By GLENN MINNIS
Even through all his self-inflicted setbacks and in the face of his NFL mortality, Michael Vick knows his worth.
"I revolutionized the game," Vick told ESPN in no uncertain terms of his unmatched mobility. "I was the guy who started it all. I changed the way it was played in the NFL."
Granted, Vick's level of modesty may need as much retooling as the offense he and Rex Ryan are painstakingly seeking to craft in New York, but the 11-year vet does speak the truth. Take your pick of Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and even Johnny Manziel and know that more than likely none of them would be without the evolution of one Michael Dwayne Vick.
"The things I've done, I've pretty much surpassed myself and expectations," added Vick, with no apparent disrespect meant to the likes of Fran Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, and Steve Young.
But in the end, the truth is the truth, no matter how brutal it may be. And being the all-time leading rusher from the quarterback position (5,857 yards) and top rusher in average yards per carry from that same spot (7.1) lets you know the man who arguably lost what should have been his most productive years to a prison sentence for running a dog-fighting ring has done it in a way no one preceding him ever did.
These days, the soon-to-be 34-year-old Vick is largely spending his days pondering who he may have been and what stands make people a bit more accepting of him in the here and now.
Within days of signing his one-year deal with the Jets, Vick was blitzed by angry petitioners outside the Jets' Cortland, New York training facility still angry over his dog-fighting ways and seeking to run him out of their town before he could so much as gain a footing.
Vick took it all in stride, insisting all the criticism now means little to him, yet in the same breath you clearly hear how much he truly seeks redemption in the eyes of those that would be his new fans and across all of NFL Nation as a whole.
"My life has nothing to do with their life and their beliefs," he said. "I mean, what's done is done. Look at all the good. My message to them is, look at the good I've done, all the thousands of lives that I've saved, the people I've saved. That's most important. That's what the focus should be on, the lives that are being affected."
Much of that good, derives from the Team Vick charitable foundation for at-risk youth he now runs, which prides itself on striving to "bridge the gap between donors and communities," promoting hope and changing the quality of life for those residing in some of the country's most economically depressed neighborhoods.
Imagine that, after all those Sunday evenings of running for his life from the likes of Ray Lewis to Warren Sapp to Robert Mathis, Michael Vick is now running something that has the reach to positively influence and impact the lives of countless others.
Now that's change to believe in.
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