Former NFL star Michael Vick surprised Landstown’s football team then gave lessons on life, football

·4 min read

It’s not every day that a high school football team can say a former NFL player came to its practice.

But that’s what happened on Tuesday when former star quarterback Michael Vick showed up at Landstown High.

Landstown coach Tommy Reamon coached Vick at Warwick High in Newport News.

Vick, who starred for Virginia Tech and was the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, played 13 seasons in the NFL, was a four-time Pro Bowl pick and the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Vick has always wanted to attend Reamon’s practices before, but his football career and then his job as an analyst on Fox NFL Kickoff on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) has prevented it.

But since high school football season was moved to February, Vick came through to surprise the team.

Vick commanded the floor the moment he started speaking as players’ eyes were focused on his every word.

He talked to them about playing for Reamon more than 20 years ago, and how Reamon had molded him into the man he is today.

“It was probably the best time of my life,” Vick said about his high school career. “When you get coached hard, appreciate it, and accept it. It’s the best thing for you. Enjoy this experience and don’t take it lightly.

“More importantly, in that classroom,” Vick said as he pointed to the school, “that’s where you gotta excel. (The practice field) is the easy part. The challenge is in (the classroom). I learned that from him and it’s helped me to this day.”

Vick thought he was invited just to speak. Dressed in blue jeans, a gray hoodie and white Nikes, he wasn’t prepared to practice. But Vick couldn’t help himself. Before long, he was in the middle of a muddy football field, throwing balls to players.

“It felt great throwing to the kids,” said Vick, who hadn’t thrown a ball in a year. “It’s like every pass, I can see something that they can learn from. Whether it be hand positioning or something with their route, I always picked up something that I can teach them.”

Junior wide receiver Chris Nyeanchi said Vick’s presence definitely amped up the mood at practice as the Eagles prepare for their first game in two weeks.

“It was a different experience,” Nyeanchi said. “He motivated everybody to be better.”

Nyeanchi added that he had extra motivation to catch every ball thrown to him.

“When Mike Vick is throwing the ball, you’re trying to catch every single one of them,” he said with a smile. “The spiral is a lot tighter. It’s just a lot more faster.”

Vick also tutored the quarterbacks on vision and throwing techniques.

Sophomore Derick McMasters said having Vick there was “an honor.”

“I was kind of worried because I wanted to impress him,” he said. “He was letting me know about my mistakes. Stuff like that can help me improve majorly as a player.”

McMaster’s brother, Dwight, said Vick helped him on several things that could assist him this season.

“I learned about following through on my throws and my timing on my throws,” said Dwight, a senior who will be the Eagles starter. “It’s great to have him out here when you think of all of his accomplishments.”

Reamon said Vick’s appearance definitely gave his team a much-needed boost.

“That makes a difference,” he said. “I saw the energy level, and that was the purpose of asking him to come. It’s not every day that they can see someone who is on television.”

Reamon also will have his son, Tommy Jr., on the sidelines this season. Both are looking forward to the opportunity.

The younger Reamon said being there with his dad and Vick brought back memories.

“I grew up on the sideline when Michael was playing,” he said, “idolizing him and my dad. Now, it’s come full circle. I’m excited.”

Vick said coming to Landstown to help was “special.”

“Being out here teaching the next generation of athletes how to play the game of football was pretty cool,” he said. “Hopefully, what I taught them today, they can practice over the next couple of weeks. Then when I come to the games this year and check them out, I can see if they’re doing it right.”

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449,