One of the biggest trends I have noticed in Bill Simmons' writing is his ability to use the proverbial "we" when talking about an athlete. Bill often says "we" thought this or "we" thought that when discussing an athlete. He tends to take what he believes, and because he has such a high amount of respect for his own opinion, will decide that everyone else thought this as well. He doesn't always sum up an athlete's legacy in terms of what he thought about that athlete, but feels the need to throw quite a few "we" statements in the article. Bill wants to talk about Mike Vick's legacy. So let's find out what we thought about the Mike Vick era.
Michael Vick's career is like football Play-Doh — an amorphous hunk that
you can shape however you want. You could craft a Vick-centric essay
about redemption just as easily as one about squandered potential.
I personally would go with an essay about redemption for a player who squandered his potential. That's just me. Bill is correct about this. There are several ways to view Mike Vick.
Even the process of drafting Vick was polarizing. When Vick declared for 2001's NFL draft after just two Virginia Tech seasons, Peter King wrote a Sports Illustrated piece
headlined "Risky Business," with the subhead "Snakebitten San Diego
will likely cast its lot with Michael Vick, who's making a perilous leap
from college sophomore to No. 1 pick in the NFL draft."
In a pure coincidence fellow Virginian Allen Iverson was on the cover of this issue. Both players are from Virginia and were fairly polarizing.
It's an uncanny piece to reread, like someone sneaked into SI's
Vault and updated the piece to foreshadow what happened. Certain experts
like Phil Simms, Bill Walsh and Steve Young openly worried about Vick's
lack of accuracy, lack of patience, lack of maturity, and his ability
to hold up physically throughout an NFL season.
Of course Bill Walsh liked Brian Griese the best out of all the players in this draft, so let's keep that in mind. This column also contains some money quotes about the 2001 draft like,
What's more, with the draft less than a week away, San Diego had not received a single trade offer for the top pick, so the club has opened contract negotiations with Vick. What's inhibiting the trade market is the fact that, after Vick, no one in the draft has much sizzle.
Naturally, the Chargers ended up trading the first pick and receiving two Hall of Fame players in return. So much for worrying about players with sizzle.
What's inhibiting the trade market is the fact that, after Vick, no one in the draft has much sizzle.
While true, this is a lesson as to why a team shouldn't just look for "sizzle." Here's a list of players who were available in this draft and ended up being Hall of Famers or very good players:
I'm even leaving a few players out who may deserve a mention, like Kris Jenkins/TJ Houshmandzadeh. So there wasn't much sizzle, but I count 3-4 Hall of Famers in there after the first pick.
The second player picked could be Gerard Warren, a defensive tackle from Florida who, arguably, would be the most unheralded No. 2 of all time.
And for good reason...he wasn't very good.
"The real question you have to ask yourself," says Simms, "is whether any person in this draft can change your franchise. There's one: Michael Vick."
Sorry Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson, Phil Simms no like you very much. Clearly you can see the expertise Simms now shows as CBS' top NFL analyst take shape in his analysis of the players in the 2001 draft that could change a franchise.
That leaves one question for the Chargers to investigate: What about Vick's personality, work ethic and desire?..Chargers quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson has spent more than two weeks on the Blacksburg campus, interviewing Vick and his coaches and teammates. "Mike's been there so much the whole athletic department calls him by his first name," Riley says. "He swears by Michael."
Mike Vick (and his teammates) admitted that many times with the Atlanta Falcons he was the last one to practice and the first one to leave practice. His work ethic wasn't always the best many times in Atlanta. Shockingly, the Virginia Tech coaches swore by Mike Vick and didn't mention any issues with his work ethic. College coaches standing by one of their athletes when it comes to evaluating their pro prospects, what crazy turn of events will happen next?
Back to Bill telling us what we thought about Mike Vick...
