20 Years Ago, Michael Vick Flipped His Way Into Our Hearts As A Virginia Tech Freshman

Will all due respect to that non-suit-wearing quarterback at the NFL Draft of the New York Jets named Geno Smith, I still want Michael Vick in the NFL.

This is just how it has to be for me. As long as Michael Dwayne Vick is alive and well, I want to see the man play football. I don't care if he's got a few gray hairs. I don't care if the speed has declined (still one of the top 10 guys in the league ... probably). I don't care if the man has had more ups and downs than the stock market in a recession. I want to see Vick slanging the pill and running around the yard.

Michael Vick will always be the most electrifying football player of my generation, and his legend grew in his first game as a collegian for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

To be completely honest, before the 1999 season I'd never even heard of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Those uniforms were … different. (Are they wearing orange and burnt purple?) What is this Beamer Ball they keep making reference to? Goodness gracious they've got speed all across the field. By the time the 1999 season ended, I was actively wondering whether VPI was one of the top 10 colleges for student-athletes in the country.

On September 11th, 1999, the Hokies were slated to play their in-state rival in James Madison. Head coach Frank Beamer decided to do the unthinkable and start a redshirt freshman wearing #7 ... and then, the magic happened.

Three things quickly:

ONE: I will never not get goosebumps watching Michael Vick wear the Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

TWO: This play is so absurd. Doesn't Vick know that he runs a 4.2 40-yard time and that his ACLs are made out of adamantium? He could've found a few different routes to get into the end zone, but instead, he wants to do things the hard way. Vick would leave the game with a mangled ankle after "The Flip" and would miss the remainder of this game and the following game versus UAB.

THREE: Mark Trible is an alumnus of Virginia Tech. I'd pay all the money in the world to see the young fella's face when he first saw the legend of Michael Vick from Newport News.

The 1999 NCAA football season would be one that took my college football fandom over the edge. We were introduced to the burly tailback from Wisconsin in Ron Dayne, who would break Ricky Williams' single-season rushing record. We got to know this short guy named Drew Brees who called himself a quarterback from Purdue, who accurately hit his receivers anywhere on the football field. We saw this Cinderella team from Blacksburg become giant killers to take their talents to the Super Dome and the national championship. Finally, we'd be introduced to the second most electrifying football player in the land, Peter Warrick, and his juggernaut Florida State Seminoles.

Sure, the Seminoles won the BCS National Championship that year, but Michael Vick won our hearts. As far as I'm concerned, when I tell my kids about 1999, the young fella who wore #7 in the Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange jersey will be the first person I mention.

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