Mike Vick may be retired from the NFL, but he’s still playing professional football. Flag football, that is. Vick, 36, recently signed on as a player and advisor with the American Flag Football League, a fledgling 7-on-7 league that aims to launch eight teams in 2018. Vick will play in the AFFL’s test drive, a launch game in San Jose on June 27, and he’ll be joined by former NFL running back Justin Forsett. The MMQB spoke to Vick about his passion for flag football, about his quarterback daughter living up to the family name, why guys play with concussions in the NFL, and his desire to coach at the highest level.
KAHLER: What made you want to join a flag football league?
VICK: I think football comes in all different forms. I started out playing flag football when I was younger, and I also played intramurals when I was in high school, so when this opportunity came about, I didn’t have to think too hard about it. My daughter plays flag football in middle school, and she’s the quarterback, and I thought it was just a great fit. I thought it was another way to stay involved in the game of football and it’s a great opportunity for guys that want to continue to have progression in their careers. Some guys careers get cut short, they may not be finished with football, and it might not be out of their system and they want to keep playing and this will give them another outlet.
KAHLER: Wait… your daughter is a quarterback?
VICK: My daughter, Jada, she’s in sixth grade. She’s actually in middle school, but she’s the high school varsity quarterback for the all-girls flag football team, so that goes to show how good she is and how good she can throw the ball. She understands the game and I think it is an outlet for women as well. I sit back and watch the girls play. I went to every game this season and they play hard, they play to a championship. They didn’t go this year, obviously she was young, but she made a lot of plays and it was just a great joy to watch.
KAHLER: Was she interested in playing quarterback because she’s seen you play? Seems like Jada has quite the advantage over the other kids who don’t have former NFL quarterbacks as fathers.
VICK: I think out of about four or five other quarterbacks, who were all freshman through seniors, she won the job, so it says a lot about what a Vick can do. When she was growing up, there were times when I didn’t have anybody to throw the ball too. My son wasn’t around and it was just me and my daughter, and we would sit in the house and just throw the ball and play catch. I would be upstairs and she would be downstairs and we just throw the ball to one another. She paid more attention to my highlights, and I think as a role model, I’m considered hers, because she has watched me play the game of football for the last 10 years. She watched all my highlights and she admires my body of work, and I’m very grateful for that.
KAHLER: Is this a high school sport or club sport?
VICK: It’s a high school sport in South Florida, they have a whole league. Every high school has a girls flag football team; there were about nine teams.
KAHLER: Do your daughter’s opponents know they are playing against Mike Vick’s daughter? Have you ever heard opposing parents talk about it?
VICK: Yeah they do, they know. It is evident when she throws the ball. She likes the little fame that she’s got in school because the sixth, seventh and eighth graders go to school with the high schoolers, so she’s got a little fame in school and that’s good for her confidence.
KAHLER: Last season, Drew Brees told Peter King that he doesn’t want his sons to play tackle football until middle school. He’s a big supporter of flag football when kids are young. Would you let your son start off with tackle football?
VICK: My son isn’t into sports, but if I had a choice, I would start them out in flag. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started out in flag. As a kid, we played tackle football in the neighborhood, so getting tackled wasn’t a big deal to me. Over the course of time, I started to realize that flag football and 7-on-7 will always be prominent because it’s all about recognition—you get to read defenses as a quarterback, as a receiver. It’s what people come to see. And that’s what this league will give you, that’s what seven-on-seven will give you and that’s what flag football gives you.
KAHLER: The AFFL aims to have eight teams. Do you know which team you will be playing for?
KAHLER: Do you ever see a day in your lifetime where tackle football isn’t played anymore?
VICK: No, it’s the greatest game in the world, next to golf, in my eyes. I love basketball and I played baseball, and I admire what those guys do as professionals, but NFL football will always live on and it’s been that way for the last 70 or 80 years. Football is not going anywhere.
KAHLER: Is it realistic to think people will actually come to watch a professional flag football game, without the physical contact that defines the NFL?
VICK: I think it is going to have it’s differences. I don’t expect to have crowds of 70,000, because that’s how many people pay to see contact, they pay to see the passing of the ball, and they pay to see their favorite players. It’s more so an attraction than anything, but a crowd of maybe 15,000 or 20,000, I think that’s feasible, depending on if you’ve got the right teams, if it’s built the right way and the structure is the right way and people understand it. Anything is possible. You never know until you try.
KAHLER: How solidly are you retired? Would you come out of retirement if an NFL team called?
VICK: I would have to make sure that my body was in tip-top shape before I went back and played in the NFL. I am pretty content with what I have done and what I have accomplished. I think my mindset is more about giving back to the kids who need some kind of encouragement and to be around them and let them know what it takes to play in the NFL, the conduct and the discipline that you have to have to play in the NFL. The attitude, the focus, and I think that is more important now than ever as far as making the game a better game. So that’s what I’m focused on, but I’ll always love the game of football and always try to stay in shape.
KAHLER: What else have you been doing in retirement? Has it been a strange adjustment to regular life or does it feel natural that you’ve moved on?
VICK: It was natural. I feel like I was one year away from moving on, on my own terms. Because I played 13 seasons, that was a long 13 seasons, and it was a grind. I enjoyed it, but towards the end it was just starting to be more and more difficult because I had problems with my ankle. It just restrained me and I wanted to take some time off, spend time with my family and start to reassess my situation. I have my combine tour where we go to 10 different cities and host [high school football prospects], I’m about to launch my clothing line, V7 Athletics, which I had years ago, and that’s going to resurface. I’m looking to do some joint ventures with Nike down the road. I’ve got a lot going on, a lot of appearances and speaking engagements, so I’m staying pretty busy.