Tag:Michael Vick
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 10:41 pm

Lewis on Brady: 'one of the greatest of all time'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We joked earlier that if you're weary of the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning arguments, you could refocus your energies into deciding if Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg knows what he's talking about when he says that Michael Vick could be better than Steve Young.

Well, it seems there's no escaping Brady-Manning. NFL Network finally unveiled the No. 1 player in their countdown of the top 100, and Brady was the big winner. (In related news, Dhani Jones has asked for a recount.) Manning, of course, was No. 2.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who ended up fourth on the list, on why Brady was deserving of the honor:

“He’s not the biggest. He was never the strongest. He was never the fastest. He was overlooked. He went in the sixth round. So with that being said, all of the intangibles that a quarterback is supposed to have, they overlooked with him because it was burning from the inside of him. ...

“It’s a chess match because he understands every coverage, he understands every defense. And if you give it away too early, then the game is like checkers then for him. He plays it how he wants to play it. … And that’s what makes it frustrating playing against him; he always finds those mismatches. … You don’t find too many people playing (who are) willing to sacrifice that much time to do that. That’s why Tom Brady will always be considered one of the greatest of all time.”

Football Outsiders agrees with Lewis. Looking at the last five years of FO's quarterback efficiency ratings, Brady ranked fifth in 2006, and first in 2007, 2009 and 2010 (Brady missed all but 15 minutes of the 2008 season with a knee injury). Manning ranked first in '06 and second every season from '07-'10 (which includes '08, when Drew Brees was first).

So it's finally settled … except that Lewis' teammate Derrick Mason thinks that a) Peyton is "hands down" the NFL's best player and that b) Joe Flacco is the Ravens' "Michael Jordan."

We're still waiting to hear what Terrell Suggs thinks about all this.

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 8:23 pm

Mornhinweg: Vick can be better than Young

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If you've grown tired of the Brady-Manning debates, here's one you probably never (ever ever) considered: Steve Young vs. Michael Vick. Sounds preposterous, right?

Well, Vick's offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, Marty Mornhinweg, made the comparison recently, and the man knows a few things about NFL quarterbacks. He coached Brett Favre in 1996 (Super Bowl), Young in 1997 and 1998 (last Pro Bowl seasons), Jeff Garcia in 2000 (Pro Bowl), Donovan McNabb from 2004-2009 (he had his five best passing seasons), and Vick last season (Pro Bowl).

Which brings us back to Young and Vick.

"Here was a man (in Vick) who hasn't played for a couple of years," Mornhinweg said. "However, if he did it the right way, I thought he could be a Steve Young-type player … Mike's got a long way to go, but, you know what? I think he can be better than Steve."

We know what you're thinking. "This is the same guy who won the overtime coin toss and elected to kickoff instead of receive, right?" Yes. But we're blaming Lions president Matt Millen. His mismanagement style was infectious; at just about every other stop Mornhinweg has been successful. And it's for that reason that we shouldn't summarily dismiss him when he talks about Vick in the same breath as Young, a Hall of Famer.

PFT.com's Michael David Smith makes a good point. "Asking Vick to be a better quarterback than Young is a tall order. …However, there are a lot of similarities between Vick and Young. They’re both mobile left-handed quarterbacks playing in similar offensive systems. And Young didn’t become the 49ers’ quarterback until he was 30 years old — the same age Vick was last year."

The Philadelphia News' Marcus Hayes writes that Vick had a passer rating of 100.2 last season under Mornhinweg. That was good for fourth in the league. As an NFL starter with the Falcons, Vick never had a passer rating above 81.6.

Whether the rest of Vick's career will mirror Young's is a story that has yet to be written, but there's no disputing that 2010 was Vick's best NFL season. Pretty sure nobody saw that coming, either.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:31 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 2:44 pm

Report: Michael Vick, Nike strike deal ... again

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Michael Vick's football career is inextricably linked to the dogfighting charges that landed him in prison for 21 months in December 2007. He returned to football with the Eagles in 2009, and last season Vick was again one of the most explosive players in the league, leading Philadelphia to the postseason.

Now the man who was once the most recognizable face in the NFL only to lose it all while serving time has landed an endorsement deal with Nike -- again, CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reports. "CNBC has learned that, in a remarkable move, Nike, which severed Vick’s contract in 2007 after he admitted to his involvement in a dogfighting ring, has re-signed the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback."

