Oltmanns: Vick back to video-game form

By Alex Oltmanns

I can remember playing Madden in high school, and every time one of my friends wanted to play… I can remember playing Madden in high school, and every time one of my friends wanted to play against me as the Atlanta Falcons, I would make him pick another team.

It simply wouldn’t be fair. The Falcons’ quarterback was an incredibly accurate passer and could run for a first down pretty much anytime he wanted.

That quarterback was Michael Vick, a dynamic player who was so good that he even graced the video game’s cover in 2004. But in a well-documented trial where he was convicted of organizing dog fighting, the former Pro Bowler served a two-year jail sentence starting in 2007.

A funny thing happened since then: Vick seems to have gotten even better.

This was never more evident than last Monday night, where he dismantled the Washington Redskins with his new team, the Philadelphia Eagles, en route to a 59-28 win where he put up video game-like statistics, going 20 for 28 with 333 yards passing, 80 yards rushing and six total touchdowns.

Despite not even beginning the year as the starting quarterback and then missing three games in the middle of the season once he was named starter, Vick is making a serious push toward being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

With 15 total touchdowns this season and zero interceptions, Vick is the main reason why Philadelphia is considered to be a real contender to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Vick’s improvement certainly isn’t because of physical improvement — he was arguably the best athlete in the league before going to jail, and being locked up for two years isn’t exactly beneficial for a player trying to stay in playing shape.

Rather, his improvement has come with his increased level of maturity. He’s a smarter player now. Before, he would try and win every game with his legs, sometimes forcing the issue. But now he’s looking to pass first, and if a running lane presents itself, he’ll take it.

The once-maligned quarterback has seemed to put his legal troubles behind him as he’s become a fan favorite in Philadelphia and throughout the entire NFL with his electrifying play.

For what it’s worth, I think Vick deserves to win the league’s most-coveted individual trophy. America’s all about second chances, and Vick’s made the most of his. He started his epic game against the Redskins in style, throwing an 88-yard touchdown pass on his first play.

The deep ball was thrown perfectly — a microcosm of the near-perfection he’s been playing with all season.

So if I’m ever playing Madden ’11 in the near future and my opponent chooses the Eagles, you can be sure that I’ll make my opponent change teams.