Last year's Michael Vick was fed up and frustrated with the naysayers who questioned his ability to play the position. Last year's Michael Vick was down about those who said he simply isn't a quarterback. Last year's Michael Vick let it affect him.
But this Michael Vick? This one seems to get "it" a lot more than he did a year ago.
"I finally realized I needed to stop worrying so much about trying to be viewed as a "quarterback." You don't have to call me a quarterback anymore. I don't care. Just call me the guy lining up behind the center who makes plays, that's fine," said a much more relaxed and open Vick. You can call me whatever you want as long as I'm making the plays to win ballgames. I used to get mad and then after the Miami game last year I popped off and there wasn't any need for it.
"There will never come a time when I drop back and if things aren't there I won't take off and run. God put me on this Earth to play football the way I play the game and change the position. You'll always have the prototypical quarterbacks but young kids now have a different type of game to pattern themselves after."
What's the reason for the difference in the Michael Vick experience? He now has something else to be ticked about. For the first time in his pro career, a Vick-led Falcons team didn't reach the postseason. The other times in the past when they missed the playoffs, Vick was either hurt or wasn't the starter.
"Sitting at home watching the playoffs killed me," said Vick. "Last year showed me it may not be as easy for me anymore. It turned me into a different person."
With a different cause to ignite his fire, Vick set out to pretty much change his entire approach to his football life. It had simply come too easily for him in the past and the Falcons always won with him in there. But now he realizes life must change to make that next step up toward a Lombardi trophy.
His first step toward improvement led Vick to sit down, watch, and dissect every single game from last season three to four times each.
"I wanted to find out all the negatives in my game," he said. "I've never done that before. I wanted to see why our offense didn't prosper and what affect I had. I wanted to see how I could become better to help our offense as a whole.
"I saw mistakes came when I was careless with the football. I fumbled in key situations. I could have made better reads, could have gotten the ball out of my hands a little quicker."
In addition to the reality check of last season's disappointment, Vick has matured enough to know that being an elite player requires more than just being a superior athlete.
"It's time to change â€” time to change my lifestyle and time to change my approach," said Vick. "I'm going to sleep a little earlier now. No need to go home and play video games anymore. I use that time now for a little extra film work. Those video games and my friends will always be there but football won't. I'm trying to take care of my body better, get to sleep earlier. I am trying to be more of a professional."
I found it amazing to hear this from Vick. Many of today's superstar athletes believe they can get by simply because they are on a higher level athletically than the rest of the field. The rare few understand it's the things that complement these skills that allow them to reach their goals.
"I have to put in extra time now, the extra work," Vick said. "I watched more film with the receivers, watched more film with (QB) Coach (Bill) Musgrave. I worked more after practice with the receivers.
"Now just because I'm doing this doesn't mean that will change anything but I'm giving myself that chance to make things different. I'm putting myself in a position to perhaps be better."
Better? That can't be good for the rest of the league. He may or may not get better with his new-look upon his NFL life but one thing is sure: he isn't the same frustrated young man who sat at this very same table one year ago. The Michael Vick Experience is expanding its horizons.
BRINGING THE HEAT FROM THE SECONDARY
While I love the addition of DE Jon Abraham, another Pro Bowl addition has his teammates equally as excited.
Lawyer Milloy's presence could be huge for this team for two reasons in particular. First, he brings that smash-mouth, knock-your-head-off attitude to a position that sorely needs it. They now have an equalizer at all three levels of the defense. Second, his knowledge and approach to the game is exactly what they needed to bring in to teach young gun DeAngelo Hall. Hall has the tools to one day become Canton-bound but he needs a Ronde Barber, a John Lynch, a Lawyer Milloy to teach him about the next level. He's got that guy now. Years down the road Hall will be able to do the same thing for the next new star on the block.