Vick's agent Joel Segal told CNBC that “Michael is excited to have a long-term and strong relationship with Nike.” And Nike spokesman Derek Kent said “Michael acknowledges his past mistakes. We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.”

More background via Rovell:
It is believed to be the first time in the history of sports marketing that a brand that dumped an athlete came back to re-sign him. Coca-Cola let Kobe Bryant’s contract expire in 2003, after he was charged with sexual assault; the criminal case was dropped, and the civil case was settled. Coca-Cola eventually hired Bryant back in 2008 to endorse its Vitamin Water brand. …

After a great season on the field in 2010, corporate America started to give him a chance again. Unequal Technologies, which was making Vick his protective gear to go under his jersey, signed him to a two-year endorsement deal in January. Two months later, Vick signed a deal with Core Synergy, a titanium-infused, silicone wristband brand. At the end of the season, Vick's No. 7 Eagles jersey was the sixth most popular in the league.
Vick has done and said all the right things since returning to football, and more importantly, he's appeared sincere while doing so.

We dug up two of Vick's most popular Nike commercials, before dogfighting temporarily derailed his career and landed him behind bars. It's hard to believe that these spots are from 2006 and 2007.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 29, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:28 am

Eagles might be good fit for Vince Young

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Five years ago, Vince Young was coming off a national championship performance with Texas, and the Titans had just taken him with the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

A lot has happened since then.

Once the lockout ends, so too will Young's tenure in Tennessee. Where he ends up remains unclear. Partly because NFL teams aren't officially permitted to comment on other teams' players, but mostly because the rumor mill has been quiet on Young's future (which hasn't been the case for every veteran free agent quarterback -- see here, here, here and here, for examples).

So far, we've heard new Titans coach Mike Munchak say Young won't be back, and the Vikings and Dolphins are either not interested or have concerns about his attitude. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his abilities as an NFL quarterback.

Which brings us to NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan. He has some thoughts on which situation could be mutually beneficial for Young and the team who lands him.

“I’ve felt, all along, that Young needs a year to disappear and not be stuck in a lineup on a bad team where he would struggle,” Kirwan said Tuesday. “To me, the best place for him to go is Philadelphia once Kevin Kolb is traded. Let’s see if Michael Vick’s newfound preparation skills will rub off on Young.”

To be fair, most players in untenable situations would benefit from not being "stuck in a lineup on a bad team where they would struggle." That's why Young was drafted third overall -- to be a franchise quarterback. It's a lot easier to be that guy when you're surrounded by a bunch of Pro Bowlers; it's a little tougher to do it on an awful team.

But scouting is an inexact science; in retrospect, Young probably shouldn't have been a top-10 selection (or maybe even a first-round pick). That doesn't mean he's destined to the life of a backup (though he could be), just that he's yet to prove that he's a full-time NFL starter. Maybe sitting behind Vick would serve him well. Or maybe Young would be unhappy in that role, just like he was unhappy behind Kerry Collins in Tennessee.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, there are a few things to sort out. First, the lockout needs to end. We appear to be heading in the right direction on that front. Next, the Eagles need to trade Kolb (the latest report is that Philly wants players, not draft picks for Kolb). Then, if Philly thought Young could be a good fit in their system, they'd have to sign him.

That makes for a lot of "ifs" but, ultimately, how Vince Young's NFL career plays out will be up to -- you guessed it -- Vince Young. 

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 9:04 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 12:04 pm

McNabb works out with Eagles

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It seems pretty clear Redskins QB Donovan McNabb will not be playing football in Washington in 2011. I think that’s something most of us will agree with, although that didn’t stop McNabb from saying next year is going to be a “special season” (where that "special season" will happen, nobody knows).

McNabb's nightmare year
So, it might have raised some eyebrows when CSN Washington reported McNabb worked out with his former Eagles teammates Wednesday morning.

“I’m just working out right now,” McNabb said. “As you can see, I’m in some great shape, and I’m only going to get better.”

But in case you were thinking McNabb might return to Philadelphia -- despite Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb (for now) already 1-2 on the depth chart (it’d be tough to have a “special season” when you’re the quarterback who is never activated on game day) -- think again. McNabb’s workout Wednesday was simply a workout of convenience.

