2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Klee with Three: The Great Vick, forgiven?

Published: September 29, 2013, 11:56 am, by Paul Klee

Along with this column on Chip Kelly’s offense, this was published in Sunday’s Gazette but didn’t make it online:

Klee with Three
The Great Vick
The Most Memorable Performance at a Mile High stadium? Peyton Manning’s seven-touchdown virtuoso ranks high. (So does the 1998 Monsters of Rock tour with Van Halen and Metallica, but that’s another entertainment genre.) Here’s another one that shouldn’t be forgotten: On Oct. 31, 2004, Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick rushed for 115 yards and threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers aren’t startling. If you remember it, the performance was. “I was a lot younger then,” Vick said last week in a conference call with Denver media. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like Vick on that day, and I’ve never seen anything like it since. “Is there anybody else like him?” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said then. “Come on, now.” Was there anyone like Vick in his prime? No. Hard to imagine there will be another, either.

The Changed(?) Vick
In a great state of dog lovers, we are torn over Vick. “What about his thing with dogs?” my mom said. Mom is right, like usual. That’s still a thing. As transcendent as he was on the football field, Vick’s role with the “Bad Newz Kennels” dog-fighting ring still strikes an ugly chord. Six years ago, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his involvement in a heinous criminal act. As the owner of a 7-year-old Labrador/Pit Bull/fishing guide mix, this is a tough one. I believe there are few sins worse than cruelty to dogs like my Maya. Perhaps the most important factor is what Vick has done since his imprisonment: developing a prominent role in the fight for animal rights and as a messenger for the Humane Society. Perhaps he’s turned a second chance into a positive. I can’t say for sure. But it’s sure better than the alternative, what was going on before.

Kayvon Webster: Up and comer
I’m no NFL scout. But it didn’t take Mel Kiper’s hair, or his eye, to spot a winner in Kayvon Webster. The first conversation with the Broncos rookie was like talking to a veteran. The 22-year-old out of South Florida is as confident as a 10-year NFL vet. “I just know if I do my thing, play the way I can play, I’ll be fine,” Webster told me. In an exceedingly ordinary draft class, Webster was the best draft pick selected by the Broncos in 2013. He doesn’t tackle ballcarriers; he lays a thump on them. “When I can see a play develop, it gives me time to get ready (for a big hit),” Webster said. The challenge now is to find a spot for Webster in a deep secondary. Cornerbacks Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the highest-paid players on the defense, and Chris Harris established his credentials last season. “He’s a rookie,” Bailey said of Webster. “But he doesn’t carry himself like a rookie.” Agreed, Champ. This one will be around for a while.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette