Michael Vick has a real opportunity here, and it's bigger than salvaging his once very promising football career.
In an odd move Tuesday, Philadelphia Eagles' coach Andy Reid named Vick the team's starting quarterback going forward. The decision came just one day after Reid told reporters Kevin Kolb was "his guy" and would be the team's starter.
Vick, replacing Kolb because of a concussion he suffered in week one, led the team to a 35-32 victory last Sunday in Detroit. Kolb has fully recovered from the injury and would have been ready to go this Sunday.
It'd be easy to write this off as another young celebrity in America not fully having to face the consequences of their actions and learn the lessons that come with them. Vick, 30, spent almost two years in federal prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, and is just over two months removed from an incident involving a shooting outside the restaurant that hosted his 30th birthday party.
First, though, let's look at Reid's decision purely from a performance perspective.
Reid made the correct call here. Many experts have speculated that the long-term effect this will have on Kolb's psyche will do more damage than the good Vick can do for the team this year and beyond. They're wrong. It's ridiculous to think NFL teams can plan ahead more than a few weeks down the line, let alone a few years. Vick, as Reid said, is playing "out of his mind" right now. He absolutely gives the Eagles a better chance to win each week than Kolb. If he continues to play well throughout this season, he could easily be the Eagles' starter for the next half-decade.
Kolb, 26, can surely recover from this, whether it be in Philadelphia or somewhere else. Reid can readdress the situation in the off-season and decide who gives him the best chance to win at that point. If Vick continues to play the way he has so far this year, there won't be any decision to make.
For Vick and his followers, though, this has more to do with a once-troubled young man making the most of a second chance than it does with touchdown passes and victories. He must seize this opportunity. America's youth -- African-American, male youth to be specific -- will be watching as the next chapter in Vick's return to the NFL and society unfolds.
He must not disappoint. This is, I believe, what makes our country so great and sets it apart from the rest of the world.
When asked by ESPN what he thought of Reid's original statement Monday that Kolb was the starter, Vick said, "It's totally okay with me. Kevin is our leader. I know how good he is and what he can do."
Then, Tuesday, after the Reid flip-flop, he had this to say:
"I'm humbled and I just want to win games."
Vick sounds like a changed man, but he must continue to show us he's matured and learned from his mistakes. In the meantime, America will learn how to forgive and embrace a once-misguided young man seemingly ready to right his wrongs.
It's perfectly fine to root for him. I certainly will be.