Friday, August 14, 2009

Still the "Gold Standard?"

The bombshells came last night while I was at dinner with Summer. About six text messages and five voicemails within a four-minute period. "Vick is an Eagle." My initial thought was amazement mixed with a hint of curiosity. Of all the messages/conversations I had, Barry Martin, your message was the best. "Dammit Ross I need my cheesesteak man! I need to hear your thoughts on this. Man, I got a lot on my mind and I know you better be writing soon. I broke the story on facebook and dammit, you always send me to voicemail. You better start answering your damn phone, jackass." Haha, the message was priceless! Jonathan Ganz (a die-hard Falcons fan & Vick fan) told me he was going to buy an Eagles jersey. Matt Money made perhaps the best point. "How do the Eagles sign Michael Vick and let a guy like Brian Dawkins go?" Danny Silvers, "I can't wait to read the Cheesesteak." Maybe ya'll (that's southern slang, you see) really care what I have to say. Maybe not. Either way, this one's for you.

Based on Facebook and reading some of the message boards, I'd say the reception to Vick has been shock mixed with disappointment. Here's what we know - Michael Vick is an exciting player. RIGHT NOW Vick is easily the second fastest player on the Eagles (behind DeSean). Even today, Michael Vick has one of the strongest arms in the league. If you go to a hotel or a restaurant and see a reservation under RON MEXICO, Michael Vick will be there. Michael Vick committed an absolutely heinous crime and he has made some deplorable decisions in his life. Donovan McNabb actively recruited Michael Vick to the Eagles (well, this is what Donovan said, though I have my doubts). Michael Vick, a 3-time Pro Bowler (Mom & Summer, this means he was an all-star football player, not an actual bowler) has not played professional football since 2007.

Here's my take on the situation. Michael Vick deserves a second chance. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I like animals - especially dogs. My dog (who actually abuses people) is sitting right next to me as I write this. What Vick did was horrendously disgusting and causes me to ponder if he is actually the Tin Man. He ran a dog-fighting kennel and admitted to killing multiple "non-performing" dogs by some of the most violent ways imaginable. The guy went away to the big house for 1.5 years, and he is on probation for another 6 months, and can't play in the NFL until week 6. But, he deserves a chance to show that he has rehabilitated himself. He deserves a chance to show contrite about what he did through his words and more importantly his actions. If you are mad that he hasn't served enough time, then blame the legal system, don't blame the man himself. He's already made several appearances on behalf of the Humane Society and will continue do so, speaking to kids in urban area's about cruelty to animals. I am not saying the guy will ever win any "Citizen of the Year Awards" or that all is forgiven, but at least he is starting to do something positive, which is much better than him doing nothing at all.

Along those lines, if the Flyers signed Danny Heatley (an amazing NHL player who killed a teammate in a drunk driving accident) or the Sixers signed Kobe Bryant who may have had non-consensual, adulterous relationship with a female in Denver, would everyone be so up in arms? You all realize the St. Louis Rams Leonard Little killed someone in a drunk driving accident and six years later was again arrested for drunk driving. Oh, did I mention he STILL plays in the NFL?

The biggest problem I have is not that he doesn't deserve a chance to resume his career, it's that the Eagles don't need Michael Vick. Our biggest needs are TE, OL and MLB. Last time I checked, we were still depleted at those positions due to injuries. Back-up QB is NOT a position of need and we just added a QB who, per Andy Reid (will not sit on the bench). I've heard people say we can use Vick as a WR or a RB. People, the guy is 29 and has played QB is entire life. After spending nearly 3 years out of the league, you can't just bring the guy back into the NFL and change his position. I also don't like this notion that he will run the fad known as the "Wildcat" offense. The final 4 teams in last year's playoffs were: Pittsburgh, Arizona, Philadelphia and Baltimore. NONE OF WHICH RAN THE WILDCAT OFFENSE!

After watching Donovan McNabb for the last decade, he's the type of QB who plays best when he is in a rhythm. You bring in Michael Vick to run some plays here and there and now Donovan's rhythm is off. Another thing to consider is that Michael Vick is making about 7 million over 2 years (1.5 this year and a 5.5 option next year). There is no back-up QB or gadget player who gets paid $5 million a year. Period. I really hope the Eagles front office isn't using this as a way to move Donovan after this season. The bottom line is that Vick could not hold Donovan's jock as a QB. If we want to run a West Coast offense, there are much better choices as a back-up QB then Vick.

Michael Vick is a playmaker, no doubt. If Donovan gets hurt for an extended period of time would you feel better about Michael Vick running this team then Kevin Kolb or AJ Feely? I would be more excited about Vick running the team, but would he be a better fit? I'm not so sure. I'm not a Kolb fan, but Feely has shown he can play. He nearly upset the Patriots in Foxborough two years ago and he won a few games during that 2007 season. Further, the Birds run the West Coast (WC) offense. Vick cannot read a defense to save his life. He gets by on his G-d given ability. This is one of the major reasons he was not allowed to audible while with the Falcons, and he struggled mightily in the WC offense when they ran it in Atlanta. So, while he WAS a very talented QB and an extraordinary playmaker, I don't feel he could run the same offense that our QB's are trained to run.

