It's amazing what the stroke of a pen can do to a town.
As I write this piece, it is 11 p.m. EDT. It has been just over 24 hours since the Philadelphia Eagles shocked football fans worldwide with the signing of Michael Vick, arguably one of the most notorious sports figures we have ever seen.
With that being said, you're initial reaction to this news is probably the same as mine.
Why? Andy Reid, Joe Banner, Jeffery Lurie, what in the world are you thinking?
Let's look at the player first. Not to beat you with statistics here, but Michael Vick's career quarterback rating is 75.7. His career completion percentage is 54%. However, he is the only quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, and before his jail time was considered one of the best overall athletes in the NFL.
The question will be, "Does he still have it"? And that's a great point. Two years away from the game will definitely affect one's conditioning. During his bankruptcy proceedings, he said that he feels he has another ten seasons in him. Only time will tell on that one.
Andy Reid isn't showing his cards when it come to Vick, so we can only speculate as to what his role will actually be on this team. Donovan McNabb may have shed some light on this issue inadvertently, when he said that an offense with Vick, Brian Westbrook and rookie Lesean McCoy in the backfield with McNabb himself lined up at wide receiver would be a deadly combination. I really didn't put much stock in it, until after the fifth time he mentioned in his post-game press conference last night. A Freudian slip, perhaps?
The Birds did run the wildcat offense last year, sparingly. Wideout Desean Jackson was generally the player under center. Insiders report that Reid is totally enamoured by it, and wants to expand it further in 2009. Who better than potentially the best athlete in the game to fill that spot as a triple threat?
Most importantly, let's step away from the football aspect of this, and look at the man Philadelphia just signed.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie talks about how this guy can use his fame as a platform for animal rights. Lurie went so far as to say that if Vick was not "proactive" in animal rights advocacy, he was gone.
Coach Reid talks about the mistakes his own kids have made, and what a second chance did for them.
As far as the player himself? This is a man who openly admits to mistakes he made. He calls himself naive, says he initially chalked it up to being part of his culture. These aren't valid excuses from an intelligent man.
Let's call it how it is. Does anyone who watched Vick's press conference (available on Eagles.com if you want to check it out) accuse this man of being a Rhodes scholar? No disrespect, but Michael Vick does not sound like the smartest man in the world. Maybe he was impressionable, and maybe it's possible that he really didn't see a huge problem with what he was doing until he went behind bars.
Overall, this is what I think we're looking at.....
Philadelphia is bringing Michael Vick in for three reasons. The coaching staff and front office sincerely want to help rehabilitate this guy. I truly believe that. Andy Reid is a man who watched his own kids go through a public skewering, and in turn developed a soft heart for another felon. And Jeffrey Lurie really wants to see more awareness when it comes to dogfighting.
There's the on the field product to think about. Put this super exciting player at the helm of a hip, current, fun to watch offense. He might surprise you and look like He-Man out there. Even if he don't, he's a solid backup to a sometimes inconsistent, somewhat fragile McNabb. No losses there, right?
Don't mistake it, though. This is a potential PR goldmine for the Eagles, also. The team is looked at as a cold, "all business, no compassion" type unit. Pushing fan favorites like Jeff Garcia, Lito Sheppard, and Brian Dawkins out the door did not help their image much at all in recent years.
But this Mike Vick thing could change things. If he says and does all the right things, he is looked upon as reformed, and a good citizen. The organization looks like the kind folks who showed a lost soul the path to righteousness.
On the other hand, if the social experiment fails, Vick gets shown the door, and the Eagles look "socially conscious". No losses there, either.
Regardless of how this turns out, everyone looks better for it in the long run. It is, what it is.