words // Brandon Richard
When you look at today's NFL quarterback, the position has undergone a drastic transformation. Arm strength and accuracy are still highly valued, but raw athleticism and quickness is at an unprecedented level. Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are a few of the guys finding success by combining mobility with traditional quarterback skill sets. In the past, players like Randall Cunningham, Steve Young and Donovan McNabb have been known for using their legs as weapons, but it was really Michael Vick who changed the way we evaluated quarterbacks with his off-the-chart speed and knack for finding paydirt on foot.
After slowly being worked into the starting lineup in his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick assumed the role full time in 2002. Vick started 15 of Atlanta's 16 games, throwing for 2,936 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 777 yards and eight touchdowns. On December 1, Vick set a then-NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 173 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Most importantly, Vick led the Falcons to the playoffs, where they scored an upset victory over the heavily favored Green Bay Packers before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. For his performance throughout the season, Vick earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Before Nike introduced the Air Zoom Vick 1 the following season, Vick spent 2002 wearing variety of shoes — most notably the Air Jordan XVII. The White/Varsity Red colorway was even spotted on his feet during that record-setting performance in Minnesota. Vick also wore the Super Freak in 2002 and had an Air Jordan 3 PE made for him in 2010, leading you to believe a Vick/Jordan Brand partnership was a topic that came up at headquarters a time or two. Unfortunately, we never saw anything official happen there.
Celebrating the XX8 Days of Flight, we've compiled several photos of Vick wearing two colorways of the Air Jordan XVII. Enjoy a look below and stick with us for more coverage as we head toward the Air Jordan XX8 launch on the 16th.