Michael Vick trotted out on the practice field yesterday under a bright sun and a clear blue sky.
Back in Philadelphia, temperatures barely reached the 30s as clouds filled the sky, ready to drop buckets of snow in yet another East Coast blizzard this winter season.
Vick’s own personal storm lasted 19 months — and that’s only the time he spent in federal prison — yet his trip from Pennsylvania to the islands is symbolic in the way he’s turned his once-troubled life around.
The Eagles quarterback has gone from broke and disliked to one of the NFL’s biggest stars — again, evidenced by his selection to a fourth Pro Bowl with more than 1.5 million votes, second only to New England’s Tom Brady.
It’s Vick’s first trip to Hawaii as an Eagle, yet more importantly, it’s the first since he was sentenced to prison for his role financing a dogfighting operation four years ago.
"This one feels great due to the fact that I’ve been through so much," Vick said yesterday after the NFC’s first practice of the week. "To be able to get back to this position is paramount to me, and I’m just thankful."
Vick also had to change his game on the field to get back to the annual all-star game he played in three of his first five years in the league.
He threw for more than 3,000 yards for the first time in his career, despite playing in only 12 games.
Vick hasn’t lost his dynamic ability running the ball, averaging 56.3 yards a game, nine more than his career average.
The difference was in the passing game, where he completed 62.8 percent of his passes, blowing his previous best out of the water.
"I feel like this one I had to work hard to get here," Vick said. "This came in a different fashion due to the fact that I displayed different talents this year to show really what I can do in the passing game along with doing everything else.
"I think everything came together, and it has worked out for me."
For everything that he’s been through, Vick is still 30 years old and in the prime of his career.
Where he will play next season is up in the air. The two-year contract he signed with the Eagles in 2009 is up, and Philadelphia also has money invested in another quarterback, Kevin Kolb, through the 2011 season.
"I’m expecting everything to go according to plan … got to take it one day at a time," said Vick, who reiterated later, "Hopefully I’ll be with the Eagles next season."
Vick’s turnaround continued yesterday, when he signed his first endorsement deal since prison. One of the sport’s most recognizable and popular stars before the entire ordeal, Vick agreed to a two-year deal with Unequal Technologies, a company that produces protective padding for athletes.
Vick struggled at times this season with an injured rib and back.
"Part of the reason I’m here is because I was able to wear some rib protection this season to guide me through my injury," Vick said. "Unequal was one of the reasons I’ve been able to make it through the season."
Vick will get the start on Sunday and try to earn his first Pro Bowl victory.
"I’m very thankful and happy to be here and I’m going to try and put on a great show for the fans," he said.