Apparently, McNabb was in town for a charity event, and since he was already in the neighborhood, he decided to drop by, do some agility drills and toss around the medicine ball.

“I’m just focused on working out,” McNabb said. “It’s what I do in the offseason.”

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:46 pm

Why Tiki to the Steelers doesn't make sense

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The three most talked about players in recent weeks -- Terrelle Pryor, Plaxico Burress and now Tiki Barber -- combined for exactly zero yards, zero touchdowns and zero games played last NFL season. Or the one before that. In fact, only Burress has seen an NFL field at all since 2007; Barber retired in 2006, and Pryor was in college until he had a sudden change of heart earlier this month.

All three are looking to get (back) into the league, and all appear to face long odds. To varying degrees, they come with baggage, and Burress and Barber are on the wrong side of 30. Our focus here is on Barber since Sports Illustrated's Peter King mentioned him in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Specifically, King spins the Wheel of Educated Guesses on possible Barber landing spots this summer, and it came up Pittsburgh.

Let's breakdown King's reasoning line by line:

"The Steelers have a head coach the Barber family knows well -- Mike Tomlin is close to twin Ronde Barber after coaching him in Tampa from 2001 to 2005 and also knows Tiki."

Tomlin also knows Michael Vick well; they both grew up in Newport News, Va. And you know what? When Vick was released from prison and was mounting a return to the NFL, the media connected the dots, and rumors of a Tomlin-Vick reunion followed. Vick eventually signed with the Eagles.

In August 2009, Tomlin told NFL Network's Deion Sanders why the Steelers didn't pursue Vick.

"I spent some time with Mike this summer. Mike's from my hometown, I've known Mike a long time," Tomlin said. "It was bigger than business for me. There were gangs and so forth when I grew up there, but when you played ball, you played ball. It was different. They respected what you did, and you kept it moving.

"Where we're from now gangsters play ball," he continued. "I believe that his redemption and his second opportunity is pivotal for those young guys from my area to see a guy come through the other side and make it right.

"In terms of [the Steelers being interested in Vick], to be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention. So it just wasn't the appropriate time for us to consider something of that nature."

At the time, there were plenty of skeptics; Vick had been an inconsistent quarterback before the stint in Leavenworth, and the thinking went that his best chance at NFL redemption might come with a position change -- maybe running back, wide receiver or wildcat specialist.

Instead, Vick waited his turn and when he finally got on the field, he seized the opportunity, played out of his mind and led the Eagles to the playoffs. But Vick was also just 30 last season; he still possessed the physical skills that made him one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks before dogs and the legal system led to his downfall.

"Tomlin wouldn't be afraid of the sideshow Tiki Barber might create, nor would he be shy about pulling the plug if the 36-year-old back couldn't beat out the likes of Mewelde Moore."

That's exactly what Tomlin would be afraid of. Referring again to Tomlin's 2009 conversation with Sanders about Vick: "…[T]o be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention." It sounds like there's only so much "support and undivided attention" to go around.

And while the Steelers have had their share of distractions in recent years -- from Ben Roethlisberger twice being accused of sexual assault to James Harrison's $100,000 in fines last season to the more benign Jeff Reed duking it out with a Sheetz bathroom towel dispenser -- that doesn't mean the organization welcomes it. It's hard to tell sometimes, but they're not running a halfway house.

(Remember: Santonio Holmes -- the Super Bowl XLIII MVP -- was shipped out of town for several drug-related incidents, including an impending four-game suspension. No one thought the fifth-round pick the Steelers got from the Jets for Holmes was fair value, but the organization had run out of patience with the mercurial wide receiver.)

Putting aside the media circus Barber would bring with him to Latrobe, Pa., there's a bigger concern: He's 36. When Barber called it quits after the 2006 season, he was one of the best running backs in the league. But as we've written several times lately, running backs are among the easiest positions to replace. There's no reason to spend large chunks of the salary cap (or use high draft picks) to get a back when equivalent talent can usually be found on the cheap.

Any team willing to give Barber a shot would probably give him a contract offering the league minimum. But at 36, Barber has, what, a year, maybe two years left? That means clearing a spot on the 53-man roster, one previously occupied by a young, low-cost back being groomed for a larger role down the road. Instead, the Steelers get Barber, who's closer to 40 than 30, and hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly five years. It doesn't make sense.

