FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Stephen Hill was just one of the Jets who was a little awestruck to see veteran quarterback Michael Vick had been acquired by the Jets this offseason. When a friend told him, he said, “Stop lying.”
“I was kind of in a daze a little bit,” Hill said. “I was like, ‘Dang, that’s cool.’
"I had his jersey, shoes -- anything you name I had that was his. It’s an experience great experience, especially his locker right beside mine.”
Now that Vick has been in the Jets locker room through OTAs and into this, the first day of the Jets mandatory minicamp, he realizes he’s playing the role of the childhood hero to some of the younger Jets.
“I mean they realize that after a couple days I am just like them,” Vick said. “I think it’s funny. That’s the way they feel, you can’t take that away from them. I think just my presence is kind of intriguing to a lot of guys but it’s great to be in a new environment with a bunch of great teammates that really care about winning football games and that’s what I like about this group.”
Even Geno Smith, the presumptive starting quarterback despite a competition in name, notes that Vick has the qualities of a natural leader.
“He’s been through life,” Smith said. “He’s been a guy who’s bounced back. One thing that I noticed off the bat from talking to him awhile back, is that he’s extremely humble. He’s a guy that’s giving. He has a ton of knowledge and he’s trying to give that knowledge to young guys like myself which is why we all gravitate to him as well. We all look up to him. Just the level of leadership and just him being a veteran brings a lot to this team.”
Vick noted that when he arrived in Atlanta as a rookie, there was a player who served that role for him.
“Shawn Jefferson,” Vick said, referring to the wide receiver drafted in 1991. “I watched Shawn Jefferson when I was young. I watched him when he was at San Diego with Tony Martin and I ended up playing with both of those guys. So I thought that was a great experience and I kind of relate that situation to what I am doing now with the young guys here.”
But Vick will know when he’s gotten too old for the game.
“The days that I start hearing lingo and language that I can’t understand from them, that’s the day I’ll retire,” Vick said.