Before RG3, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, there was Michael Vick.
The 33-year-old Vick may be the old man on the block now, but he's proud to have helped pave the way for multidimensional quarterbacks in the NFL. More teams are turning to QBs who can run and the read-option offense has become the latest trend.
Vick gets his first chance to play in Chip Kelly's version of the up-tempo offense when the Philadelphia Eagles open the season against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
While Griffin, Kaepernick and Wilson get most of the attention for their success last year, Vick isn't ready to pass the torch and drift off to retirement.
"I feel like I was kind of the ambassador of this offense in the NFL, like I was the originator," he said Wednesday. "In 2006, I ran for 1,000 yards running the same type of read-option offense. It's in the record books and I couldn't have done it without running the read option. I don't think you can be a dropback passer and run for 1,000 yards in one season, so it was a big accomplishment for me.
"It was something that I was shooting for. I probably had some other goals set, but it was one of them."
Vick has evolved as a quarterback since his days with the Atlanta Falcons when he ran first and passed when he had to. He proved he could thrive in the pocket in 2010 when he had his best all-around season, led the Eagles to an NFC East title and was a Pro Bowl starter.
Vick replaced six-time Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. McNabb was another gifted runner who despised the label "running quarterback." Vick embraces it, but also wants to be known for his passing ability.
"I think as kids — when we're in the backyard — we idolize certain guys and we want to be like those guys who we look up to," he said. "You don't want to just be viewed as a running quarterback, like all you can do is run or 'he's just athletic.' We put a lot of hard work into our craft and what we do, to be able to go out and execute and run an NFL offense, which is hard, because if anybody could do it, we probably wouldn't be here.
"Sometimes you don't get credit for what you do, but I think at the end of the day, you've got to be the best football player that you can be."
Vick is the oldest player on Philadelphia's roster and he'll be the oldest QB to start a season opener for the Eagles since 35-year-old Ron Jaworski in 1986. He knows there's a generation of players in the league now who grew up playing him on video games.
Some of those guys are defenders he still outruns despite a 10-year age difference and some are the quarterbacks stealing his spotlight. Vick appreciates the recognition they give him for being sort of a trailblazer.
"It means a lot," he said. "It means the way I've been able to play the game and others before me has trickled down to the younger generation."
As for RG3, Vick said: "I'm a fan of his just like he's a fan of mine. It's great that you have guys that respect what you do. I like the way he plays the game, the desire he brings, his intensity, his heart, the way he carries himself with his teammates and you can tell everybody in the organization likes him and that's the type of character you have to have as a quarterback in this league.
"You want everybody to like you, and you want to be that franchise guy."
Just don't ask if Vick if he's watched film on Griffin to learn from him.
"I was running the read option before RG3 started running the read option so I know how to do it," he said. "The thing I respect is the way they do it and the way he did it last year and putting his team in position to excel and be successful.
"He's taken it to another level and I have a lot of respect for him."
And they'll square off on Monday.
NOTES: Kelly said Nate Allen will start opposite Patrick Chung at safety, but rookie Earl Wolff will get playing time. ... With only three QBs on the roster after Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne were cut, the Eagles needed an extra arm in practice. So, Kelly threw passes to running backs during one drill. ... The Eagles signed former Oregon defensive end Brandon Bair to complete their eight-man practice squad. Bair was on Oakland's practice squad last season and was released as part of the team's final cutdown last week.
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