One theory I have is that Andy Reid is bringing Michael Vick to Philly, as insurance for a McNabb injury. Along the way, Andy will sprinkle in some plays for Vick to run (wish he would run that by me first) and get him back in the groove of being an NFL QB on and off the field. I would not be the least bit surprised if Vick maintains a very low profile while in Philly and come next off-season, the Eagles then trade a rehabilitated Michael Vick to a team like the Raiders, Rams or Vikings for a high (2nd or 3rd round draft pick). Say what you will about the Eagles, but they are ALWAYS looking at the future (remember them drafting Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis - when they had a pro-bowl secondary of Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent and Dawk). Just keep this theory in your back pocket.

Finally, to some of the Eagles fans who have said, "I can't support the Eagles anymore," well my sentiment is to not let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. If you have supported this team as long as I have, outside of them signing Osama Bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I can never imagine a scenario where I don't pull for this team. Michael Vick will never be a favorite of mine, but trading in my allegiance isn't even a thought. The team is FAR greater than any one individual and if you chose not to be a fan b/c they signed someone who the NFL and the US legal system agreed served their time, then go cheer for some other upstart, fad team. That's not what the Eagles fan base is about. It's about passion and it's about somehow getting up after another year of disappointment. All any Eagles fan talks about is winning and I GUARAN-DAMN-TEE you that if the Eagles play well this year, you front-running jabroni's will hop right back on the bandwagon. True fans support their teams through good and bad. Several years ago, the Phillies number 2 pitcher Brett Myers beat-up his wife in Boston, but I bet you have long forgotten that while wearing your 2008 Phillies World Champion Shirts. People deserve second chance. I'm willing to give Vick one (regardless of who he decided to sign with) and I'm willing to give you fickle, flip-flopping fans one as well.

Hate Vick all you want. But if your hatred for 1 player over the other 51 is so great that you would stop pulling for the Eagles, then we don't need you to begin with. Sports fanaticism is about winning, losing, getting your heart stomped on and somehow always holding out for a little bit of hope. It's about loyalty and passion. It's about debating, second-guessing, smack-talking and humility. Have your opinions and express them freely, but if you can honestly start cheering for another team and drop the one you root for b/c of this signing, then I must question whether you were really a true fan to begin with?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

There's Football and There's Everything Else...

Just a couple of things to speak about on this mid-August day. First off, decent outing by Pedro last night. Exactly what I expected, and not bad considering the guy hasn't pitched in the majors in a year. I appreciate that he is a competitor who has pitched on the biggest stage, without flinching. If he can somehow stay healthy, I think our staff is much improved (coupled with the Cliff Lee addition). Hopefully we can get Brett Meyers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey back to bolster the pen and Brad Lidge will pull his head out of his ass (spoken like a true Philly fan).

Well, the Eagles first pre-season game is tonight and I am psyched. It's the RETURN OF FOOTBALL. I know my fiance shutters at this thought, b/c it means my attention scale on Saturday, Sundays, Monday nights and some Thursday nights will be equivalent to a....a....sorry, we were talking about football right? Absolutely love this time of year.

Anyway, I don't get to discouraged by the Eagles consistently mediocre pre-season play. The play calling is as vanilla as it gets, and the scores are usually the least important things. Let's hope we don't suffer any further injuries, which being Philly fans, you know how that drill goes. Here are 10 things I will be looking for tonight (mind you the first teams are only supposed to play a little over a quarter):

1- How will Joe Mays do as our starting MLB and will he be a total liability if forced to cover a TE or RB?
2- Will Winston "roadkill" Justice (who is the starting tonight for the injured Shawn Andrews) be the human turnstile he was in his nightmare start against the NY Giants in 2007? If so, #5 better wear body armor.
3- LeSean "Shady" McCoy are you as good in actual games as you have been in camp & can you block?
4- How will the triumvirate of Dawgs do (Max Jean-Gilles, Reggie Brown & Sean Jones, who I hope replaces Quintin Demps in the starting line-up)?
5- I'm hoping the Five&Dime connection goes deep at least once (note, that's the name I just came up with for Donovan to DeSean)
6- Will Jason Peters be the dominant left tackle that Andy Reid and the Eagles front office believe he is?
7- Can Jeremy Maclin contribute THIS YEAR and will be as dynamic of a returner as he was in college?
8- Is young Bryan Smith who bulked up to 250 going to be any type of contributor this season
9- Is Kevin Curtis more of the 1,000 yard receiver of 2007 or the injury-proned 2008 version?
10- How will Sean McDermott's defense differ from JJ's? Granted, this will be hard to tell from a pre-season game.

