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Spike Eskin: Michael Vick, Almost, And The Extra Inch

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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I had almost forgotten what Eagles season was like around here. A mere three seconds after the end of Sunday’s game against the Browns, I remembered very clearly.

Scratch that.

About three seconds into the game against the Browns, I remembered very clearly. It’s a lot of fun, but we sure are crazy.

As usual, we’re in the process of taking every single moment of that 17-16 win, and blowing it way out of proportion. I’m part of it, we all are, and that’s fine.

It’s the way we’ve taken to criticizing one particular moment, I’m going to take issue with.

When talking about the Eagles final, touchdown scoring drive to win the game, Michael Vick accounted for 78 of the 91 yards the team gained, including the scoring pass to Clay Harbor. I’ve chosen, while including to criticize Vick for his three and a half quarters of bad play, to give Vick credit for the final drive. The kind of clutch drive we’ve always wanted our quarterback to lead, while exhibiting an obvious desire come through for the team in a tough spot. Michael Vick’s mindset appeared to be, “I’m not going to let us lose.

What people continue to qualify the drive with is, “well, he threw a pass that should have been intercepted by L.J. Fort.”

My response is, “who cares?”

The difference between winning and losing is always almost or should have. Sports, championships, are always a matter of things that almost happened. It’s a cliche to say that any sport is a “game of inches,” but it’s a cliche that rings true.

If Vince Carter’s last second jumper against the Sixers was one inch shorter, Allen Iverson would have never stepped over Tyronn Lue in the finals. Carter almost made that shot.

Eli Manning will always be a Super Bowl champion quarterback, even though it took a miracle catch by David Tyree. He almost didn’t catch it.

Don’t even ask about what a few feet would have done for the lives of Scott Norwood, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas. Almost a Super Bowl.

January 9th, 2011: Riley Cooper does not knock the ball away from Travon Williams. Aaron Rodgers took the extra inch and won a Super Bowl.

There are a million of these moments every game, a billion of them every season. At the end of the season, if Michael Vick has 28 TD passes and 13 INT’s, that’s what the number will be. He will miss out on touchdowns by an inch, and miss out on interceptions by an inch.

What defines greatness is what you do when you get the advantage of the extra inch. Manning took that inch that Tyree granted him and took it to the end zone. Iverson took that inch that Carter gave him and took it all the way to Los Angeles. Think about this; when we remember the careers of Vince Carter and Allen Iverson, we will think of them in a lot of ways as opposites, and perhaps it was just because of one inch.

Michael Vick almost threw an interception on Sunday. But he didn’t, and that’s all that matters.

Michael Vick’s season, career, and greatness will be determined by what he does with that inch he got.