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Mike Vick on Lamar Jackson: 'I'm in shock'

Terez Paylor
·Senior NFL writer

When Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson put a trio of poor Cincinnati Bengals through the spin cycle two weeks ago, it didn’t take long for a fresh round of Mike Vick comparisons to begin.

And get this: it turns out Jackson’s sizzling 47-yard touchdown run was so similar to Vick’s 46-yard overtime game-winner 17 years ago that even the former star’s friends could barely notice the difference, as Vick says he constantly hears from people noting the similarities between the two.

“Yeah, man, everybody’s saying that — people calling me, texting me, sending me his highlights,” Vick recently told Yahoo Sports with a laugh. “And I’m like, ‘Damn, man, I remember when I used to run through defenses like that, man.’

“To see him do something like that ... it just goes to show why he dominates the game. You don’t see that everyday in the NFL.”

Jackson, a bonafide MVP candidate despite being one of the NFL’s youngest starters at 22 years old, has indeed been nothing less than dominant this season for the Ravens, who improved to 9-2 with their 45-6 destruction of the Los Angeles Rams on the road on Monday night.

Against the Rams, Jackson posted another historic performance in a season chocked full of them. In addition to completing 15 of 22 passes for 169 yards and five touchdowns (tying a career high), Jackson also rushed eight times for 95 yards, all while flashing the elusiveness and overall juice of an in-his-prime Vick.

When asked again how he feels about that, Vick — who is fiercely proud of his football accomplishments — gave an answer that reinforced how much he respects Jackson’s prodigious talent.

Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick (7) breaks away from Cleveland linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (left) and linebacker Andra Davis (right) during the second half of the Browns 17-13 win Sunday, November 12, 2006, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C.  Cox/Getty Images)
Michael Vick, pictured in 2006 as an Atlanta Falcon, was a force in the league. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“Every time I get this question, I probably give a different answer,” Vick told Yahoo Sports. “But [here’s] the truth behind it — I never thought I’d see another guy come into the NFL that looks like me. I really didn’t. Like, where is he gonna come from? What is he gonna look like? How can he do what I did? Can it be done? [But] when I watch Lamar, I’m in shock. Then I think about the conversations I had with Lamar in college, coming into the NFL, and I pretty much told him what he needed to do to look like me [in the NFL] when I seen him look like me in college. I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Turns out Jackson — who is on pace to complete 66 percent of his passes and throw for 3,613 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season while cracking the 1,000-yard rushing barrier — has been following Vick’s advice.

“I just told him — if you play your game, it’s not gonna be hard,” Vick said.

It hasn’t looked hard for Jackson this season, just like it wasn’t for Vick back in his day. During his zenith in Atlanta, Vick did things no one had ever seen before at the quarterback position, all while weathering constant talk of whether a mobile QB could win a Super Bowl.

Vick never did win the big one, but the number of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL has continued to only rise since his ascension, and now they’re absolutely thriving. Elusiveness at the quarterback position has never been more important, and at the moment, reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and four other leading Most Valuable Player candidates this season (Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers) all specialize in hurting opponents with their legs, as well as their arms.

“It’s equal for everyone,” Vick told Yahoo Sports. “If you’re the best quarterback in college and you’re black, you get drafted No. 1. If you’re the best quarterback in college and you’re white, you get drafted No. 1. Teams want talent and most importantly, they want guys with good character. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you wear your hair, cornrows or a long ponytail, you can line up behind center and they trust you. That’s just the growth of the game, and it’s only gonna get better.”

Interestingly enough, when asked if he wished he played in this era instead — one complete with wide-open offenses led by QBs who are vigorously protected by the officials — Vick made it clear he does not.

“Nope, I don’t wish I played in this era — this is not my era,” Vick said with a laugh. “My era was from the early 2000s into 2015 when I retired, and I dominated in my era and I’m proud of that. It’s funny because I never think to myself, ‘Man, if I played in this era, I would be …’ No. Because the game is still hard, you’ve still got to go out there and make it happen and the defenses are getting better and faster. So there’s no shortcuts. You’ve still got to put in the hard work, and I did that.”

To that end, Vick says he has enjoyed watching the game’s evolution over the past few years, from the faster and lighter defenses to the faster, dual-threat quarterbacks who now permeate today’s game.

“I’m more excited about the future of the position man, because I don’t know when, but somebody else is gonna come out and be the next Lamar Jackson,” Vick said.

In the meantime, Vick plans to enjoy the hell out of Jackson’s ascension into a superstar who plays the game the way he once did.

“When guys make plays in the passing game, you see that all the time,” Vick said. “When you do something with your legs and you add sauce to it, it’s too much [fun] man, it’s too much. You get spoiled with Lamar, and I can only imagine how people felt about me. So it’s cool to see.”

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