Only a few days before the Super Bowl, not many fans have been discussing Atlanta’s last quarterback. Sorry Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman, but we are not talking about you. Wednesday morning, Vick published an open letter to Atlanta published in the Player’s Tribune.
Vick is still an emotionally-charged person in Atlanta, and his letter covers way too much ground for me to summarize and editorialize. I would highly recommend you read it in its entirety.
The letter had nearly everything you want from the former franchise quarterback. How he defined himself as Atlanta’s quarterback. The way he made Falcons football fun, and how that resonated with the city in a way that was special. Then quickly hiitting rock bottom. His happy return to the Georgia Dome just a few weeks ago. His continued love for the Falcons and the city of Atlanta.
Here are a few of the best sections that struck me as important.
I wanted to write a letter to the city of Atlanta.
I wanted to write to the city as a whole, and to the people in it — to remember, I guess, and to say thanks. And maybe also just to sort of reflect. Because without Atlanta … man, without Atlanta, I’m nothing. Without Atlanta, I might not even be here to write this today.
And when the Falcons beat the Packers two weeks ago, and made it to the Super Bowl — well, it seemed like the perfect time. It’s been almost 10 years, now, since I last played a down for the Falcons. And for whatever reason, and it’s hard to explain … there is something about this year, and this season, that just feels right. It seems like Atlanta — as a team, as a city, as a culture — is finally coming full circle. And in my own small way, I hope I am too.
Vick says he’s been rooting for the Falcons all season. He’s still a fan of the team, and is friendly with his replacement Matt Ryan. It feels sad reading it, knowing that Vick’s time in Atlanta was cut short. Even though it was cut short for some terrible and senseless reasons that were entirely of his doing. You can feel the regret that he could not bring Atlanta their first Super Bowl win.
Now he’s ready to support the team while they hopefully bring home the Lombardi trophy.
Who was I? I was Mike Vick, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons. I was those five words. They were a part of me. They were … who I was. And so I think I just sort of developed this one blind spot, purely out of necessity, to keep my emotions in check. I was sorry — sorrier than I could ever express — for what I had done. I was prepared to serve my sentence, and to do so with dignity. I knew the millions of dollars that I had lost, and the value to my reputation that I had lost, and every day was a reminder of the freedom that I had lost. I knew all of that.
But in my mind, even from a prison cell, there was at least one thing I hadn’t lost: I was still the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
That was my job, on my team, in my city.
Vick was the biggest name in Atlanta for years, and was absolutely unable to give that up even in prison. He lost a number of things while in prison, including the job, his grandmother, and millions of dollars. He said he hit rock bottom, but never gave up the love for his city.
He described his time as quarterback as a moment in the city, and Atlanta residents at the time can agree. The Falcons weren’t always the best team on the field, but they were the most exciting. Atlanta supported Vick and the team everywhere.
And fans still supported him on his return to the Georgia Dome.
And, man: I barely even know what to say. Because it was so beautiful.
The lights were so bright — and I just let them wash over me. If I had gone blind, in that moment, then that would have been O.K.
The cheers were so loud — and I just let them pour into my ears. If I had gone deaf, in that moment, then that also would have been O.K.
And as we made our way further and further onto the field, it just got brighter, and brighter, and louder, and louder. I didn’t actually want to die, right then, in front of 70,000 people — but it was one of those moments where you’re thinking, You know what? I could die right here … and that would be O.K., too.
It was perfect.
Vick says on Sunday, he’s sending that support back to the team while they play the Super Bowl.