- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Michael Vick, graybeard.
It doesn't sound right, does it? Not long ago (or so it seems), Vick was considered one of the NFL's most lethal weapons, a quarterback with sprinter's speed and a cannon for an arm. He still believes he has "unbelievable talent," but his birth certificate indicates he's closer to the end than to his prime. Vick, the oldest player on the New York Jets, turns 34 on June 26. Just recently, one of the young players called him "sir" during a practice, triggering a funny fallout.
Everyone was amused -- everyone except Vick, that is.
"We got a good laugh off it," he said. "Seriously, deep down I really didn’t think it was funny.
"That baffled me a little bit," Vick said. "I’m not that old, and I have to reiterate that over and over again. I may be 10 or 12 years their senior, but when you start calling me 'sir' I need to start thinking about retiring."
How do you know you're old in the NFL? It's when you hear from teammates that you were their quarterback when they played the John Madden video game as kids.
"I get that all the time, not just in here, that’s all across the world, wherever I’m at," Vick said. "That’s a good thing, but it definitely makes you feel old, I can tell you that."
That the Jets are a relatively young team probably makes Vick feel older than he is. Consider: They have only eight players that belong to the thirty-something club. The others are Calvin Pace (33), Willie Colon (31), Dawan Landry (31), Dimitri Patterson (30), Nick Mangold (30), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (30) and David Harris (30). Tanner Purdum will hit 30 before the start of the season.
Don't believe for a second Vick believes he's ready for Mark Brunell or David Garrard status -- end-of-their-career backups whose sole purpose was to mentor the young starter. No, Vick thinks he can still play, and so do the Jets. They feel he can take over the offense, if necessary, while offering intangible benefits that will assist Geno Smith in his development. Basically, he's Garrard, except ... you know, better.
How Vick handles the role will go a long way toward determing whether the "unique" quarterback dynamic (Vick's word) will succeed. If he becomes a "me" guy and complains, it'll wreck team chemistry. Obviously, the Jets are betting he buys in.