When Vick couldn't agree to contract terms with the Chargers, they
flipped that pick to Atlanta for the no. 5 and no. 67 picks, a 2002
second-rounder and receiver Tim Dwight, then rebuilt by using no. 5 on
LaDainian Tomlinson and a second-rounder on Purdue's Drew Brees. At the
time, we thought Atlanta fleeced the Chargers.
"We" actually didn't think this. I thought it was an even trade because I loved Drew Brees/Tomlinson and absolutely hated Mike Vick because I hated Virginia Tech. So my bias helped me end up being correct. I shouldn't be shocked that Bill with Bill's usage of "we" and how he believes his opinion represents the opinion of an entire group. After all, he does believe himself to be the voice of the fan and the Celtics/Patriots/Red Sox media representative. In fact, he is probably to blame for some of the Boston hatred in sports and Bill did want to be President of Red Sox Nation at one point as well.
I thought the Chargers did well in this trade because I hated Vick, but I guess I am learning that Bill knows I truly thought the Chargers got fleeced.
Within a few years, we thought San Diego fleeced the Falcons.
I am not sure I agree with this either. Of course Bill does know what "we" thought better than "we" do, so who am I to argue with him? Vick led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in 2004, the NFC Divisional Players in 2002, and brought the team a lot of attention during his time in Atlanta. I wouldn't say the Falcons got fleeced in this trade really.
Really, that was par for the course this century — thanks to sports
blogs, message boards, Internet columns, 24-hour radio stations,
talking-head shows, three-hour pregame shows and instant tweets, we've
entered something of an Instant Flip-Flop Era. It doesn't matter what
you thought, just what you think right now (and how swiftly and
aggressively you can express that opinion).
Who boldly helped lead us into this era with shows like "Around the Horn," "Cold Pizza/First Take," and by giving Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and other announcing columnists a forum? Bill's employer, ESPN. So Bill is basically commenting on a trade that his employer helped start. Thanks ESPN!
Take me, for example.
Bill has flip-flopped continuously on the subject of Mike Vick, but it isn't his fault because everyone was doing it. The proverbial "everyone" has flip-flopped on Mike Vick, so Bill is just following the crowd. This doesn't make Bill less credible or indicate that he changes his opinion with the tide of public opinion in a way that his opinion of Mike Vick should reflect negatively on him because everyone was doing it. So by lumping the entire sports-loving general public together into one group it means Bill wasn't ever wrong about Mike Vick. His ego stays intact and that's the important thing.
I probably changed my opinion on Vick 10 times, and only because Vick's ceiling dramatically dwarfed the actual results.
It isn't Bill's fault he changed his opinion on Vick, it is the fault of Vick's ceiling. Plus we live in an age where everyone changes their mind constantly on every sports topic. Bill can't emphasize this enough, but his flip-flopping on the subject of Mike Vick is not his fault nor does it reflect poorly on Bill in any way. Bill is the official voice of the fan and because he changed his mind on Mike Vick that means everyone else did too. After all, how can the guy who believes he speaks for every sports fan be wrong? What Bill believes, everyone believes. His ego can't accept the alternative that he truly doesn't speak for the entire sports-loving world and his SimmonsClones are glad to uphold him as their leader because they treat him with a cult-like form of respect.
Two years ago, a reader e-mailed that a friend had texted during a
Giants game, "Michael Vick is Michael Vicking. If you turned off the
Eagles game, turn it back on now." The reader added, "That's all it took
for us to switch the channel in time to see a ridiculous comeback. What
other athletes could have their name turn into a verb?"
One of Bill's readers says Vick was "Michael Vicking" and now this observation has turned into an example which supports Bill's argument that no other athlete could have their name turned into a verb...which isn't even accurate.
Tim Tebow? Remember "Tebowing?"
Robert Griffin? There was a "Griffining" trend earlier in the year.
Any time Tony Romo does something negative in a game, you read a bunch of Tweets that say something to the effect of "That's so Romo."
