Former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has written a letter to the City of Atlanta on his time with the Falcons, his fall from grace and life after football.
Vick who played for Atlanta from 2001-2006 is reportedly retiring from the NFL. The quarterback was known for setting the ity of Atlanta on fire and fans fell in love with the polarizing playmaker. It seemed like Vick had it all up until 2007 when he was sentenced to 23 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring.
As the Atlanta Falcons prepare to take on the New England Patriots this Sunday in Super Bowl LI, Vick penned a letter which can be viewed on the Players’ Tribune:
On the first day of my sentence at Leavenworth Penitentiary, on November 19, 2007, I made a list of three things that I wanted to accomplish. One was to make it home from prison safe. Two was to see my grandmother again, before she passed away. And three was to return to the Atlanta Falcons as their starting quarterback — and finish what I’d started.
I wanted to lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
When I tell people this, at first, I think most of them have the same reaction — that I was delusional. Mike, you really thought, after all that, that you were going to come back to the Falcons … and start at quarterback … like nothing had happened?
I think people would hear that I had hung on to the hope of returning to Atlanta as their quarterback … and then maybe assume that I was in denial about my entire situation. That I still wasn’t able to accept the full severity of what I had done.
But to be honest, that really wasn’t the case at all. In those first few months of my sentence, I really did come to understand how far I had fallen. I came to understand how much hurt I had caused, and how much work it was going to take to earn back just a portion of the respect that I had lost — both people’s respect for me, and my respect for myself. I came to accept the consequences.
Despite being in prison, Vick never lost his identity as the quarterback for the Falcons, not until the team drafted Matt Ryan in 2008.
But there was one thing that I just had a permanent blind spot for: being the starting quarterback of the Falcons. It was something that I had taken so much pride in … something that I had come to identify myself with so strongly. Who was I? I was Mike Vick, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons. I was those five words. They were a part of me… in my mind, even from a prison cell, there was at least one thing I hadn’t lost: I was still the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
That was my job, on my team, in my city.
The Falcons drafted current quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008 to which Vick stated, “My heart dropped”
Now as Vick’s career is coming to an end and he reflects over his 13 seasons in the NFl, one thing he wanted to do was write a letter for the city of Atlanta.
I wanted to write to the city as a whole, and to the people in it — to remember, I guess, and to say thanks. And maybe also just to sort of reflect. Because without Atlanta … man, without Atlanta, I’m nothing. Without Atlanta, I might not even be here to write this today.
And when the Falcons beat the Packers two weeks ago, and made it to the Super Bowl — well, it seemed like the perfect time. It’s been almost 10 years, now, since I last played a down for the Falcons. And for whatever reason, and it’s hard to explain … there is something about this year, and this season, that just feels right. It seems like Atlanta — as a team, as a city, as a culture — is finally coming full circle. And in my own small way, I hope I am too.
When I think about my legacy with the Falcons, there are a number of tangible things that I’m proud of.
I’m proud of January 4, 2003: when we marched into Green Bay, into Lambeau Field in the middle of a snowstorm, and came home with a 27–7 win over a Packers team that pretty much everyone had favored. I’m proud of January 15, 2005: when we hosted Atlanta’s first home playoff game in six years, and beat the Rams 47–17 to earn a trip to the NFC championship game. And I’m proud of December 24, 2006: when I became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Over my six years as a Falcon, we did a lot of great things together — things that will live on in the record books. And I’m proud of that.
But what I’m most proud of, honestly, is the stuff that is less tangible. The stuff that doesn’t show up in the record books, or on YouTube, or NFL Films. What I’m most proud of is the stuff you had to truly be there for.
I’m proud of the moment we created.
It would’ve been incredible to witness would could have become of Michael Vick. For someone in their prime to lose it all, we can only imagine where his talent would have taken him and the Atlanta Falcons.