Michael Vick is hoping for one last shot at the NFL, one final season to hopefully end his career in style.
In working toward that, the veteran quarterback has taken a low-key suburban approach to his training.
Five days a week, Vick works on his throws and footwork — with a 25-pound vest strapped to his torso — on the softball fields at Central Park in Plantation with personal quarterback coach Oliver Bozeman.
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Vick’s making sure he’s ready if he gets that call from an NFL team needing his unique services.
“If the call was made today, I would be ready tomorrow,’’ Vick, 36, told the Miami Herald following his hour-long workout on a humid Thursday morning.
“The hardest part would be leaving my wife and the family, but I still love football. I want to dedicate 2016 to football as I’m doing now. It takes a lot of dedication to do what I’m doing and come out here and work out as hard as I can. It’s tough not being signed, but I have optimism. I just have to be ready. I’m putting everything I have into this because I love it.’’
Aside from working out on the fields and in the weight room, Vick also takes on one of the highest parts in all of South Florida, trudging up the former landfill at Vista View Park near his home in western Davie.
“I have to keep those legs going, keep them firing,” he said.
“I’m blessed to be 36 and still be able to move the way I do. I’m trying to use that to my advantage, keep an edge. I’m trying to make sure I’m covering my bases on everything. It’s never too late to learn new things.”
Vick feels he didn’t prepare properly for his previous NFL season. After being a late-signee by the Steelers, things didn’t end all that well in Pittsburgh.
He says he doesn’t his career to end on that note.
“I’m in much better shape this year than I was last year,’’ Vick said.
Last summer, Vick and Bozeman initially met at the fitness center run by former Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers and began doing outdoor work.
Vick and Bozeman both admit that Vick didn’t have his full interest in working out as he was unsigned as training camps opened – an unfamiliar feeling for the former Pro Bowl quarterback.
“That was tough for me emotionally, not being signed and seeing football go on,” Vick said. “Camp had started and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t signed. There were reasons. That’s how it goes in the league. Spots fill up quick.”
Yet on August 25, Vick signed with the Steelers. It was a Tuesday, Vick recalls, “and I was playing in a preseason game on Saturday.”
When Vick got the call from Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, he was on a golf course.
“’I was pretty much playing catch up from the start,” Vick said. “This year I told myself I wasn’t going to put myself in that situation. I pledged to put myself in the best shape I could be.”
With the help of Bozeman, a Dillard High graduate who has been coaching up quarterbacks the past few years, Vick looks strong.
Decked head-to-toe in Nike gear (including his vest), Vick is run through numerous drills by Bozeman.
On Thursday, former collegiate tight end Peter Luton helped out by running routes for Vick as he worked out his feet and his arm.
“He looks completely prepared as he has a completely different outlook than last summer,’’ said Bozeman, who played college ball at Alcorn State.
“He was down a little bit, felt like he should have been in camp and wasn’t His ability is unquestioned. For him to not be somewhere had to hurt. He seems to understand that this year. He’s working with the attitude he has to prove himself all over again. He’s working his tail off.’’
After winning the backup job in camp, Vick was thrust into the starting lineup when Ben Roethlisberger was hurt in the third week of the season.
Vick played in three games which ended with a hamstring injury against the Cardinals after he passed for six yards. Vick ended last year as the Steelers’ No. 3 and ran with the practice squad.
“I did enough last year,’’ Vick said. “But nothing like this.’’
Vick’s morning workouts happen less than six miles away from the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie.
Although the Dolphins aren’t in the market for a veteran like Vick, he hopes other teams are.
The Dallas Cowboys are a team that may hold some interest although there are reports they are looking to trade with Cleveland for Josh McCown.
Last month, Vick was quoted as saying he only wanted to go to a top contender something he backed off from Thursday.
Vick missed two seasons after he pled guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in Virginia and served 23 months. After throwing for 20 touchdowns with the Falcons in 2006, he returned to the NFL with the Eagles in 2009.
Now, Vick wants to end his career on his terms. This, he said, would be his last season.
That is, if an NFL team calls.
If they do, he looks ready.
“Football is football,” Vick said. “I think those comments about playing for a championship contender got blown out of context. This isn’t basketball where you can sign on at the very end and compete for a ring. I want to play the game I love, appreciate the sport. I’ve done that for 29 years now with all the ball I’ve played.
“I’m looking forward to another year. I’ve dedicated myself to do better than I did last year.”