Who's the ultimate Falcon? And who's the ultimate anti-Falcon? That's what we're going to find out with our summer project: the Scale of Falconliness. We'll rate former Falcons on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most Falconly. The rule: minimum of three seasons with the Falcons for coaches, five seasons for players.
2003 NFL MVP runner-up and ESPY NFL Player of the Year.
2002, 2004, and 2005 Pro Bowler. More Pro Bowls than any other Falcons quarterback.
One of the two or three most talented and exciting athletes in Atlanta sports history. Easily the league's most exciting player at the time.
The only Falcons QB besides Steve Bartkowski to lead the team on multiple playoff runs. The only Falcons QB besides Chris Chandler to reach the NFC Championship Game. (Usually we'd point out football is a team game, and quarterbacks get too much credit or blame. But Vick was a special case -- that team had zero playoff chances without him, as 2003 proved.)
Third on the NFL's all-time list in career quarterback rushing yards; first in rushing yards per game. All-time yards-per-attempt leader among all qualifying players.
Fourth in career passing yards and touchdowns as a Falcon -- if we include rushing contributions, which we kind of should since yards are yards and touchdowns are touchdowns, he's third and second respectively.
More games as a Falcons QB than anyone besides Bartkowski.
.575 career winning percentage as a Falcon, by far the best of any passers who started five or more seasons or pretty much any other Falcons passers too. During his career, the Falcons went 9-19 in games he missed -- 13-31, if we count 2007.
"He wadn't never a real korterback" types tend to overlook the fact that he contributed more total yards and touchdowns per game than any Falcons quarterback besides Jeff George; his career passer rating was within 0.3 points of Bartkowski's; his yards per attempt were within 0.3 yards of Bartkowski's, despite playing in Dan Reeves' incredibly complex-yet-bland offense and Jim Mora's ill-fitting West Coast mess; his career interception percentage was better than Chandler's, Chris Miller's, Bob Berry's, or Bartkowski's; and so on.
Yes, his completion percentage fell below 55% for one of his four complete seasons. Do we think he made up for that by avoiding sacks, drawing half of every defender's attention at all times, forcing opposing offenses to play cautiously, and running for over 50 yards a game, or are we not familiar with the whole point of football offense? If a quarterback's job is to complete passes, Vick was decent. If it's to help his team win, Vick was briefly at least as good as any other Falcon, and I think that's a conservative statement.
Made the Falcons matter -- nationally and statewide. For a good twenty months or so, a player in a Falcons jersey was the face of the league. You can argue that most Vick fans are still just Vick fans, but quite a few became Falcons fans. Anecdotal evidence: last year I met a fan who signed on to pro football because of Vick, but stuck around after Vick left. He was wearing a replica Brian Finneran jersey at a Goodie Mob show, one of the slickest venue-ensemble combinations a brother could ever dream up.
Two Sports Illustrated covers, several ESPN the Magazine covers, Madden 2004, and a half-dozen national endorsements as a Falcon, including Atlanta companies like AirTran and Coca-Cola...
The water bottle. (If you believe it was really just oregano or whatever, we'd like to live a day in your reality. Before doing so, we'd leave ourselves notes about anthills tasting like cotton candy and set up cameras to record the action. But then the next day when we returned to our reality we'd have antbites throughout our digestive system, so the joke would be on us. Which would remind us of much of Vick's career.)
(For this side of the ledger, perhaps I could've just said "Responsible for more Smoking Gun articles than the rest of the NFC South combined.")
Bought a luxury car on his way to jail. Failed a drug test in prison. For f***'s sake, Mike.
Poor leadership: failed to establish his criminal empire in such a way that his subordinates are aware it's their job to take 100% of the fall. Has apparently never seen The Wire.
Has admitted he didn't really try all that hard as a Falcon, despite signing a $100 million contract. Not that we needed him to admit that. I don't really like Star Wars, but you know that scene where whoever says to Anakin, "You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. You were to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness." Yeah. (Copied from IMDB, I swear.)
"Dragged Roddy White into a Virginia gunfight" would be a sensational way to put it, but...
This list is so amazing, it feels dumb to include minor transgressions like "once spotted in a Yankees hat." If Bob Berry had wore a Yankees hat around Atlanta, that would be half of his demerits.
Responsible for countless AJC.com comment section Klan rallies (and their offspring, the Weekly Matt Ryan Reverse Racism Seminar). For a while, visiting the city paper's website felt like watching O.J. Simpson drive through Alabama for pageviews, which was embarrassing. Now they just scream vintage college football scoreboard copypasta at each other for hours, which is pretty true to life.