Speaking of football, the Dawgs had their first inter-scrimmage game of the Fall and received some impressive performances. Richard Samuel (who will be our best tailback this season) had 5 carries for 108 yards and 2 TD's (including a 65 yard scamper). He also scored on a 70 yd catch. Orson Charles (a true freshman who will be a monster) had 3 catches for 59 yards, AJ Green (who is a monster) had 69 yards and a TD. Joe Cox was a very crisp 9-13, 158 yards and 2 TD's. They did play a little defense too, led by Rod Battle a senior who apparently was unstoppable with 3.5 sacks. Exhale, it's just a scrimmage.

Couple of cool links here. First one is a link that was leaked regarding the Sixers new road uniforms - I like these a ton. Thank G-d the shooting stars are just a faded memory..

Here's a preview of Ray Emery's Flyers mask. In case you are wondering that is "Smokin" Joe Frazier on one side, Bernard Hopkins on the other and Rocky on top (I actually thought one side was was Donovan, but read it was Hopkins). Apparently Emery is a big boxing fan - shocker! Personally I think the concept is cool but the helmet itself lacks orange, which is synonymous w/the Flyers. Jay Ariano, this is for you....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly...

A lot of news coming out of Eagles camp early. The defense suffered a potentially crushing blow when starting MLB Stewart Bradley was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Make no mistake, this is a HUGE loss, as many believed Bradley was primed for a pro-bowl season. With a new defensive coordinator, losing your MLB is a big, big loss. Joe "Say Hey Willie" Mays will get the first-team reps, with Omar Gaither chomping at the bit to get back in the starting line-up. The early word on Mays is that despite him being undersized at 5'10 and 245 -- the guy hits like a mack truck and he hits everything that moves. The only good news in this injury thing is that Bradley's injury happened early enough in camp that whomever becomes the new starter will get lots and lots of reps w/the first team. Also, Bradley should be able to make a full return for the 2010 season.

Great to hear that the Jeff Lurie said no one will ever wear #20 as long as he is the owner of the Eagles. Traditionally, the Eagles don't really retire numbers (Reggie White's #92 was the last number they retired), and if they decided to bring that practice back, it should start with #20. Great move, Lurie.

FINALLY, first round pick Jeremy Maclin got his arse into camp this AM. Maclin who many believe could get some serious playing time this season, should help tremendously in the return game. Hopefully we won't continue to put DeSean Jackson in harm's way (since he is far and away our best WR) and we can now use Maclin as a punt returner.

Some great news is that it appears Brian Westbrook is ahead of schedule in his return from ankle surgery. Early word is that he looks AND feels great. Hopefully Westy can have a big bounce- back year. What a sick offense we could have if he and Maclin can give us something.

Note to Jacqua (pronounced "Ganja") Parker - you aren't that good, so kindly put down the dope, buddy. Like my buddy Derrick said this AM, how do you wait to training camp to bust out the ganja? The dude had an entire off-season and he picks now to light-up. Brilliant. Apparently they were OL Todd Herremans car...hmm, interesting story.

Phils continue to be up and down. I'm done with Jamie Moyer. I don't care if the guy hasn't pitched out of the pen in 35 years, his ass belongs in the pen (I'm sure most fans probably believe he belongs in an easy-chair). There's no way you can say that the 7-2 JA Happ and his sub 3.00 ERA should go back to the pen. This kid has earned the right to start for the Phils and I will be very disappointed if he heads back to the pen b/c of Moyer or Pedro.

The Sixers signed Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey this week. Forgive me for drooling on myself, while I drift off to sleep.

Props to former Diamond Dog and current Chicago White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham has been voted the American League Rookie of the Month for July. In 27 games, Beckham led all AL rookies with a .330 (32-97) batting average, 32 hits, three home runs, 18 RBIs, 10 doubles and a .526 slugging percentage.

In Other News:

  • Just heard that Donovan McNabb is the most popular athlete in Philadelphia, followed by Chase Utley. Primoz Brezec is a close third.
  • Dale Murphy (former Brave and Phillie) has a son who is expected to be a starter for the Dolphis this year -- how old do you feel?
  • Anyone see Jeremy Piven on Monday Night Raw? My favorite part was when he jumped off the top rope and was caught by John Cena. Hilarious. Piven also was in Atlanta last week and stopped in at the Varsity.
  • Speaking of Piven, I think Entourage is dancing dangerously close to "jumping the shark." I absolutely love the show, but if I have to watch any more episodes that focus on E and Turtle, I'm gonna write HBO.
  • Dear Atlanta radio stations, why do you suck? (not you Dave fm, not you)
  • Does the 4th photo of Putin's pictorial make anyone else a little uncomfortable
  • And finally, as my fiance reminded me when we first started dating --- everyone farts...yes, even the great Tiger Woods. A lot of controversy over who dealt this one. Fartgate 2009 continues. You decide...