The Atlanta Falcons,17 years ago, drafted the electrifying Michael Vick with the first overall pick after a blockbuster trade with the Chargers.
On April 21, 2001, the Atlanta Falcons changed their franchise forever by drafting quarterback Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech with the first overall pick.
The huge trade included the Falcons trading the fifth overall pick, Atlanta’s 2001 third round pick and 2002 second round pick, along with Wide Receiver Tim Dwight.
Vick spent two seasons at Virginia Tech and took over college football. In his freshman year in 1999, he took the Hokies all the way to the BCS National Championship Game vs Florida State but fell 46-29.
He concluded his career by defeating Clemson in the Gator Bowl and threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Vick was officially made the starter for the Falcons after QB Chris Chandler went down due to injury after a regular season game vs the Dolphins in 2001. From that point, the city of Atlanta became the epicenter of excitement in the NFL. Vick’s strong arm and ability to make plays with his legs sold out games at the Georgia Dome every Sunday.
Vick really started to put the Falcons on notice in the 2002 season. Atlanta was 9-6-1 in the regular season and closed it with an eight-game winning streak. Atlanta faced the Green Bay Packers in the wild card round of the playoffs. The Packers never lost a home playoff game in their 83-year history as a franchise up until that point. In Lambeau Field, Vick put on a show.
He went 13/25, threw for 117 yards and a touchdown and added 64 yards on 10 rushing attempts. The Falcons won convincingly 27-7 and was regarded as one of the best upsets of all time. Atlanta moved on to the division round where their magical run came to an end to the Eagles in Philadelphia, 20-6.
Two seasons later, Vick was one game away from reaching the Super Bowl. The Falcons compiled an 11-5 record in head coach Jim Mora’s first season as they reached the NFC Championship Game.
They destroyed the Rams 47-17 in the divisional round as Vick went 12/16 for 82 yards, two touchdown passes and rushed for 119 yards on eight attempts. The Falcons fell to the Eagles again in the NFC title game, 24-10.
From that point, the Falcons would not see the playoffs again for the rest of Vick’s tenure in Atlanta. The team finished 8-8 in 2005 and 7-9 in 2006. Vick was sensational that season as he had 2,474 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes and became the first QB ever to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season as he had 1,039 and two rushing touchdowns.
It was not enough though as they lost three straight games to close the season and missed the playoffs. Dec. 31, 2006, was Vick’s last game in Atlanta as the team lost in Philadelphia, 24-17.
Vick’s exciting tenure in Atlanta ended abruptly in April 2007 when he was investigated and charged for running an illegal dogfighting ring. He would miss two seasons in the NFL as he was in prison.
After being released in May 2009, Vick started to embark on one of the best redemption stories in sports history. He was signed by the Eagles in 2009 and spent five seasons in Philly as in the 2010 season, he won the comeback player of the year award.
In the Falcons’ Week 17 matchup vs the Saints in the 2016 season, Vick and other franchise greats were welcomed back as it was the last regular season game ever in the Georgia Dome before Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be opened. Fans roared as he made his return 10 years later. Vick and Falcons owner Arthur Blank also shared a moment together during Super Bowl media week before Atlanta faced off against the Patriots.
In June 2017, Vick and former teammate and Falcons great Roddy White both retired with the team as owner Arthur Blank was in attendance. Vick and White spent two seasons together in Atlanta from 2005-2006.
Vick brought an amazing level of excitement to the city of Atlanta but fell short in delivering a championship for the Falcons as his exit from the franchise was heartbreaking. Nonetheless, he is still regarded as one of the best to ever wear a Falcons uniform and one of the most entertaining players in NFL history.
Further down the line, the Falcons should consider inducting him into their ring of honor.