Late Hits Not Michael Vick's Biggest Problem

The Philadelphia Eagles' star quarterback is smallish, injury-prone and protected by a weak offensive line.

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Michael Vick (Chris Trotman/Getty)

If you were hit as hard and as often as Michael Vick has been hit through three games, frustration might get the best of you, too. That's obviously what happened to the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback after Sunday's loss against the New York Giants, when he said officials weren't protecting him the way  they protect other QBs.

"Every time I throw the ball, in all of my highlights and just watching film in general, every time I throw the ball I'm on the ground, getting hit in the head, and I don't know why," he said in a postgame news conference. "I don't get the 15-yard flags like everybody else. But hey, I'm not going to complain about it. I'm just making everybody aware of it. Hopefully, somebody will take notice."

It was the second consecutive week in which Vick didn't finish the game, having departed with a concussion against Atlanta and left with a suspected fractured hand against New York. Further tests Monday revealed that his right hand was bruised but not broken. And further reflection gave Vick an opportunity to calm down and back off his comments in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

Vick is one of the NFL's biggest stars, and he deserves the same special treatment -- if any exists -- that is afforded the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys. Vick is great for TV ratings, attendance and merchandise sales, and such players should get the benefit of the doubt on borderline hits, which would give defenders pause the next time.

But Vick's biggest problem isn't getting hit late. It's staying healthy after getting hit, period. He's small for a quarterback -- listed at 6 feet 0 inches and 215 pounds -- and doesn't withstand the pounding very well, especially when he takes off running like last season against Washington, when he was crunched and missed the next three games. He's susceptible, and perhaps prone, to injury even when he stays in the pocket, like the freak play against Atlanta when he suffered a concussion.

Late hits and hits to the head stand out in Vick's mind, but surely they represent a small percentage. Penalties might provide a measure of protection against future incidents, but it's more important that Philly improves its porous pass protection.

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