For fun, we looked back the past 15 years at the RBs who were at least 35 years old and played in the NFL.

Not surprisingly, it's populated with fullbacks who made their living as glorified offensive lineman and weren't relied on to actually carry the ball. Of the 12 players listed, none cracked 1,000 rushing yards for a season, and when we look only at true running backs, we're left with five names: Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers and Hershel Walker.

Of these, only Allen was productive after the age of 35. (In fact, from age 35 to 37, Allen was a top-5 back, according to Football Outsiders. That's mind-blowing, frankly.)

In 2004, Smith ran for 937 yards, but compared to the other RBs in the league, he was well below average. Football Outsiders ranked him next to last among all RBs that season, ahead of the Bears' Anthony Thomas.

So even if Tomlin has a relationship with Barber and thinks he can handle the media scrutiny, the bottom line (because the NFL is a business, after all) remains the same: can Tiki produce?

History says no, unless you think Barber is the next coming of Marcus Allen. We do not.

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in. The Steelers have a good back, Rashard Mendenhall, but no back-of-the-future type who Barber would be robbing playing time from. And one NFL source tells me Barber really wants a shot to play in Pittsburgh.

We have no doubt that Barber wants to play in Pittsburgh. NFL Network's Albert Breer hears that Barber wouldn't mind suiting it up in New England, either.

Regarding Pittsburgh's "core of veteran stars," why would Tiki "fit right in," as King suggests? Here's what CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last month, after Barber compared himself to Anne Frank:

"I covered Barber for most of his career and he remains one of the most versatile backs I've seen. He was also among the most arrogant. Most Giants players hated Barber. I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers."

The Patriots have a history of taking flyers on guys with character concerns (Corey Dillon and Randy Moss immediately come to mind), but that's not the Steelers' M.O.

But maybe this time is different. Maybe Tomlin makes an exception for Barber, who admitted that depression led him back to football after he couldn't deal with losing his $2 million-a-year gig with NBC. Now, he wants another shot at NFL glory.

Still, we can't get past Barber sounding as if he's coming out of retirement for all the wrong reasons. And even though he's not the type of player the organization usually pursues in free agency, perhaps the Rooneys will have a sudden change of heart. We just wouldn't count on it. Since, you know, the Steelers said months ago that they weren't interested.

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Posted on: June 19, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: June 19, 2011 5:30 pm

Depression led Tiki Barber to NFL comeback

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Ronde and Tiki Barber are twin brothers. Ronde, a cornerback with the Buccaneers for 14 seasons, has quietly plodded along, often playing at a Pro Bowl level. Tiki's 10-year career with the Giants, on the other hand, was as much about him letting you know he was the smartest guy in the room as it was about his on-field production.

Tiki retired in 2006 to take a job with NBC, where he appeared to be on the fast track to the Today Show. He wasted little time taking shots at his former team, which became all the more ironic when the Giants won the Super Bowl a year after Tiki retired.

But it wasn't long before Tiki's world began to crumble around him. In April 2010, he left his eight-months-pregnant wife for a 20-something former NBC intern, and a few months later NBC decided not to renew his Football Night in America contract.

Then, in March 2011, Tiki announced he was un-retiring from football, which given the way he left the game, made everyone think he probably needed the money.

Well, it turns out that recent events in Barber's life have left him battling depression, and he needs football to lift him out of the doldrums. According to the Associated Press, Barber said he was unable to deal with losing his $2 million per year job with NBC.

In an interview with HBO set to air Tuesday, Barber says, "I remember there were days where I would literally wake up, have coffee, get something to eat and sit on the couch and do nothing for 10 hours. I started to shrivel. I didn't have that confidence. I didn't have the, that aura anymore."

Barber also speaks publicly about his marriage, saying that, "It was in trouble for a long time. And we decided to get separated. But (former wife) Ginny got pregnant in the middle of it. And a lot of people think children save marriages; sometimes it makes it worse. And we split soon after she was pregnant."

It didn't help that he immediately started dating Traci Johnson, who was 23 at the time. Six months after Barber left his wife Johnson wrote on crushable.com: "I knew that Tiki didn't leave Ginny when she was eight months pregnant for me. I knew that his relationship had deteriorated before my relationship with him was even a thought in his mind."

