In July 2009, Michael Vick was released from federal custody after serving eighteen months of a twenty-three month sentence related to his involvement with a dog-fighting ring. Another eighteen months later, Vick's redemption continues at a remarkable rate.
The USA Today reported earlier that Vick had reached a two-year agreement to endorse the Unequal Technologies brand of football pads he wore for most of the past season. Normally, an announcement of such an endorsement deal is ignored by the media outside of a blurb or mention in a trade publication, but Vick's new deal is newsworthy because it's his first new endorsement since being released from prison. It's yet another step in Vick's image rehabilitation that started in 2009 when he signed a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick's 2010 season was a statistical wonder and a revelation. Here was a player who spent a year and a half in federal prison and hadn't played since the 2006 season not only picking up where he left off but actually showing improvement: becoming a better all-around player; becoming the complete, multi-talented, hyrbrid quarterback so many had hoped he would be while with the Falcons. The odds of this occuring are truly amazing when you think about it.
This Sunday, Michael Vick will start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Whether or not you're a fan of his, know this: he was convicted of his crime and served his sentence. He appears to have learned a valuable lesson and turned his life around, and somehow managed to become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, even while dealing with the stigma and consequences of his actions everyday. That's something everyone--not just sports fans--can appreciate.
It's not ordinary for a multi-millionaire athlete to be considered an underdog, but if there's one thing Michael Vick has never been or never been called by a critic, it's ordinary.