We knew at some point that the Eagles would sign Michael Vick to a long-term contract extension, one that would serve as a new milestone in Vick's astonishing career. And lo and behold, the team finally made good on its intentions yesterday. You should ignore the $100 million figure being tossed around because only $40 million of the contract is guaranteed. People only like to use the $100 million figure because it makes better copy ("Doggy killer becomes $100 million man!" etc.). But the contract obviously represents Vick coming full circle, from the biggest star in football to national disgrace and back again. It's an incredible moment, one that seemed unthinkable just a year ago.
Now comes the hard part, because it was money and fame and adoration that got Vick into trouble to begin with. Now he has everything he ever wanted back in his hands again, and the question is: Is he REALLY smart enough now to not screw it all up once more? Vick is no longer fighting to reclaim his fortune or his reputation. Those have now been more or less restored. Will that fact serve to diminish his ambitions? Prior to his time in prison, Vick was (by his own admission) one of the laziest players in football. Going broke and being sent to jail more than motivated him to work hard and be great again. But that direct urgency is gone now, and Vick will have the next few years to prove that being a good person and being a great football player really DO mean the world to him, more than money and more than avoiding trouble.
Vick's resurgence came at a time when no one expected anything of him (and many didn't want him to succeed). Now, he will again have expectations. Big ones. He will be expected to:
1. Keep his nose clean
2. Win a Super Bowl
3. Never slack off on the field or off
4. Avoid any and all cake-fighting contests
5. NOT get injured (For real, please start sliding)
Those are a lot of expectations to pile onto one guy who hasn't shown in the past that he can handle such things. With all that money comes a whole lot of pressure, and in many ways it represents a whole new set of obstacles for Vick to climb. He's come this far. But with $40 million in his pocket, it isn't far enough.