FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Michael Vick isn’t ready to break out the cane and rocking chair just yet.
Yes, the New York Jets quarterback will be 34 later this month and is the oldest player on the roster. And, sure, some of the team’s recent draft picks were 9 or 10 when Vick was drafted in 2001.
Just don’t call him “sir.”
Coach Rex Ryan laughed last week while recounting how one Jets fullback — either Tommy Bohanon or undrafted free agent Chad Young — recently said, “Yes, sir,” after taking direction from Vick in the huddle. And it took Vick completely by surprise.
“That baffled me a little bit,” a smiling Vick said Wednesday. “I’m not that old. I might be 10 or 12 years their senior, but you start calling me ‘sir,’ and I’ve got to start thinking about retirement.”
So, did Vick correct the youngster?
“I let it slide,” Vick said. “I let Rex get him. Rex laughed about it and we got a good laugh over it, but seriously, deep down, I really didn’t think it was funny.”
Sheesh. Kids these days, huh?
On the field, Vick still looks spry, running around at practice and flinging spirals all around the field.
“It’s pretty cool,” said 25-year-old wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. “I try not to be star-struck. He was my guy growing up. … Just to catch passes from him, it’s a special thing.”
Vick signed with the Jets in March to push Geno Smith at the quarterback position, giving New York a veteran who could potentially start — and succeed — if called upon.
There was a time, though, when Vick was the most dynamic player in the league. With his combination of running ability, arm strength and athleticism, the four-time Pro Bowler appeared at times to be something out of a video game.
You know, the ones in which some of his young Jets teammates used to pretend to be Vick.
“I get that all the time,” Vick said. “That’s not just in here. It’s all across the world or wherever I’m at. It’s a good thing, but it definitely makes me feel old. I can tell you that.”
Unlike in everyday life, 34 does qualify as “old” in professional sports. It’s an age at which athletic skills begin to deteriorate and questions about ability creep in. But, in Vick’s case, there is a general feeling — among his coaches, teammates and even himself — that he’s not close to hanging it up.
“He’s been great,” Ryan said. “From a physical standpoint, man, can he spin it. And good luck trying to run him down. He still has that God-given talent that’s fun to sit back and watch.”
Before a hamstring injury sidelined him early last season and paved the way for Nick Foles in Philadelphia, Vick appeared very much a rejuvenated player with plenty left.
The Jets are hoping that’s still the case. While Smith enters offseason workouts holding a slight edge in the quarterback competition, Vick could still potentially end up under center in Week 1 if the second-year quarterback doesn’t build off of his success at the end of last season.
The debate over whether the Jets are holding a true “open competition” at the quarterback spot is a non-issue at the moment. As offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said last week, it’s not “50-50” and Smith holds a slight edge — but both will continue to compete for the job.
“I don’t think there’s a miscommunication within this locker room,” Smith said of the competition talk. “The communication is great. We’re all on the same page. I think it’s all a matter of semantics. You put a word here or there, and it changes the whole sentence.”
Vick has insisted he understands his role in New York, and is totally fine with that. He’s also OK with being in a mentor-type role, as he was in last season. It doesn’t mean he no longer has aspirations of being a starting quarterback again. Far from it.
He remains confident in his abilities, and the fact he is reunited with Mornhinweg, his coordinator for four years in Philadelphia, makes things even better.
“I love working with him,” said Vick, adding that he was a bit “shocked” to find that Mornhinweg is a little more stern these days.
Not quite two grumpy old men. But two guys who know what to expect from each other.
“I’m glad that I can wake up every day and come here,” Vick added, “and work with a coach that I have genuine love for.”
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