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‘Super’ Vick looks back on friendship with late assistant

- By Joey Chandler

Whenever Michael Vick looks at his hand, he’ll remember his friend and former mentor, Greg Knapp.

More than a decade has passed since Knapp, who was hired as the Jets’ pass game specialist in January, was Vick’s offensive coordinato­r with the Atlanta Falcons.

Vick reflected on the special bond they shared Thursday after learning of the longtime NFL coach’s death.

Knapp, 58, died Thursday from injuries he sustained after he was struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle Saturday afternoon.

To this day, Knapp is the only person to nickname Vick “Super.” The affectiona­te moniker eventually led to Superman logo tattoo on Vick’s hand. From now on, he said, it will always remind him of Knapp.

No one had ever asked Vick if he preferred to be called by a nickname before, until Knapp. Once Vick told the coach to address him as “Super,” the nickname stuck. Under Knapp’s direction, Vick led the Falcons to the NFC title game following the 2004 season.

“I wasn’t Mike. I wasn’t Michael. I was Super. That was our special bond. I can hear him now in my head: ‘Nice throw, Super. Good job, Super.’ Plenty of times, over and over again,” Vick said. “That meant a lot moving forward in my life.”

Vick said Knapp taught him what it takes to be a people person. He never remembered Knapp being anything other than happy. He said he never argued or raised his voice at anyone. When Knapp left Atlanta, it was difficult for him to say goodbye, but their threeyear working relationsh­ip withstood the test of time.

Asking Vick what he wanted his nickname to be was Knapp’s way of getting to know him, and it worked. He understood how to connect with players on an intimate level.

When Knapp joined the Jets earlier this year, he was in his 26th year of working with some of the NFL’S greatest talents. He coached 13 Pro Bowl players, including quarterbac­ks Vick, Jeff Garcia, Peyton Manning, and Steve Young.

What impact could he have had on second overall pick Zach Wilson this season? In a short amount of time, it was clear the duo had already begun to form their own special bond, and Vick knows, from experience, he would have learned so much more than football.

Knapp even praised Wilson while speaking to reporters during Jets minicamp. Wilson, he said, is a fast study who does a good job of minimizing mistakes. He saw a young quarterbac­k with potential, just like the ones he’d guided in the past. Just like the one he nicknamed “Super.”

“I think throughout all his years and all his experience, the things that he could have helped Zach Wilson with, and just in short term being a young quarterbac­k, you learn so much from Greg,” Vick said. “I was telling a friend on the golf course how savvy he was in knowing the West Coast system. He spent years studying and being serious about his profession and moved on and coached a lot of different offenses. The knowledge that he had, everybody had success when he was around.”

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