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?


  1. Damn, I don't know what to say. I guess I don't need to call you now. Man, I tell you, I wish I could post this blog on the message board here at work. Like you said, IT'S ONE GUY. If anyone's hatred for guy is that great that you root for someone else, here's an umbrella Mr./Mrs. Fairweather. Have a nice life! I wasn't for the signing of Brett Favre for my Vikings and still don't think Jackson or Rosenfields is the answer, but guess what? I still root for my Vikes week in and week out.

    Thanks for the eloquent words my man. I can now take a deep sigh and respect society again.

  2. Well-said, brother, especially your comments to the so-called fans who are jumping off the bandwagon. As I've told you in various e-mails and discussions since this happened, I still think another shoe is going to drop because otherwise this just doesn't make sense. Given the NFL's crazy rules about when the 3rd string QB can play, Vick will have to be the the No. 2 QB. Some suggest they may list him as a WR or RB so they can get him in games. Interesting, but I'm guessing the league will have something to say about that especially since Reid has insisted publicly that Vick is a QB. As for DMac endorsing this move, I see this as another situation where he just can't win. If he had criticized the move, everyone would have called him selfish, said he wasn't being a team guy and that he was threatened by a guy who was brought in to help him and the team win. (Ross: I swear I can just hear the piling on that would have happened had he reacted to it negatively.) He says he endorses the Vic move and folks say he's lying. He just can't win. Here's what I believe about that: Donovan has been in the league what 11-12 years and still hasn't won the SB. He's sees an ultra talented guy who, if used correctly, could make 2 or 3 plays a game that could make a huge difference and he says 'yes. i'm fine with that. i just want to win the SB.' To me it's really that simple. Interesting point about the teams that didn't use the Wildcat. I hadn't thought about that at all, but I'm not sure that's a factor. But you do make an interesting point. I don't worry too much about DMac losing his rhythm any more than if he was in the game and they handed off for 6 straight plays. Not that the Eagles ever do that, but you see my point.

  3. Why the hell were you up at 5 in the morning?

  4. The Eagles I believe are a better team with Vick. I hope to see the #7 vs the Falcons. How weird and excitging it will be seeing Vick in an ugly green uniform. Great insight on the Eagles probably trading Vick next year for a draft pick. This is a great opportunity for Vick to get back into the NFL and get some experience.

  5. There are some fans such as myself that feel under valued by Eagles management. First, they let Dawk ski away and now they sign a dog torturing pariah apparently just to run the Wildcat (I know, DeSean Jackson could never learn such a complicated football play!) Anyway I feel just like Vick has a right to play (although lawyers and doctors who commit felonies lose their profession forever), I have the right to be outraged that he is on my team. I know after 18 months of prison, he is probably fully rehabilitated after a corrupt mindset responsible for 6 years of systematic dog killing... I'm all for Megan's law even though sex offenders have technically paid their debt to society... I keep hearing how Eagles fans will be back once the Eagles start winning with Vick. But this is a complicated moral issue for some and it shouldn't be trivialized. I believe fans have the right to challenge the moral hypocrisy of their team. I have talked to plenty of Philadelphians who are not sure how to be a fan of this team. That sentiment is valid to them. If the Eagles end up losing this year, this may be the end of the increasingly shattered trust that exists between Eagles management and their fans. I have lived and breathed the Eagles for many years. I'm a little sad that the Eagles have put me in a position where I can't look forward to my Sunday on a bar stool with an Andre Waters jersey on. I want to root for them, but I'm not sure how at this point..... Get ready for a media circus tonight... Ross, I'm enjoying this lively discourse. I respect your opinion but I thought I'd add mine.

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  7. Matt, I definitely hear your point and it is valid, but did you know that Michael Vick served the most severe dog-fighting penalty that any offender has ever served (this came directly from the Atlanta Humane Society). Again, doesn't take away from his heinous act, but at what point is it okay to resume your life? And the doctors and lawyers who lose their profession are disbarred, which is a choice made by their professions’ governing body. The NFL has already given Vick the green-light to play again, so I think the comparison with other professionals isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. I believe the Eagles players and coaches think Michael Vick will help them be a better ballclub. That is to be determined. Jeff Lurie, who was clearly strong-armed into this decision, definitely has his hide on the line. He's made public statements about how he must see Vick be "very involved" and stay proactive in the community and around the country. If he is not, "this will be a big mistake," according to Lurie. To quote the great Herbie Brooks, "The name on the front of the jersey means a helluva lot more than the name on the back of the jersey." That's how I feel here. Will I always root for Dawk regardless of where he plays? Yes. Will I root for Dawk when he plays against the Eagles -- not so much. I love the player, but the team is what I grew up cheering for. It wasn't just Jaws, it was Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael, Bill Bergey, "Big Foot" Harrison, Randy Logan, Steve Spagnola, Stan Walters. It was that team, not just one individual. Based on what I saw, heard and read, it sounded like there was a mixture of cheers and jeers for Vick, but I believe without any hesitation, if we win the fans of Philadelphia will move past this. I realize this is a moral issue, but here is my question... When Michael Irvin lay motionless on the ground in Philly (his career had come to an end) and fans were standing and applauding - where is the moral character in that? Again, I'm far from a Michael Irvin fan, but to cheer a player who isn't moving and then talk about morality as a fan doesn't add up to me.

  8. Its hard to argue with you when you know my soft spot for Stan Walters!I didn't cheer when Irvin went down so I don't exactly get the analogy. I just feel that their are people that are making fans like me feel guilty for questioning the Eagles signing of Vick. It is weird to me that fans are getting angry at me for being bothered by the Vick signing. You know I'm not a fair weather fan. i came of age as a fan in the Marion Campbell era, so I'm through thick and thin. I'm not discounting your stance. It appears that most fans are coming around to Vick. But to quote Mike Missanelli, "I'm just not there yet". If you get a chance read this article. It sums up my problems with accepting Vick too early. (you'll have to cut and paste it.

  9. Matt Money, there's no questioning your loyalty and I don't have a problem with fans questioning the Vick signing. That's what fans do. I guess my issue lies with fans who are ready to trade in this loyalty. I'm all for second-guessing team decisions, but are you truly and honestly so put off by the Eagles that you would not cheer for them or not watch their games? I just don't see it happening.

    As far as Michael Irvin goes, there were many people in the stadium who stood and cheered while he lay motionless on the VET turf. Another example are the fans that beat the shit out of opposing teams fans simply for cheering for their teams. Now, these same fans (present company excluded) are up in arms over Vick? I feel like that's so hypocritical.