Michael Vick was once the most electrifying player in the NFL. When he was the starting quarterback for the Falcons from 2002-2006, there wasn’t a player in the league that could do what he did with his combination of speed, agility and arm talent.
Vick changed the NFL and then, in the midst of his prime, he was gone to serve two years in prison for the terrible acts of animal cruelty for his role in a dog fighting ring. He returned in 2009 with the Eagles, where he spent five seasons before a year with the Jets and a year with the Steelers, but never quite regained the magic he had in Atlanta.
Vick hasn’t been in the NFL since 2015 and officially announced his retirement on Friday. His career will be one we look back on with awe for the things he did on the field, anger for what he did to those dogs and the permanent question of “what if” had he not spent three full years out of the league.
For someone growing up in Atlanta at the time as I was, Vick was a legend. In real life, he did things we’d never seen in the NFL and he also happens to be the most dominant football video game character of all-time (Madden 04). Here’s a quick look back at his five most electrifying moments from his NFL career.
5. The Slide Spin
This always amazed me. The amount of athleticism it takes to do this is something I’ll never possess or even be able to imagine.
4. Running the Saints
In Atlanta, there is nothing that will endear you to fans faster than beating the Saints, much less embarrassing them. Vick was already a legend, but every time he made a Saint look silly it made him even more beloved in Atlanta.
3. Monday night 88-yard touchdown throw against Washington
Sometimes it gets lost in a discussion of his incredible running ability, but Vick had an absolute cannon for an arm. This play, which opened the game in 2010 against Washington when he was with the Eagles, was one of the best examples of that insane arm strength.
2. 2002 Playoff win in Green Bay
You can watch the full game here or get the highlights here, but this was his most legendary game performance as he became the first quarterback to beat the Packers in Lambeau Field in the postseason. Vick was a monster, and this was the sign that the Falcons could be legitimately good and not just fun with him as the quarterback.
1. “The Run” in Minnesota
This is the iconic Vick moment, as he splits the two Vikings defenders, causing them to collide as he coasts into the end zone for the game-winner in overtime. When you think of Vick the football player, this is the first thing that comes to mind.