Vick’s Plan B in effect
NCCU alum bounces back after life altering injury
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012 09:07
His coach called a Cover 3 Zone, requiring linebacker Rakeem Vick to drop back in coverage. While backpedalling Vick recognized it was a draw play. When Vick locked onto the target he didn’t know this would be the last tackle he would ever make, or the last football game he would ever play.
He came up to make a tackle from the side angle, and made contact. Vick vividly remembers the impact of the turf when his head hit the ground.
“My whole body tensed up,” he said. “I couldn’t move anything but my eyes.” At that moment Vick, who had been playing football since he was four, lost the love of his life.
“Right then and there I began to think about what my old coaches, and teachers told me about a plan B,” Vick said.
“All the old voices hit me ... How I wasn’t going to play football my whole life. Have a backup plan.” Vick said he had a hard time realizing he would never strap on a helmet again. “It’s weird. At first it was tough, but I had a real good support system.”
Vick’s biggest supporter, his mother Angela Vick had been in the stands on that Sept. 11 night. “He really fed off my emotions," the elder Vick said regarding her son’s time in the hospital.
"I made sure that he never saw me upset." Rakeem remained at Duke University Medical Center for about 4 weeks, and was later moved after his surgery to Durham Regional for 6 weeks. The Vicks are still receiving hospital bills for his surgery.
While in the hospital Angela made sure she was there and always available for her son.“When he had company I would go into the chapel in the hospital and just pray,” she said.
She made sure Rakeem was never left alone. “I stayed there until someone I trusted came.” In the hospital Vick received many visitors but none from then NCCU head coach Mose Rison. She says it wasn’t until she contacted him that he came to visit.
While in the Hospital Vick had to regain all his nerves, and learn how to walk again. “He couldn't hold a fork, or a spoon," the elder Vick said. “He couldn't do anything by himself.”
After regaining his motor functions, Vick had to put plan B into action.Vick understood playing football was gone, but it was for the better. He soon found his voice.
“I talk to kids. Now they can see my face, and really get to know me,” he said.
“Before when I played football, I had a helmet and uniform on so you didn't really know me outside of football.”
"Now I feel like they respect for me for who I am, not what I do." Despite not being able to play football ever again he still wanted to be around the game, so assistant coach Andre George added him to the staff.
“It allowed him to transition from being a player to an adult, and a coach,” George said. “So it was vital both to him and the program to bridge the gap, and grow together.”
Vick is now a graduate assistant and is pursuing a career in coaching football. “It’s a great opportunity for me to live the game through the players," Vick said. Lana Garland, a filmmaker caught wind of the story and decided to use Rakeem for a 30-second documentary for ESPN's “Free to Be” series.
“It's a blessing. I never I thought I would make it on ESPN that way," Vick said. “I pictured myself making that big play, like an interception or touchdown.”
Vick received much praise from professors, and classmates thanking him for putting the school on the map. Vick said many people don't understand the trials he went through to get where he is today. He's coaching, he's on ESPN but they didn't see what happened behind the scenes. “The fact of the matter is football ended for him,” George said.