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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One evening, during the crossover portion of our radio shows, 94WIP’s Big Daddy Graham said something to me that stuck.
To paraphrase, Big Daddy told me that players don’t change in meaningful ways once they’re developed, and his example was a good one.
“Everyone always says ‘if this guy develops a jump shot, he’ll be a great player.’ Well who just develops a jump shot?” And as soon as the words “Michael Jordan,” were about to come out of my mouth, he continued. “Everyone always tells me Michael Jordan did. Well he’s the greatest basketball player of all time, most of the time it doesn’t happen.”
The topic came up because we were discussing Andy Reid. I asked him if it was possible if Andy Reid could make the necessary adjustments in who he is as a coach, to win the Super Bowl. He told me that Andy Reid is who Andy Reid is, it is not going to change, and therefore he is not capable of being the head coach on a Super Bowl champion.
So let’s take this theory, and apply it to Michael Vick.
There is (and has been) a discussion about whether Vick is capable of making fewer mental errors, take fewer risks, and make fewer costly mistakes that result in turnovers.
The Big Daddy Graham theory says, no, he is not. Michael Vick is who he is. There are many who agree with this. Vick is 32 years old, and will always play a certain way. That way is risky, too risky to win it all.
But those people are wrong, and in this case, the theory does not apply.
It is absolutely possible for Vick to become a better decision maker. It is possible for Vick to “get it,” and put himself, and his team, in a better position to win because of it.
Michael Vick has never had a problem with his physical ability to do anything. Yes he’s short, but he would not be the first short quarterback to succeed.
Michael Vick is not missing the football equivalent of a jump shot. What has been missing is the football equivalent of laying the ball up softly rather than dunking it with all of his might. He’s been missing the football equivalent of passing to the open man, trusting your teammate to make a shot.
Michael Vick’s problems have been a matter of maturity and decision making, which absolutely have the possibility of improving with age. That is not to say it’s definite, but certainly possible.
I’m 36 years-old. My decision making and maturity at my age are better than they were when I was 26 (though clearly not exemplary). They are better than they were at 30. With age, I’ve come to understand my limitations, weigh risk, and make better decisions both in work and in life.
He hasn’t thrown an interception in two games. In a couple of situations in the Eagles win over the Giants, Vick threw the ball away or took a sack in a situation where many of us expected him to do something, say, more risky. There is also something to be said for Andy Reid best understanding how to put Vick in better position to not make as many choices that would result in those sort of mistakes.
Vick has also shown an improvement in his decision making and risk taking in life itself. There’s no reason to believe that can’t happen within the game as well.
Michael Vick is who he is, but who he is at 32 is not who he was at 22. Maybe, just maybe, he is starting to understand that.