I am sure there are other examples, but I try not to analyze the words of SimmonsClones too much. The relationship between Bill and his SimmonsClones is such a co-dependent relationship. They think he is very creative and funny, so they tell him that in an effort to get recognition in the mailbag of ESPN's most popular columnist, while Bill sees how these people worship him and it feeds his ego and reminds him that he is indeed the funniest, most creative guy in the room at all times...which simply reinforces what his ego already tells him. His SimmonsClones get recognition and attention from Bill Simmons, while Bill Simmons gets his ego massaged by followers who worship his every move.
You used the word "if" with him more than most.
Oh, I did? I didn't know I did that. Thanks for knowing me better than I know myself. Actually, thanks for knowing a million people better than they knew themselves.
Because of his prodigious athletic gifts, we judged Vick by a higher
standard — like we did with Barry Sanders before him, or even Josh
Hamilton and Russell Westbrook right now.
Oh, I guess "we" did do that didn't we? Or did "we" do that? I simply wanted Vick to be more accurate in passing the football and if that is judging him by a higher standard than consider me guilty. Since Bill knows me better than I know me I guess I don't judge any quarterbacks other than Vick on their accuracy.
After a profoundly unhappy 2006 season marred by a bizarre airport
incident — Vick tossing away a water bottle that had a secret marijuana
compartment in it — everyone acknowledged that something had gone drastically wrong.
Everyone acknowledged this. Everyone.
We had no way of knowing one of the worst sports scandals ever was looming.
Well, this "we" is probably fairly accurate. I give Bill no credit for using "we" here since he uses it through this entire column though.
Either you considered him a game-breaking, franchise-altering talent or (waving hands robotically) someone who cannot help you contend consistently in the National Football League.
Oh, thanks for telling me. I didn't know I had to fall into one of those two groups. Thanks for clearing that up for me about the fact I fell into one of two groups. And here I was under the mistaken impression in my brain that I really thought Mike Vick was a franchise-altering talent who didn't have the work ethic or accuracy to ever achieve the potential I thought he could reach, but he could have games where he would be the best NFL quarterback in the NFL and games where is lack of accuracy and bad decision-making would hurt his team. I guess I didn't think that. I'm learning so much about me today.
Race hovered over Vick's career more than we ever wanted to admit.
What? Mind. Blown. I've never read this angle before. Next thing you will know Bill will tell us race affected how Allen Iverson was perceived.
Fellow Newport News native Allen Iverson pushed similar boundaries in
the NBA, where certain fans struggled to identify with an African
American iconoclast who covered himself in tattoos (a radical look in
the late 1990s), braided his hair (that too) and carried himself so
defiantly during games.
Bill, I just want to say that "we" think this is brilliant insight. Everyone does.
You know what happened next: Vick's life turned into a walking 30 for 30 episode.
So this is a Bill Simmons pop culture reference referring to a series of sports documentaries that Bill himself helped to create. Is this the same as a humblebrag or is this just a self-referential pop culture reference. Either way, I like the way Bill creates brand synergy. I'm just surprised this sentence isn't sponsored by Subway.
But what if that porous Saints defense gets Vick going? Would you rule it out? The reason Reid should definitely start Foles is the same reason Vick might save his career. He might throw for three scores and run for two more.
It turns out Vick completed 53.7% of his passes, threw for 272 yards with a touchdown pass and threw an interception.
What will this mean? What will you say to yourself as Vick limps off the
field, still untwisting his skinny body from the two 275-pound guys who
fell on him? Was he not nearly good as we thought? Was he better than
we thought? Was he both?
What's with Bill and his need over the past few months to eulogize a player's career? He did this with LaDainian Tomlinson and now he is doing it with Mike Vick.
I don't know what "we" will say. Perhaps since Bill knows what everyone is thinking he can just go ahead and tell me what I will be thinking. I think I know what I will be thinking. I will be thinking that Mike Vick was a game-changing player who committed too many turnovers and wasn't always accurate enough to be the quarterback I thought he could be. I just hope what Bill knows I think is the same thing as I think I think.
