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In Philadelphia, a Michael Vick Atlanta never knew

Quarterback Michael Vick has won the starting job with the Philadelphia Eagles by changing who he is – both on and off the field – after spending 20 months in prison for dogfighting.

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Nationwide, the storyline could be the similar. "This is potentially a phenomenal story about the kind of redemption that is possible in America," writes FoxSports Jason Whitlock, a long time Vick critic. "The story is about the possibilities that lie ahead, not what transpired in the past."

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His past, however, is certainly not behind him yet. As recently as this summer, Vick flirted with trouble again, leaving his 30th birthday party in his hometown just minutes before a man got shot. The NFL investigated, but did not fine or suspend him.

And then there was the Philadelphia Daily News headline announcing Vicks's elevation to a starting role – a dig as much as a declaration: "Top Dog."

Vick's reward

But even sportswriters who lambasted Vick for his role in running the Virginia dogfighting ring – not to mention his at-times disrespectful antics – sense a determined change in the QB. That's exemplified not just by Reid's comment that Vick is "playing out of his mind right now," but Vick's conscious decision to take full advantage of his second chance.

Reid's decision to give him the QB mantle in one of the nation's craziest – and harshest – sports towns, has shown Vick that his more recent, responsible decisions have paid off.

“Everything I’ve been through has made a stronger individual," Vick told sportswriters Tuesday. "I’m trying to rise like the phoenix. There’s no question this is a blessing from God.”

OK, that stings a bit, since the phoenix is the symbol of the city of Atlanta. But even here, minds have changed about the city's fallible departed QB.

"Having known Michael Vick for nearly a decade, I can say that he as a younger man never felt anything could go wrong," writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley. "He knows better now. I believe he will do everything in his power to make this second chance go right. I believe he’s going to make it after all."