Michael Vicks' for the Birds, Literally!

Alan LupianiCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 14: Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks at a press conference at the NovaCare Complex on August 14, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vick signed a one-year contract, with a second year option, with the Eagles.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Did anyone notice but me? Michael Vick went from being a Falcon to an Eagle, keeping his teams' logo in the majestic bird's of flight realm.


Mere coincidence? 


Just a great marketing move?

We're not talking bird brains or chicken feed here, we are talking flying from one top notch feathered friend to another....

Big Bird has never been so proud.

Wild Canadian geese are stopping traffic everywhere in celebration of the event.

Turkey never tasted so good.

It appears that this story has transformed itself from "dog days" to "bird bliss."

We are witnessing first wing, eerrr I mean hand, to the re-making of Michael Vick thanks to well, birds.

Let's take a closer look at the falcon first.

According to Wikipedia, The Peregrine Falcon can fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, making them the fasted moving creatures on Earth. Falcons also rank at the top of avian intelligence, and are also known for their remarkable vision, possessing visual acuity 2.6 times that of humans.

For those of us who have watched Vick on the football field, one can easily draw comparisons between the grace of falcons to Vicks' athletic accomplishments.

Here's where the story get's a bit strange and quite possibly, ironic.

The term falconry describes the sport of training of falcons, hawks, and eagles to hunt game for humans.


Now, I know it's a bit of a jump, but, if one were to take a closer look at Vick's recent indiscretions regarding the training of canines for dog fighting, an animal based "sport" widely condemned and considered illegal in our country an other parts of the free world, isn't it just a tad bit ironic that the term falconry describes a similar animal based "sport" related to the two avian species, falcons and eagles, in which Michael Vick find's himself most closely associated with these days?

Again, do we conclude:  

A) "Mere coincidence?"


B) "Is something more thought out and intentional going on here?" 

I am leaning more towards option B.

Back to Wikipedia for more clarification.

According to Wikipedia, the sport of falconry involves the training of raptors (birds) to hunt game for humans.  

Furthermore, A falconer describes one who trains falcons, and a austringer describes someone who trains/flies a hawk or eagle.

The popularity of falconry is at it's highest point in the last 300 years and the sports roots can be traced back to ancient times.

Falconry has always been associated with status and nobility for reasons including:

1) Eggs of birds of prey have always been considered rare and precious making them very expensive and only accessible to the noble and wealthier classes.

2) One requires a great amount of time, free space, and money to raise and train the birds properly.

Even during feudal times in Japan, the warrior class of the samurai put strict restrictions on who was allowed to practice falconry.

Similarly, falconry has always been considered a virtuous sport with practical purposes. 

For example, falcons and hawks have been trained to control pests in urban areas such as landfills, commercial buildings and airports.  

In rural areas of Kazakhstan, Golden Eagles have been utilized to hunt wolves and foxes in order to protect livestock.

Lastly, falconry is considered a legal sport in the United States expect in Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

It should be pointed out that there are some key differences to falcons and eagles.

1) Falcons are long winged raptors, which make them faster and more versatile than Eagles. Falcons are also recognized for their intelligence.

2) Eagles are broad winged raptors known more for sheer power, strength and size. Also, eagles are widely considered proud and unrelenting, representing independence, freedom, and wisdom. Besides that, the Bald Eagle is the United States national symbol and one of it's protected species.

That's a pretty good blend of notable characterizations and associations to attach Vick too, don't you think?  

I certainly do.
Now that I have outlined the ancient and still very popular sport of falconry, I can start to draw a hypothesis regarding Vick's recent indiscretions with dogs and his subsequent choice to sign on with the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the topic of dog fighting.  

Similar to falconry, dog fighting harkens back to ancient times.  For example, dog fighting was a popular sport to watch at the Roman Colosseum, considered by many scholars to be the first outdoor stadium ever built.

Dog fighting also involves a great deal of time, space, and financial resources, and dog fighting breeders have made breeding the animals a virtual science through the years.  

However, unlike falconry, this practice has historically been associated with a more brutish, inhumane, and warrior like mentality and less with civility and noble behavior.  I am assuming that this has to do with pitting the animals against each other to the death rather than utilizing the animal for another purpose such as hunting game or managing environmental situations.  

*The sport of cock fighting would fall into a similar category.

Also, dog fighting is often considered a violent and deadly blood sport because the animals often fight to the death in a savage and horrific manner.  It also involves baiting; the practice of using weaker dogs as "bait" or sacrificial lambs to be brutalized and killed in order to train the more lethal fighters.  

Lastly, dog fighting has been widely considered to be inhumane, illegal, and and an overwhelmingly unacceptable activity in many parts of the world with little or no desirable purposes or outcomes, other than in the practice of gambling.  

Which brings me back to Vick.

I have rambled on enough in this article regarding bird and dog sports and all that surrounds them. I am not going to get into the social/political/historical aspects of animal sports anymore. I simply would like to draw some conclusions regarding Vick's choice in signing with the Eagles.

From a pure marketing perspective, I give a standing ovation to Vick and his management. 

Not only are the Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love, something that Vick desperately needs these days, the city of Philadelphia is the oldest and most prominent example of our American way of life.  

Philadelphia is the site where many of our national treasures are located and historical events have taken place, including:

  • the site of the Liberty Bell.
  • the signing of, "The Declaration of Independence." 
  • and oh yes, Ben Franklin resided there.  
Also, Philadelphia was the United States' first national capital before it moved to Washington, DC.

Coupled with the fact the the American Bald Eagle is our national symbol and also the name of Philadelphia football team, well, Mr. Vick, can you say,

"I have hit the the fast track to resurrecting my name and reputation?" 

Perhaps we can find it somewhere deep in our hearts to suggest, "Perhaps Michael would make a better falconer/austringer than a dog breeder/fighter.  He deserves a second chance."    

And, what if Vick takes on a key role for the Eagles in their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl?

Many of us may be more inclined to use terms describing Vick's play, such as: "flying like an eagle, and "soaring with the wind" and other catchy eagle friendly phrases that compare Vick's play to the majestic and graceful movements of this wonderful bird, dawg!

Stay tuned and get ready to crank up, "Fly like an eagle to the sea, fly like an eagle and take Michael Vick with me."


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