Before you answer that question, just for the hell of it, here are 20 things you may or may not know about Michael Vick:
6. Vick's career passer rating? 80.7 … good for 53rd all time. And yet,
18 current starting QBs have a higher career QB rating than 80.7,
including Matt Hasselbeck (82.3), Josh Freeman (81.1) and Matt Cassel
Passer rating is a flawed system in some ways. I'm just happy Bill didn't use Total QBR as part of ESPN's attempt to create new statistics they want us to use, even though it's sort of a mystery how ESPN calculates Total QBR.
11. Vick never threw for 3,000 yards during an Atlanta season. Which seems inconceivable until you remember …
12. Vick's leading Atlanta receivers by season: Brian Finneran (2002:
838 yards, 6 TDs), Peerless Price (2003: 838 yards, 3 TDs), Alge
Crumpler (2004: 774 yards, 8 TDs), Crumpler (2005: 877 yards, 5 TDs) and
Crumpler (2006: 780 yards, 8 TDs). In 2010, DeSean Jackson (1,056
yards, 6 TDs) and Jeremy Maclin (964 yards, 10 TDs) were the best
receiving targets Michael Vick has EVER had.
There is a somewhat symbiotic relationship between a quarterback and his receivers. They can work to make each other better or worse. Considering Vick had a completion percentage of 53.8% in Atlanta, I would venture to say it wasn't completely the fault of Falcons receivers they didn't put up better numbers. Granted, Vick wasn't blessed with great receivers, but a quarterback can make his receivers look better by being accurate with his passes. It's no coincidence a guy like Jacob Tamme has had his two best seasons with Peyton Manning throwing him the football. I get Bill's point, though I would add Jackson had his best year receiving in 2009 when Vick wasn't his quarterback and both Jackson and Maclin didn't play as well in 2011 with Vick as the quarterback. Vick never had great receivers prior to Jackson/Maclin, but a great quarterback can make his receivers better by being accurate.
14. Those 19,735 career yards rank him 97th overall, less than Jay
Cutler, Aaron Brooks, Gus Frerotte, Bobby Hebert and Jake Delhomme, and a
few thousand yards less than Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe, Jeff Garcia and
I understand these numbers and their purpose, but Vick wasn't really a passing quarterback like these guys were. Vick could pass the football, but his running ability is what set him apart. So it doesn't shock me he isn't high on the career passing yards list.
17. Of everyone since 1960, Vick ranks 87th
in "Game-Winning Drives" with 14, trailing the likes of Jeff Blake
(16), Hebert (16), David Garrard (18), O'Donnell (19), Jon Kitna (22)
and Jake Delhomme (25).
19. Just for fun …
Delhomme: 96 career starts, 56-40 record, 81.3 QB rating, 20,975
passing yards, 126 TDs, 101 INTs, 5-3 playoff record, 1 Super Bowl
Vick: 99 starts, 56-41-1 record, 80.7 QB rating, 19,375 passing
yards, 120 passing TDs, 80 INTs, 2-3 playoff record, 0 Super Bowl
I actually made a comparison like this a few years ago when I was having an argument with a friend over how Mike Vick was more glitz than substance. This comparison shows me what I already figured. Both quarterbacks were mistake-prone, but when it came down to it, their core numbers weren't that different. It is important to remember that Vick is only 32 years old so if he starts or plays for another couple of years he will probably surpass Delhomme in terms of passing yardage and touchdown passes. Still, at 99 starts his numbers are similar to Jake Delhomme, but Vick is considered much more of an exciting player than Delhomme was. The glitz and ability of Vick running with the football is what sets him apart from Delhomme.
20. In Vick's two playoff wins, he threw for 199 yards combined. Michael
Vick hasn't won a playoff game since January 15, 2005, the same month
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston separated.
And we all know the only effective way to measure time is through the Pitt-Aniston method of time measurement. Personally, I chart all sports accomplishments based on what Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's relationship was like at that time.
