By Doug Gorman
I never played organized football, but after spending years watching the game, I think I'm a pretty good judge of talent.
That's why I have to laugh when I hear people say Mike Vick is not a good NFL quarterback.
By what definition?
Some "old-school" football fan who thinks all NFL quarterbacks should be drop-back, stay in the pocket, throw the ball 40 yards down field signal callers.
That's not the way Michael Vick is built. You can't turn him into a Payton Manning or a Tom Brady.
Vick is writing his own definition of how the position should be played, and bringing a new level of engery and excitment to the game.
Atlanta has always been a great college football town, but now with the Falcons finally showing signs of life, it is also becoming a great pro football town too. Falcons fans owe Vick a big thank you for generating a new kind of excitement.
Of course, Vick has a long way to go before being mentioned as one of the game's greatest ever, and he certainly isn't ready to take his place in Canton.
However as he enters his fifth year in the league, he's only going to get better. Vick started only two games as a rookie in 2001 before becoming the fulltime starter in 2002.
Then of course, he missed most of the season in 2003 when he was hurt in an exhibition game, before coming back and starting four games late in the year.
Last year of course was the breakout year as Vick rushed for 902 yards and passed for 2,313 in leading the Falcons to the NFC title game.
It's last year's type numbers we can now expect out of the former first round draft pick from Virginia Tech.
There are some drawbacks to Vick's "reckless abandon" style of play. He's still not the most accurate passer in the game, and there's always that risk he is going to get hurt again when he tries to break loose on a long run.
But it's a chance most Falcon fans should be willing to take if they want to see the franchise thrive.
After all, the Falcons bread and butter on offense is going to be running the football.
Vick doesn't just electrify fans who watch him at the soldout Georgia Dome. He also electrifies his teammates, who responded to the charismatic quarterback.
Running back Warrick Dunn and tight end Alge Crumpler might be the most underrated players at their positions in the league, but they have become All-Pros candidates playing in this offense.
Defensively, the squad has helped the team turn into Super Bowl contenders with players such as Rod Coleman, DeAngelo Hall and Keith Brooking in the lineup.
Of course much of the credit for the Falcons turnaround has to go to owner Arthur Blank who has made a commitment to the franchise by bring in Jim Mora as head coach and Rich McKay to take the Falcons to the next level.
Let's be honest, however, Vick is the man who makes the franchise fly. He is about to lead the squad into a new era, one that proves it can win on a regular basis.
One thing is for sure, football fans may want to hop on board, because it's going to be a fun ride with Vick at the controls.
(Doug Gorman is the sports editor for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )