Ahead of the Curve
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At first impression you'd think Michael Vick and Paul Hornung had nothing in common.  Vick is Virginia Tech, Atlanta Falcons and hip hop; Hornung is Notre Dame, Titletown and Frank Sinatra.

But when you take a closer look, you discover these two have a lot to talk about.

Both were college stand-outs: Hornung won the Heisman in 1956; Vick finished third in the voting as a freshman in 1999.

Both were the overall number one draft choice in 1957 and 2001 respectively.

Both were risk-takers, having been suspended from the NFL for gambling-related offenses.

And both played QB in college and the pros.  When Lombardi took over the struggling Packers in 1959, his decision to move Hornung from QB to halfback would spark the Green Bay revival.

Like Hornung in 1959, Michael Vick is at a crossroads in his own career: return to quarterback or learn a new position?

While Vick's mobility and strong arm made him a challenge for defenders, his lack of pocket presence and tendency to rabbit made him a poor field general.  Leading Atlanta to the playoffs twice in six years (1-2 record) is not much on which to hang your helmet.

Fran Tarkenton was known as The Scrambler, but he did so to enhance his downfield vision and avoid defenders.  Steve Young and Randall Cunningham were natural runners but were even better passers.

Vick and his Falcon coaches saw the quarterback position (and it's pass possibility) as merely a decoy to set-up his frequent runs.  But apart from college ball, where running QBs thrive (Vince Young / Tebow), no pro QB ever led his team to the Promised Land by rushing for a 1000 yards. 

Whatever the Eagles' plan is for Michael Vick, they're keeping it quiet.  Least likely scenario: Mike is McNabb's replacement (a tempting thought for the top brass).  More likely: Eagles are saving Vick for a playoff push (in wildcat) as he is not yet game-ready.  Most likely: Philly is only a staging area for Vick to re-adjust to the NFL while Tony Dungy finds him a more permanent home.

Dungy would be mistaken if he only shops Vick as a signal-caller.  The NFL is a quarterback league and few owners are willing to make an ex-felon the face of their organization.

As such, Andy Reid should be transitioning Michael into a new position: WR, kick-return, DB or Westbrook's understudy.  Heck, he was bored at QB anyway, hence the dog-fighting operation.

But first, Vick needs to give Paul Hornung a call.  Talk to the man who knows about re-inventing yourself.  Paul discovered there's life after quarterbacking and more than one way to get golden.

Steven Keys

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