So it's all a matter of perception. Comparing him to other no. 1 overall
picks, he comes off surprisingly well: If you made a list of the
top-five picks from 1986 through 2010, Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, Eli
Manning and Drew Bledsoe would be the first four (in that order), but
Vick might actually beat Orlando Pace, Keyshawn Johnson, Vinny
Testaverde, Matt Stafford and Jake Long for the fifth spot.
No, Mike Vick would not beat Orlando Pace for a place on this list. Orlando Pace is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. So no, I wouldn't think Vick beats Pace at all.
Vick also accomplished something relatively dubious that remains
somewhat amazing: spending nearly two years in jail, not starting a
professional football game for four solid years, then shaking off the
rust for his greatest season. When will we see THAT again?
We will probably never see that specific situation again. In fact, Mike Vick didn't even do this. He started 16 games during the 2006 season and started during the first game of the 2010 season. By my calculations he didn't start an NFL game for three entire seasons, which isn't four years. To be more precise, though I won't use the Pitt-Aniston calculation of time measurement so you can feel free to question my methods, Vick's last start in 2006 was on December 31, 2006. His next start was on September 12, 2010. That is not four solid years. I'm nitpicking, but that span between starts is less than four years and Vick was in the NFL and throwing passes in regular season games during the 2009 season. His 2010 season was great, but Bill is exaggerating a little bit.
I loved the symmetry of Robert Griffin III entering the NFL during the same season as Vick's possible farewell,
This isn't necessarily Vick's farewell season. He will at least be a backup somewhere. Bill seems to be trying to reach for a contrived storyline.
a mulligan of sorts for everything we ever loved about Vick.
Back when I played Madden seasons, I always played the Patriots —
always, always, without fail — except for one time in 2004 when I
couldn't resist playing one Falcons season. I wanted to be Michael Vick.
And it was like opening up a whole new world. You could throw the ball
60 yards, run like the wind, escape four defenders at once, save any
play. You were never out of the game. You could score from anywhere on
the field. I remember playing six or seven Falcons games and putting up
absolutely outrageous Vick stats —
If no one cares to hear about another person's fantasy team, then people care even less to hear about how another person's game of "Madden" went or what happened while playing a game of "Madden."
After the game, they told me Video Mike was out for the year. I sulked
for about 20 seconds, eventually pressing the RESET button and
pretending the game never happened.
Thanks for updating us on a "Madden" season that you played eight years ago. I can't fathom why Bill believes (a) a video game should have any relevance on how Mike Vick will be considered as an NFL player or (b) why Bill believes we care about the results of the video game he played eight years ago.
You're probably wondering why I remember something this mundane,
Because for some reason you equate a player's video game legacy to his legacy on the football field? Because you are truly ridiculous enough to believe a player can be judged in real life on his exploits when you control that player on a video game?
here's the answer: You always remember being immortal, even when it
Here's another answer: This makes not of sense.
And no, the real Vick doesn't get a RESET button on Monday.
What a way to circle back and make a valiant attempt at a deep thought. Rick Reilly would be impressed.
"And yes, while Vick has spent part of his life torturing dogs as part of his legacy, maybe these dogs can be a part of the redemption Vick never had because of our own out-sized expectations for him."
Like everything else that happened during the Michael Vick era, you will
be prepared for anything and everything. Maybe it's not the greatest
legacy, but it's something.
One thing I dislike about a Bill Simmons attempt at a serious column is that he can't help but include some sense of vapidness when trying to be serious. As part of his "I'm now being serious about Vick's legacy" portion of the column, he includes observations about Vick as it pertains to video games. This is just like when he was eulogizing LaDainian Tomlinson, he couldn't help but factor in Tomlinson's fantasy football numbers as if they were apart of his NFL legacy. It's like he can't help but include some sense of stupid reasoning into what he writes.
This column has been updated.
Of course we don't know what exactly was updated, but that shouldn't shock us. Just like how Bill won't allow comments on his columns, Bill can't ruin the illusion he is always correct.