A few years ago, Michael Vick may have been the most vilified athlete ever. Not even O.J. Simpson or menacing Mike Tyson came close.
But today he stands as the best comeback in sports—ever. That’s right, Vick, one of the most electrifying players to play quarterback, let down the NFL and a nation of followers when he admitted to his part in a dog-fighting ring in 2007 that led to two years of imprisonment.
He again has become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, he was named The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year and on Friday Nike announced a new endorsement deal with the controversial star.
Time and good behavior, however, have healed the past. After most teams didn’t want to touch him coming out of prison two seasons ago, the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on him in 2009 and in 2010 it paid dividends for the organization.
For the first time in his career, Vick was saying doing all the right things off the field while providing breath-taking moments on the football field that took us back to his Atlanta Falcons days.
Apparently, it was enough to take Nike back, as well. The giant shoe apparel company severed its six-year relationship with Vick in 2007 when he admitted to his part in the dog fighting ring and subsequently mistreatment and killing of animals.
But Nike has seen enough of him on the football field and in life to feel like Vick is a good investment once again. Vick has embraced his place as role model, often speaking to young people about their conduct and the choices they make.
"Michael acknowledges his past mistakes," Nike said in a released statement. "We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field."
Rarely in sports do you want to root for athletes who blew a golden opportunity as Vick did. But this time is different.
You can truly see Vick has grown from his mistakes and his experience and he’s a better person for it. But even bigger, he is trying to make others better people, too.