Michael Vick's career is like football Play-Doh — an amorphous hunk that you can shape however you want. You could craft a Vick-centric essay about redemption just as easily as one about squandered potential. You could unleash a "Vick was totally and tragically underrated!" argument with the same gusto as a "Vick was the most overrated football star ever!" rant. You could borrow certain statistics to plead his case as an elite quarterback, and other numbers to bury that same case. You could declare with complete authority that "nobody is ever winning a Super Bowl with Michael Vick," or you could veer the other way and say, "If Michael Vick finds the right team, maybe he could thrive like Steve Young did in San Francisco."
Vick didn't need a dogfighting scandal to retire as the most polarizing NFL quarterback ever — it would have happened anyway. Even the process of drafting Vick was polarizing. When Vick declared for 2001's NFL draft after just two Virginia Tech seasons, Peter King wrote a Sports Illustrated piece headlined "Risky Business," with the subhead "Snakebitten San Diego will likely cast its lot with Michael Vick, who's making a perilous leap from college sophomore to No. 1 pick in the NFL draft."
It's an uncanny piece to reread, like someone sneaked into SI's Vault and updated the piece to foreshadow what happened. Certain experts like Phil Simms, Bill Walsh and Steve Young openly worried about Vick's lack of accuracy, lack of patience, lack of maturity, and his ability to hold up physically throughout an NFL season. Meanwhile, former QB James Harris was gushing, "He could well become one of the greatest playmakers in NFL history."