Remember how electric Michael Vick was when he was on the field for the Falcons? You’ve got a chance to see him do that once again this weekend, when he takes the field in the American Flag Football League semifinals on Saturday, July 7 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.
Vick got involved after a friend reached out to him about it around a year and a half ago. Once he was comfortable with the details, he was in.
“After meeting all the people involved and looking at the concept, then I just thought, why not give it a shot? And it’ll give me a chance to go out and continue to play football and throw the ball around a little bit without getting tackled,” Vick told The Falcoholic.
Flag football at its core obviously has similarities to 11-on-11 tackle football, but there are fundamental differences.
“I mean, I was taught to throw the ball down the field, convert on first, second, or third downs. In this league, lateral passes are something that you can do,” Vick said. “I think you have an opportunity to kind of just disperse the ball in different ways. So it’s a ton of different rules.”
But Vick still plans to keep it simple.
“Our offense is not going to be based around a whole bunch of gimmick plays,” Vick said. “I’m leaving it up to not changing the guys who have been doing it for a long time. I do know that you can lateral the ball, and you can rush the quarterback differently than what you can in 11-on-11, obviously. So just basic rules, just still football.”
For a player who just turned 38 in June, there’s one difference that’s especially appealing — no tackling.
“It’s a huge adjustment. It’s a great adjustment! Especially when you’re retired,” Vick said.
But Vick still has to be prepared to use the natural talent that made him one of the league’s most exciting players.
“With that, still got to train and still got to get in shape, because guys are going to be rushing. Guys are going to be gunning at your flag, so it’s important to be able to move,” Vick said. “As a mobile quarterback, I can use that to my advantage. So we’ll see how it plays out. I’m excited to go out and try to do some of the things that I did in the demo game and do it a little bit better.”
Flag football isn’t Vick’s only endeavor now that he’s retired. He had a guest star turn on FX’s Atlanta, in which Earn, Donald Glover’s character decides to challenge Vick to a race. It goes about how you’d expect it to if someone challenged Vick, who ran a 4.33 40 and has perpetually been known for his speed.
Vick enjoyed the experience.
“It was like shooting commercials. I’ve got plenty of experience doing that, so you know how it is. Action, cut, action, cut, action, cut until they get it right,” Vick said. “And it was fun just being on the set, getting a chance to meet different actors and people who are established in their own professions. It was really cool to get to know those people out there, and they embraced me, helped me out, helped me get through the part with flying colors and made it really quick and efficient.”
Until that episode aired, people really weren’t challenging Vick to races outside of bars. But now Vick might be able to turn this into a nice little post-retirement source of income.
“No, no, that was all a part of the show script,” Vick said. “But now, now people are trying to challenge me. So I think I could run a quick $30,000 or $40,000 a month for the next two, three years and make a good living racing people outside of clubs and bars.”
The circumstances that led to the Falcons cutting Vick and moving forward with Matt Ryan back in 2008 are all water under the bridge. Now Vick is a Falcons fan. But he doesn’t have a particular favorite player.
“I like the whole team. Every year you’ve got to watch everybody. I watch football as a whole, so I don’t have any favorites,” Vick said. “I mean, if I have to point out a guy, I would say Matt Ryan to Julio is always a great combination. And they’ve got guys in the run game that can produce as well. You’ve got Freeman and just a bunch of good guys who are exciting to watch.”
And Vick’s found reconciliation with the team that drafted him. He returned to the Georgia Dome and was honored at the half with other Falcons alumni in the final game ever played in that stadium in Week 17 of the 2016 season. The cheers were deafening as Vick took the field alongside Roddy White.
“Everything happens for a reason, and obviously you get the right people involved and you’ll be able to make it work,” Vick said. “And I’m just thankful for any opportunity that I get if it helps change the course of the way people think or the way people may look at me as an individual. So it was very gratifying. Those are moments that you don’t take for granted, and you thank the people that are involved.”
It’s been a while since Vick took the field in Atlanta, but you can buy tickets to watch him do exactly that against Chad Ochocinco’s team on Saturday evening. Tickets are $10, and they’re available via the AFFL website.