The real redemption of Michael Vick begins Sunday.

The Pro Bowl and possible NFL MVP award are nice honors. An NFC East crown earns respect. But when the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback meets the Green Bay Packers in the opening round of the playoffs, it's all about winning and getting paid.

Winning equals forgiveness. Postseason success brings big money. Vick can gain both.

Some Americans will never forgive Vick for taking part in a dog fighting operation. That he served nearly two years in Leavenworth prison and lost millions of dollars in salary and endorsements isn't enough. For those folks, nothing Vick does matters.

But many fans have already forgotten Vick's past. They're only concerned with now, and now is pretty good for the Eagles. A 10-6 mark validated Philadelphia's decision to move on from predecessor Donovan McNabb, even if Kevin Kolb was the original option.

It didn't take long for Vick to emerge as one of the NFL's dominant players, reminiscent of his 2002-06 heyday at Atlanta. Maybe the legs aren't quite as nimble, but the 30-year-old quarterback is now a better passer.

Vick's 100.2 rating with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 12 games ranked among league leaders. His 676 yards rushing proved Vick's still a dual threat that left defenses like the Washington Redskins unable to solve his unique talent.

The Eagles are three games from the Super Bowl. Each round increases Vick's popularity. Each victory regains the lost luster. Each step closer to the Super Bowl increases the amount of buzz surrounding Vick's redemption.

Should the Eagles reach the Super Bowl, the week will be overwhelmed by Vick much like Ray Lewis in Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis was indicted for murder and assault for the deaths of two men at a Super Bowl party in 2000. He later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served one year of probation.

Lewis endured one hour of intense media questioning before the following Super Bowl. It was brutally relentless and Lewis deflected accusations largely through no comments. The Baltimore linebacker then won the Super Bowl's MVP award and 10 years later is regarded as one of the NFL's legendary players.

Can Vick replicate Lewis' path of redemption? It helps to win. It helps a lot because losing is the biggest sin for fans.

Vick will be a free agent soon. The only uncertainty is the price. Vick has at least five good seasons remaining. Plenty of teams are desperate for a good quarterback.

Philadelphia will certainly try to retain Vick, who should have some loyalty to the only team willing to risk his return in 2009 on their reputation. But money always matters and Vick's future in Philadelphia is no certainty.

After all, Vick can now find redemption wherever he wins.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at and on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail