Michael Vick is the human Rorschach test: supreme athlete, perennial underachiever, fallen idol, convicted felon, rehabilitated soul. Pick your preferred. You see in him what you want.
Still, after another season of frustration in Philadelphia and the departure of one of his staunchest allies in Andy Reid, many thought that Vick had blotted his copybook for the last time, even in the City of Brotherly Love. The man himself was also assured his time was up.
"I really thought that my career in Philly was over. There was no possible way that I would be coming back. I'm thankful that this organization gave me an opportunity. They went out and found the best coach possible to replace the great Andy Reid, and in (Chip) Kelly they got someone who just happened to want to give me a shot."
That shot may have arrived in the arm for Vick, but it landed in the temple for back-up quarterback, Nick Foles, who had hoped to be starting under center this term. However, despite Foles' promise, it's difficult to argue with Kelly's decision to give Vick one final chance.
After all, Kelly prides himself on running a high-octane offense. So who better to put at the controls than a man who is still the greatest show on turf when the planets align? This obvious compatibility surely proved the clincher for Vick's re-election.
As a result, Vick and Eagles are fast-becoming everyone's dark horse for the coming season (into 95.094/1 to back from 110.0109/1 in the past week). Their defense is also dependable, but only in as much as it is formed of familiarly porous protagonists. That said, the NFL is always trending towards offensive performance these days, so Kelly needn't be too alarmed by his team-sheet bias. The Eagles D intercepted only eight passes and recovered just five opposition fumbles during their 2012 campaign, so the law of averages alone suggests they can improve on those meagre stats.
The salient question is can Mike Vick stay sound of body and mind? Vick has started just 23 games over the last two years, and is an injury risk every time with his out-of-the-pocket free-wheeling and decision making which rides the fine line between courageous and foolish. In the past two seasons, the 33-year-old has thrown 24 picks, so he certainly must brush up on his probability theories. It's the definitive make-or-break scenario.
For his part, Kelly is also an offensive facilitator. The former Oregon head coach's attacking strategy is invariably preceded in the media by the "up-tempo" epithet and with good reason. Furthermore, he loves to make use of mobile QBs - in view of which Vick's contract extension should have come as no surprise to anyone, particularly when he agreed to a pay-cut.
It's also good news for offensive playmakers like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy whose respective highlight reels now have a new director keen to shine them on the silver screen. But at the end of the day, the starring role is Vick's.
The trust placed in him marks the culmination of an extraordinary return from rock bottom. Incarcerated in 2007, having been implicated in an illegal dog-fighting scandal which drew the ire of the US public, Vick served two years in state penitentiary for his crimes. Perhaps the most exciting quarterback of this or any generation had hit the buffers in spectacular style - and the press had a new train wreck to promote as a cautionary tale to the heady excesses of modern-day football.
Vick's was a fall from grace which saw him literally lose everything: his football, his fortune, his fame, his family and his freedom. And that was just the F column. But they say it's darkest before the dawn - and Kelly could just prove the catalyst to one of the most redemptive comebacks in sport.
Some will argue that the first-season coach's hand has merely been forced by a bellowing wilderness of exciting alternatives at QB. But long story short: Kelly knows that Vick gives Philly the best chance of getting to the postseason this year. And that's the commodity which rotates the turnstiles.
So it's a tale of the unconventional coach and the reformed maverick. It's only worthwhile having a tomahawk if you know the launch codes. Whisper it not in Gath, but Kelly may even have a stealth MVP contender if he gets the combinations right.