Thoughts on the Eagles signing Michael Vick

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick, and the Eagles, ran away with the
headlines yesterday from the Phillies

Yesterday Cliff Lee went eight strong innings for the Phillies, striking out eight and allowing just one run against the Chicago Cubs. It was the third straight win for Lee since joining the Phillies and the in the process the Phillies completed their first sweep of the Cubs in Chicago since 1984. Coming off of a demoralizing sweep to the surging Florida Marlins at home the Phillies took a big stride yesterday to reassert themselves as the team to beat in the National League.
Not long ago Cliff Lee was the hottest name in Philly sports.
Not anymore!

But none of that will be discussed today because the Philadelphia Eagles stole the headlines all across the North American landscape by announcing that they had signed Michael Vick.

The same Vick that was sentenced to jail time for his part in operating a dog fighting ring on his property. The same Vick that many NFL teams had proclaimed that had no interest in. The same Vick that embarrassed the Atlanta Falcons organization. The same Vick that will be suspended by the NFL for his dog fighting actions before he is allowed to formally return to the NFL playing field.

One quick glance at my Facebook news feed and the people I follow on Twitter tells the story that the Philadelphia fan is not happy about this acquisition. While I understand where the anger and outrage comes from, I am not ready to say that this is a terrible move by the Eagles. Let's look at this from two sides of the coin.

The Public Relations DebacleThere is already an angry jury against Vick in Philadelphia

The major problem here is that the Eagles are seemingly going against what they have preached for the past decade under Andy Reid. The Eagles have boasted their pride in having a roster of good character people. Yes, they have had some incidents that would make people frown, but they have never had a convicted felon on their active roster, until now.

It is no secret that the public relations image of the Eagles is tarnished. Some fans refuse to let go of the infamous "Hoagiegate" or the "gold standard" comment. Recently the firing of a handicapped employee over his Facebook status, the parting ways with Brian Dawkins, and the Reid scolding of the media over leaked injury news have not been sitting well with the fans. What makes the actions of the Eagles look even worse is the tremendous success and terrific public relations approach by the team in red across the street (a championship helps too).

Now the Eagles are expecting their fans to be excited about adding Vick, one of the most hated athletes in sports right now, to their beloved football team. Somebody should tell the Eagles that it does not quite work that way.

I urged fans to hold off on their negative out lashes until they heard the Eagles side of the story. They must have done their homework on this and the fact that former NFL coach and all around top class guy Tony Dungy is backing Vick should speak volumes. Let us hear what they have to say before we cast this decision off as a terrible idea.

The Football Decision
From a football sense, adding Vick to the Eagles brings some
possible excitement and diversity to an already potent offense

If Donovan McNabb should miss a game, or two, or eight due to injury who would you rather see running the offense; Vick or Kevin Kolb?

I know that Vick is not a fantastic quarterback (I was always on record as saying Matt Schaub was better, naturally) but he does bring more to the table than Kolb. Vick brings more diversity to the offensive game plan. Last season saw the emergence of the "wildcat formation", which fueled the success with the upstart Miami Dolphins. Many speculated that Vick would be the perfect fit for that type of scheme, and the Eagles experimented with the formation last year with DeSean Jackson.

If Reid has wildcat type plays in store for 2009 it is his responsibility to have the players that will best be suited for his game plan. Vick may be another piece of the puzzle to plugging in the right players in the right situations. Plus can you imagine a formation with McNabb, Wstbrook, Jackson and Vick all lining up at the line of scrimmage? Nobody will know who to cover. Which brings me to my next point.

For years defensive coordinators have had to budget their time wisely in preparing for the Eagles offense. McNabb and Westbrook have been the main focus for the past few seasons and Jackson and Kevin Curtis are becoming more problems for defensive game plans. Now add a versatile Vick to the mix and defensive coordinators will have to work 70 hours a week to get a good game plan for all of the weapons the Eagles will challenge them with.

The Bottom Line
Donovan McNabb is backing Michael Vick as he joins the Eagles

Vick has served his time according to the judicial system. He did not get off easy. He paid the maximum amount of time for his crimes by law. He deserves a second chance like anyone coming out of jail. You can say that he shouldn't be allowed in the NFL but that is just silly. If a team feels that Vick brings a better chance of winning they owe it to their fans to go out and get him.

Players get second chances and succeed. Irving Fryar turned his life around. Ray Lewis may have turned his around. Josh Hamilton was last year's success story, although he may be having some problems lately. While these players did not do the things that Vick did, why does Vick not deserve the same second chance?

What Vick did was wrong. But two years later he deserves a chance to redeem himself in any way possible. Wouldn't you want the same opportunity for you, a loved one, family member or close friend?

All I am saying is give Vick a chance. Are you with me?

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