to the voices retelling them. No one ever saw someone make a catch like Willie Mays did. The sheer power and speed of Bo Jackson changed things. Julius Erving’s dunk from the free throw line felt impossible. The true game-changers did what never could be imagined. The people who saw those feats, they realized the special talent immediately and naturally.
When Vick took off for the first time – a 54-yard dash – things changed for me. At 11 years old, I didn’t know enough about allegiance to assume my guy was better than other guys. Instead, I just knew it. He moved in a way that could only be compared to magic. He ran what felt like 400 yards in what felt like two seconds. He instantly became the main character in my storybook.
He chased a dream, then demons, then another dream, then turnover woes and now he’s back in a starting job. Chip Kelly decided rather than let Nick Foles run seven yards, he’d let Vick run 30. Of course, the 33-year-old has lost a fraction of a step, but when you start with what he had, it’s still valuable.
From the inaugural snap of his career, the idea that something special could happen next never died. In Atlanta, the world saw it at its peak when he dashed through Minnesota’s Metrodome. We’ve seen it at the low point on the field with fumble-itis. Quite simply, no one knows what will happen when Vick is at the helm. To complicate matters, no one knows what else will happen when Vick is at the helm.