It was about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when deja vu struck.
I had to laugh at the irony of the situation.
Two years ago, the Atlanta Falcons opened the 2002 season in San Francisco against the 49ers, much like they were doing Sunday.
In the weeks preceding that game, the sports-talk radio airwaves buzzed about the lackluster preseason Michael Vick just had.
Many people believed Vick, in his second season with the team, wasn't ready to take over the offense after looking confused and befuddled during the preseason.
His backup at the time, Doug Johnson, had an outstanding preseason, and many fans were calling into the Atlanta stations to proclaim Johnson should start.
Under a cloud of questions, Vick went under center that Sunday and didn't miss a pass in the first half. He almost led the Falcons to an upset of the playoff-bound Niners, but the birds fell in overtime.
Anyone not named Rip Van Winkle knows the rest of the story. Vick led the Falcons to the playoffs, where they were the first visiting team in history to win a playoff game at the storied Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
But even Van Winkle knows that the Super Bowl hopes of the tortured fan base snapped when Vick broke his leg last year in the preseason. The hopes of the franchise lay with Johnson, who didn't live up to that great preseason many thought he had the season before.
The Vick-doubters re-emerged last year when Vick took "too long" to return from his injury.
When Vick did return, he single-handedly beat Super Bowl-bound Carolina, giving fans a taste of what they longed for during the season.
When new coach Jim Mora brought the West Coast offense to Atlanta this year, fans reveled at the possibility of having Vick in the same offense that has helped Joe Montana, Steve Young and Brett Favre become household names.
But the young quarterback missed extensive time this preseason because of a hamstring injury. Pundits, including Hall of Famer Howie Long, said that Vick didn't have the snaps needed to excel in the West Coast offense.
Rookie Matt Schaub had a Doug Johnson-caliber preseason this year, and some people actually believed Schaub should have been given the starting nod because he played in the same offensive set at Virginia. I even heard some armchair quarterbacks allege that the southpaw should move to receiver.
This is the same guy who The San Diego Union-Tribune said was good enough to take the Falcons to the Super Bowl in each of the next 10 years. This is the same guy who is so fast that he made two Minnesota Vikings run into each other as he darted between them.
Now some "knowledgeable" fans think he should switch positions.
So there I sat in front of the television laughing after Vick missed on only two passes against the 49ers in the season opener. The 24-year-old would have made NASA proud by throwing lasers beams around the field.
The Falcons won 21-19, in a game closer than it was because of a porous Falcons defense.
I thought, "What would Vick, the most athletically gifted and exciting athlete in the world, have to do to silence his critics? What would put an end to the needless catcalls? Win a Super Bowl?"
Well, one might be coming sooner than you think.
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