History will show that Michael Vick was one of the greatest running quarterbacks in NFL history. Did he start it all as he claims though? No.
Vick takes credit for Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick rises
The first question to get out of the way is did Michael Vick revolutionize the game of football in regards to the dual-threat quarterback? Yes. During his heyday with the Atlanta Falcons his incredible speed and athleticism were on display on highlight reels across the country every week. Defenses actually resorted to leaving one player on the field to be his personal shadow all game, similar to what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did with Derrick Brooks. That was the only way to stop him back then. Since that time Vick believes his efforts brought attention to the value to the dual threat quarterback, ushering in the rises of young stars like Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. There is no question his arrival changed the NFL landscape. However, his added boast that the idea of the dual threat quarterback STARTED with him is misguided.
Fran Tarkenton and Roger Staubach were the pioneers
Quarterbacks have been running for decades in the NFL, but if one were to trace back the history to find a definitive point for when it really started to take off as a trend, they can look to the year 1961 when an expansion franchise called the Minnesota Vikings made 6’0″ rookie Frank Tarkenton their starting quarterback. The young kid from Georgia was considered too small at the time, and defenses were sure they would kill him. That is until he started to run. Scrambling was not new to football, but Tarkenton took it to a different level, actually using it to both tired out defensive lines, buy time for receivers to get open or pick up yards on his own. That season in 1961 he amassed 308 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
As the decade progressed other quarterback with similar skills began to appear. A young man from the Naval Academy named Roger Staubach was one of them, who not only was a gifted scrambler but combined it with precise passing and coolness under fire. In 1971, the year the Dallas Cowboys finally won their first Super Bowl, Staubach rushed for a career high 343 yards. The truly amazing part of that feat? Bobby Douglass of the Chicago Bears tripled that mark a year later when he set an NFL record with 968 yards.
That is the very same record that remained unbroken for 34 years until a young man named Michael Vick topped it in 2006. So while no one will dispute Vick was a revolutionary as a runner, he has no ground to lay claim to the idea he was the first.