Marcus Vick: Life as MV2
by Neal Williams
TSL Extra, Issue #17

Marcus Vick turned 18 on March 20, and he got a pretty nice present from his big brother Michael.

A Playstation? A stereo? A big ol’ TV? Get serious.

For his 18th birthday, Marcus Vick got a Cadillac Escalade, courtesy of Michael. That, says the web site, has a base price of $49,480. That’s without the extras. As presents go, that’s the big leagues.

"It’s pretty cool," Marcus said.

Even without such a fancy birthday present, Marcus Vick has found that being the younger brother of Michael Vick – formerly of Virginia Tech and currently of the Atlanta Falcons – is a pretty good deal.

He loved it back when Michael was at Warwick High in Newport News, and the family didn’t have the resources that come with the contract Michael received for being the top pick in the 2001 National Football League draft.

He loves it now.

"He’s always been the big brother, watching over me," Marcus said. "It’s also like we’re buddies, too. I can talk to him about anything."

Yes, being the second Vick son is all good. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without its pressures. Those pressures figure to intensify this summer when Marcus follows his brother’s collegiate path and enrolls at Virginia Tech.

He’s been dubbed MV2 and the "2" is very telling.

Someone came before him and that someone did very well. Fair or not, big expectations lurk over Marcus Vick. Grant Noel, the Hokies’ quarterback in 2001, had to deal with comparisons to Michael Vick simply because he followed him under center at Tech. Imagine being his younger brother – similar name, similar game.

The people who know him best – his mother Brenda Boddie, his prep coach Tommy Reamon and Marcus himself – say he’s well equipped to deal with the pressure of being the second Vick to quarterback the Hokies.

"It will be just like it’s always been," Marcus said, "everybody watching me coming behind Mike. It’s been that way all my life. I’ve never been without him, don’t know what it’s like to not be Mike’s little brother. So it will feel the same for me."

As Mrs. Boddie said, it’s just Warwick High all over again – albeit on a much bigger stage. Michael set a very high bar there, and Marcus followed without problem. The bar at Tech is astronomically high. No one expects a problem.

"He can handle it. He did well for himself at Warwick," she said. "Marcus is tough. He has a lot of confidence in himself. It seems like he can get through anything. He wants to do anything to make his team win. He has a real go-getter attitude."

Mrs. Boddie says she doesn’t like to compare her only sons (she also has two daughters – Christina is older than the boys, Courtney younger), but knows it is unavoidable. She does it herself.

They look alike.

"All the children, when they see Marcus, they’ll ask if it is Marcus or Michael," she said with a laugh. "We pick my daughter up at school and that’s what we’ll hear. Even with their baby pictures, I’ll be like, is this Michael or Marcus? I have to look real close, they look so much alike."

They sound alike.

"Sometimes I can’t tell one from the other when they’re on the phone," Mrs. Boddie said.

They often act alike.

"Marcus likes being like Michael," she said. "There’s a pretty big age difference (about four years), but they’ve always had a good relationship. When Marcus was younger, Michael wouldn’t let him go a lot of places with him. Then Marcus started growing up and Michael looked one day and they were about the same height.

"They’re good buddies, but Michael is still always trying to protect him."

Both are quiet around people they don’t know well and open up more in familiar surroundings. Michael is definitely the most talkative.

"Kind of like pulling teeth, isn’t it? Reamon said of initiating a conversation with Marcus. "He is quite quiet."

Said Mrs. Boddie, "Both of them are a little quiet. And then sometimes Marcus can just talk, talk, talk. I guess they get that from me. I just love to talk."

His brother’s success has been an inspiration to Marcus. He sees what the work can do. He hasn’t let the fact that his brother is in the big leagues both professionally and financially get in the way of a work ethic. He could ride his brother’s coattails and never want for a thing, but he has chosen to keep working and make his own name.

Football-wise, Marcus is ahead at this point.

"Yes, he is more prepared than Michael was coming out of high school," Reamon said. "He has more exposure with what is expected. He is more football-intelligent at this stage. He’s been prepared a lot more specifically for what to expect in college. He can pick up things, read defenses. He has a very good touch on the ball Michael didn’t have."

He has a field presence, too. Reamon recalled a game where Marcus led Warwick on a late game-winning drive.

"That drive was one of the best I’ve seen, second to nobody, including (John) Elway," Reamon said. "That drive was, in essence, everything we’ve worked on and put in so much time on. This is college stuff we’re running, pro stuff. And he handled it so well."

