Thursday night was supposed to be a calm, relaxing night in the city of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Eagles were going to officially kick off their preseason by hosting the New England Patriots at Lincoln Financial Field.
Considering it was preseason, the only importance of this game seemed to be how Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would play after missing the 2008 season with an ACL injury. About halfway through the game, that main story was replaced by the shocking story of the Eagles signing Michael Vick to a two-year deal.
The city of Philadelphia entered a state of shock when the news story was first released about Vick’s deal with the Eagles. For so long, rumors had been flying around that Vick would eventually sign with a team, but the details of teams who were interested were not released.
All of a sudden, a relaxing Thursday night for most fans in Philadelphia turned into a night of confusion. Why would Joe Banner & Co. sign Vick when we already had Donovan McNabb? Better yet, how did this deal even come about?
As expected, ESPN pushed the hype of Brady’s return aside to discuss Vick flying from the nest of the Falcons to the Eagles. According to Chris Mortensen and Sal Paolantonio, both had recently asked Eagles head coach Andy Reid if the team had any interest in signing Vick. His response to both of them was simple: The team had no interest in signing the former Pro Bowl quarterback.
No wonder the city of Philadelphia has entered a state of shock; there were no signs that the Eagles were even showing the slimmest bit of interest in signing Vick. This deal was obviously completed behind closed doors, as Reid and McNabb made it clear in their press conferences that they both helped bring in Vick and the team had been discussing negotiations with him and his agent for over a week.
Whether it was through text messaging, Facebook, or Twitter, the news of Vick signing with the Birds spread quickly to the fans in the Philadelphia area. No matter how the news was discovered, one thing is for sure in the city of Brotherly Love: There is definitely a set of mixed emotions among fans about the Eagles signing Vick.
First, there is the set of fans who are excited about the opportunity to bring in a quarterback with the talent level Vick is capable of bringing to the Eagles. They have seen him perform in the past and know that the team could find a way to take advantage of him on offense, whether it be through the Wildcat offense or a quarterback who takes a few snaps every now and then.
Then there is the set of fans who are now embarrassed to even be part of cheering this team on after what Vick did in the past. They will always judge him as the player who was cruel to dogs for no other reason than self-enjoyment, and he will always be seen that way, no matter how many times he apologizes.
No matter what happens over the next couple of weeks with Vick, there are always going to be two sides with two different opinions on whether or not this was the appropriate move for the Eagles to make.
Despite all of the controversy and headlines this signing will make for the upcoming 2009 season, the Eagles organization should be acknowledged for giving Vick this second chance of new life in the NFL. He deserves it.
What Vick did in the past with his involvement in dogfighting is something that can never be taken back. However, the man has paid his dues and has done everything in his will to be given the opportunity for a fresh start.
He is starting from the bottom and pretty much has nothing left from his 10-year, $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. He has sat out the last two seasons in the NFL and served a 23-month jail sentence. The man has learned from his mistakes and wants to make up for it and do good. So why can’t we let him?
What Vick in the past was cruel, and there is no question on whether or not the Eagles will have to deal with more issues now that he is part of the team. There is a good chance that there will be PETA protesters outside of Lincoln Financial Field every home game for the Eagles this season.
The team’s trip to Atlanta during Week 13 should be an interesting return for Vick considering he will be playing against a Falcons team he spent six seasons playing for before his sentence.
The Eagles should not be worried about the drama that is heading their way in the future. This is Philadelphia we’re talking about, the same team that successfully handled Owens before his eventual release.
When all is said and done, the Eagles were probably the best fit for a player like Vick to end up with. They have a successful franchise that knows how to discipline their players, and Joe Banner, Jeffrey Lurie, and Andy Reid know what they have to do to keep Vick in line.
The interviews show a different type of Vick than we saw two years ago. This is a man who knows he has done wrong and wants to do whatever he can to make things right. He realizes that the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and he wants to take advantage of the opportunity the Eagles have offered him.
Vick appears to be a changed man. In his interview, he stated he wants to get involved with the Philadelphia community and the humane society to help prevent animal cruelty. He is grateful for this second chance to turn his life around with the Eagles, and the fans should be just as grateful to take advantage of the opportunity that lies in front of them.
Obviously, Vick is not the same type of player he was two years ago and won’t be replacing Donovan McNabb anytime soon. However, we all know what he is capable of doing with the football on the field when he is at the top of his game. He makes a great quarterback to have behind McNabb, better than what they had with Kevin Kolb.
Give it time, Eagles fans; Vick may end up becoming useful for the offense in 2009.