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Eagles Fans Howl at the Moon

(Photo courtesy Marcia White, The Easton Express-Times)

The plan was to write a nice summary about Lehigh preseason camp today, but sometimes a news story close to home causes everything to get upended - and the Michael Vick story does just that. Word spread through the preseason broadcast of the first Eagles preseason game last night, and rapidly found its way onto ESPN, the NFL network and everyone's front page today: Michael Vick, the talented QB fresh out of jail for torturing dogs and sponsoring dogfighting, was signed by the Eagles yesterday evening.

Despite an early radio campaign to drum up support (I actually heard a radio ad several weeks ago talking about Eagles fans dreaming of Michael Vick as an Eagle), almost to a person fans, commentators and observers think this is a horrible idea. Fans are not "excited" - as the radio ad would have you believe - they're sad. (And, no, not just the Eagle fans who happen to be dogs, like the one pictured.)

I have my own opinions on the matter.

First of all, I am of the belief that Michael Vick has done his time, and he deserves a second chance to play NFL football. Yes, (mostly white) dog-lovers might want to lock up Vick for the rest of his life, but the truth is that in a court of law Vick was convicted, was punished, and he's now a free man to pursue what he wants to pursue. There is a compelling reason for the NFL to punish Michael Vick more - losing dog-lovers and dog owners as fans in the future - but it's the NFL's decision whether that's something they care about or not. And, frankly, I don't think the NFL should go down the road of preventing him from playing - he's done his time, he should get the opportunity to show he can play.

However, the circumstances of his eligibility are a huge problem for any team. Currently, he's not allowed to suit up until Week 6 at the earliest - meaning Donovan McNabb has to sit around in limbo as the Eagles starting quarterback until mid-October. That's not fair to McNabb - who could be the only potential NFL hall-of-famer who has had to suffer criticism every year that he shouldn't be the starter, despite 4 NFC championship games and 1 Super Bowl appearance. (I mean, Eagles fans I know have actually tried to make cogent arguments that Kevin Kolb could step in easily for McNabb and replace him. This year. And, no, it wasn't Rush Limbaugh.)

The NFL, oddly enough, might have been better served by saying that Vick were eligible to practice and play with an NFL team right away. After all, he was an NFL starting quarterback when he left the game, and everyone has to assume he still has NFL-quality talent. It would not have been popular, but it would have minimized the distraction and not put a team in a strange limbo concerning Vick. And it would have given Vick a chance to play on a team right away that would be willing to use his services - and clearly, even with the distractions and the weird circumstances, multiple teams were interested.

(What - a pro sports league, hurt by dithering over issues regarding their stars? What is this, Major League Baseball?)

I know it will seem like some bitter Eagles fans don't want Vick because he's African-American and because he's spent time in jail. Vick, love him or hate him, sits squarely on the open sore of racism in this country, and whomever signed him was going to have to face (mostly white) fans and protesters in the face of the team that signed him. Perhaps since it's a black quarterback that might be the victim of Vick's return, from the Eagles' perspective that removes an important element of race from the signing that might be present at another club (imagine, say, it were Tony Romo's or Eli Manning's starting job that was threatened, and what those fans might say).

But the problems I have with the Vick signing have zero to do with race and everything to do with McNabb. I happen to beleive that McNabb deserves to start as long as he's physically able to do so. Hasn't McNabb done enough? Does he deserve having the distraction of Vick waiting in the wings until halfway through the year? I certainly don't think so. McNabb has been the heart and soul of the Eagles - and is the reason why many, many people have become Eagles fans. It's almost incomprehensible to see Vick take his place.

And now the Eagles - hated in the best of times by the rest of the NFL - becomes, to a lot of people, the team that sold their soul to get a championship, the Redskins of the modern era, or (even worse) the Yankees. A team that casts one hall-of-fame quarterback to the side to try to get another at a bargain, circuses be damned. It's not so much Vick, who deserves another chance. It's about McNabb, who has deserved a hell of a lot more admiration than he's been given over his time being the heart and soul of the Eagles.


Anonymous said…
How soon people want to forgive and forget just because the guy's a jock. Vick not only organized a dog fighting ring but he also tortured and executed them. Yeah, so they were "only dogs", not humans. What if Vick was a baby abuser or pushed drugs at a local playground? Would people be so forgiving then? Probably. Where would we draw the line?

But if it were Joe Schmo at Delta House and he were caught with an underage drunken high schooler everyone would be up in arms and he'd be kicked outta school and prosecuted. Lehigh U wouldn't be giving the kid a scond, or in the case of Mikey Vick, a third, fourth and maybe fifth chance.

The guy's a bad egg. And the Eagles should have aborted this idea the minute it was suggested.

Besides, he pretty well sucked as a QB before he got busted.
Anonymous said…
The guy held dogs underwater to kill them used battery cables to electrocute them, choked them to death and hung them. Leave it to the Eagles to pick up that piece of crap. I hope he feels the same pain some day that those dogs felt.
Anonymous said…
Way to inject your own racism into this story! Do you really think animal lovers are only (or mostly)white? Where do you get your supporting data? Do you truly think animal lovers would take it easy on a white QB? The animal rights people who tend to support the left wing politics are far from a racist lot.

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