- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Michael Vick had just scored after another dazzling run against the Redskins when Eagles fans at a local sports bar began chanting: “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”

It was a far cry from what Vick was being called a few years ago.

Once one of the NFL’s biggest and highest paid stars, his career was in ruins and his life in shambles. He was broke, reviled and relegated to being a situational No. 3 quarterback after serving 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring.

Now he’s on top again, playing maybe better than ever, and just in time to become perhaps the biggest free agent on the market next year.

Vick may have had the best all-around game by a quarterback in NFL history Monday night against Washington. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 80 yards and two scores in Philadelphia’s 59-28 victory.

So much for everyone who protested his arrival in Philadelphia and threatened to boycott games.

“I thought what he did was disgusting, but the guy paid his dues and deserves a second chance,” said Shaun Young, an 18-year season ticket holder who was inducted into the Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association’s Hall of Fame last year in Canton, Ohio.

“He’s playing incredible. I respect people’s opinions that don’t like him, but isn’t this world based on second chances?”

Since signing with the Eagles in August 2009, he’s been a model citizen off the field, working with the Humane Society of the United States and speaking to school and community groups about the cruelty of dogfighting.

On the field, Vick has been downright spectacular, even more so than when he was a superstar with the Atlanta Falcons.

“I feel like I’m playing the best football only because of the coaches that I have, the guys I’m playing with. The offensive line is playing great,” Vick said. “I have a great group of guys around me. Just as I’m doing a great job, those guys are doing a great job as well.”

Fickle fans who were outraged when the Eagles signed him to a two-year deal are now demanding the team give him a new contract. Vick, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2008, could be a top free agent on the market next year if Philadelphia lets him get that far. Teams who weren’t willing to trade a high draft pick for him when the Eagles made him available last offseason just may be lining up to throw money at him.

“The other 31 teams out there need to save their money and vote for Michael Vick or try to get a bid for him because the way he was looking out there, he was looking awesome,” Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said.

Some would argue that if Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb can get a $78 million, five-year deal from the Redskins, the 30-year-old Vick certainly should be worth more right now. He’s younger and arguably playing better than McNabb did when he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. McNabb was traded by the Eagles to Washington in April and the rest, well, is history.

“I could have never envisioned this,” Vick said. “Signing here, I didn’t even think I’d be starting as the quarterback this year. So, all of this is paramount for me, but at the same time it’s somewhat surprising.”

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