In the court of public opinion, none of that mattered. The New York tabloids killed Barber, which was made easier since he didn't do much to endear himself to the media during his playing days. Also not helping: recent comments comparing himself to Anne Frank.

Now Tiki is looking for football, the sport he left while in his prime, to fill the void created by subsequent failures, both personally and professionally.

"I crafted this career, right?" he said. "And I had gotten to the point where I was right where I wanted to be and then I failed. It's hard to deal with. … [But] I need to prove to myself that I can be successful at something. I know I'm going to be successful as a football player. I don't know why. The odds say 'No.' I'm 36 and I haven't played in four years. But I just know."

The Buccaneers and Steelers have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Tiki -- Ronde is still in Tampa and Mike Tomlin, a former Bucs defensive backs coach now the coach in Pittsburgh, is close with Barber. The Steelers seem unlikely to take a flyer on an over-the-hill running back with more baggage than upside, but Bucs coach Raheem Morris said recently that "You can't close the door … anybody who can help your team you want to look into it."

Sports are as much about overcoming adversity as the wins and losses. And while it's easy to point to Michael Vick and say, "See, if he can do it Tiki can, too, right?" The difference: Vick possesses skills that defy comprehension, and still people were skeptical he'd be able to play in the NFL after his stint in prison. Barber is 36, and, as we've mentioned countless times before, it's much easier to replace a running back than, say, a left tackle, cornerback or franchise quarterback.

Yes, anything's possible, but the odds are stacked against Tiki.

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 3:52 pm

Trent Cole compares Kevin Kolb to Tom Brady

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If super agent Drew Rosenhaus can call Terrelle Pryor a first-round pick, then Eagles defensive end Trent Cole can compare teammate Kevin Kolb to Tom Brady. Appearing Wednesday on SiriusXM Blitz with Adam Schein, Cole spoke glowingly of Kolb, who has played in just 19 games since Philadelphia selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft.

“Kolb can play," Cole said. "He is very, very accurate. I compare him to Tom Brady. I really do. They can both throw it downfield. But they both know how to use the entire field. They can take five yards and work with that, make it 10 or 15 with yards after the catch. Kolb can make every throw. He knows where his players are. He, like Brady, is a great leader.”

Kolb seems well liked by his teammates, and by most accounts, he has the talent to be an NFL starting quarterback. It's just that the few opportunities he's had to prove it have either ended in injury or poor showings.

Even if Cole is laying it on a bit thick with the Tom Brady talk, "potential" will keep teams interested long after they have any reason to be. In February, before we entered the NFL's version of "Operation Shutdown," Kolb was often mentioned as a possible trade target for QB-needy teams. Here's what Football Outsiders' Bill Barnwell said about Kolb at the time:

"Kolb's raw statistics look worse than [Michael] Vick's -- especially his 3.7 percent interception rate, more than twice Vick's rate of 1.6 percent -- but a lot of that has to do with Kolb's Week 17 start against the Cowboys," Barnwell said. "That game came with rookie Austin Howard making his first career start at left tackle against DeMarcus Ware, and the Eagles left LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson on the bench. Kolb threw three interceptions, two of which came on Hail Mary passes. Take out that game and the Eagles' pass offense DVOA with Kolb under center was 28.9 percent; with Vick, it was 29.9 percent."

Schein suggested Wednesday that Andy Reid's tutelage makes Kolb "the perfect fit in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense." If the conversation is "Do you think Kolb is an upgrade over Derek Anderson?" the answer is a resounding yes. But that's a far cry from "a perfect fit."

Last month, Scout.com theorized that the Cardinals "wonder about [Kolb's] decision making," adding: "But mostly the Cardinals' brass wonders if Kolb is the right fit for ... Whisenhunt's offense. … In theory at least, the Arizona passing design is more vertical than that in Philadelphia, takes some pages from the Mike Martz passing game and expects quarterbacks to drive the ball into the intermediate and deep windows with accuracy."

If there's a new CBA in place in the coming weeks and free agency follows, it's a good bet that Kolb will be traded. We can all agree that he's not the next coming of Tom Brady, but he's certainly better than anyone currently on the Cardinals' depth chart. And sometimes you don't need a Hall of Famer to get you to the postseason, just someone to avoid the icebergs. At the very least, Kolb appears capable of that.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com