Mother and coach say that everyone in the equation benefited from Michael’s experience. Marcus watched and learned. Mrs. Boddie, who says she doesn’t know much about football, sure sounds like someone who knows the game. She, too, learned watching Michael and knew more when Marcus played.

Reamon has also learned from experience.

"Remember, I also coached (former UVa and current Saints QB) Aaron Brooks, along with Michael," Reamon said. "Just like with our children, as coaches we learn from our mistakes and the next ones in line benefit. He benefited from my mistakes, things I learned from working with the others, to make him even better.

"Marcus did not play quarterback his sophomore year. He was a receiver. Michael was so aggressive, a lot more cocky. Marcus had a chance to take his time. Was I going to throw him to the wolves? No way. Even as a receiver, he was learning about quarterback. He certainly gained a greater idea of what the receivers were doing."

Off the field, Marcus got a lesson, too. It didn’t take long for Michael to become a national star. He was on magazine covers, he was on television. As a professional, the "spotlight" got brighter. Demands on his time became greater.

"We’ve done quite a lot of talking about these kind of things and he did learn a lot from Michael," Reamon said. "He has a good level of maturity. Some people have the personality that fits into that kind of situation. He has that. I can’t make up words to express his ability to be in that kind of situation. Not many kids have it, a media-exposed brother and the younger brother sees all that happen. Now it becomes a part of him, and it’s something he’s grown accustomed to."

It helps, too, that Marcus has seen success have a positive effect on his brother. His circumstances have changed. The family is certainly better off and able to enjoy the fruits of that success. But Michael, Mrs. Boddie said, remains the same ol’ fun-loving, devoted son and brother he was before the big contract.

The family therefore remains the same. Their home is bigger, newer, nicer. The people inside are the same.

"Michael is just a sweet person," Mrs. Boddie said. "Both of them are kissy/huggy types. I guess they got that from me. We’re just a good, close family. We’ve always been close, me and my children. Nothing has changed. He’s still the same old Michael. He doesn’t have the big head, doesn’t talk about all he’s got, nothing like that. Marcus is the same way. His brother can buy him nice things and none of it goes to his head.

"It’s funny how many people can’t believe that we act normal. I still go to my daughter’s school and eat with my bus driver friends. I used to drive a bus. I still do what I used to do."

What she’s done for years is go to football games at Warwick High and Virginia Tech. Her paths will be much different this season. She has a new Winnebago, and she’s going over the Hokies' and Falcons' schedules figuring out ways she can make as many of each team’s games as possible. She figures she’s certain to make all the home games.

"I’m really excited about the season," Mrs. Boddie said. "I have the whole offseason to see how I’m going to do this, but I’ve been doing it so long I’m a pro at it."

Michael has been around in recent weeks, hanging with his brother and working out with him some. Soon, he’ll head back to Atlanta for mini-camps and intense preparation for his first season as the Falcons’ starting quarterback.

It won’t be too long before Marcus Vick will head to Blacksburg and enroll at Tech. His mother said he doesn’t plan to enroll early. When practice starts, he’ll be ready.

He’s said his preference is to redshirt. Grant Noel, who started all twelve games in 2001, is a rising senior. Michael Vick took a redshirt season and told Marcus it was beneficial. But Marcus won’t turn his nose at playing as a freshman, either.

"I’m going to be ready. I may not even play," he said.

Reamon shares Marcus’ thoughts. A redshirt season is not a bad idea.

"There’s no ego involved here, no I-have-to-play-now," Reamon said. "Marcus has no pressure. Noel is the quarterback. We have total respect for that. He has one year, what he does next year is his show.

"I think the media may try make more out of it. Our point of view is that it is Noel’s job. Marcus will learn, watch. The media may ask for Marcus to get on the field. We’re not. He is prepared. He can make the same kind of throws they make there right now. When he gets there, he can fake a handoff to (Kevin) Jones and throw a deep out route. You’re not talking about anything magical here. You’re talking something he can do.

"He’s ready, if they need him."

Reamon is convinced that, between Marcus’ prep days and his family, he definitely has the foundation he needs. The rest comes in time.

"You have to have the right guidance," Reamon said. "You can talk all the noise you want about talent. You have to have development and guidance to do some of the things that come into the public eye as good. He is very comfortable. He is a great kid."

The last sentence is the best for Mrs. Boddie. It’s nice having a couple of top-notch quarterbacks in the family. It’s nicer having a couple of top-notch sons. Take away the football and she’d still be happy.

"To me, they’re both great boys, great sons," she said. "I keep telling my mother and my friends, I wouldn’t have ever thought they’d grow up to be such great quarterbacks. I laugh about it, smile about it. Thank the Lord."



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