Who was it that once said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"? Oh yeah, former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said that. Before him, it was originated by former UCLA coach Henry Sanders.
Apparently the sentiment is suddenly being felt by many fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. Earlier today, Eagles head coach Andy Reid announced that Michael Vick will be the new starter at quarterback ahead of Kevin Kolb. Just a few days ago, Reid maintained that Kolb would be the starter no matter how well Vick performed against Detroit last Sunday.
Two weeks into the regular season, Vick has clearly provided the Eagles offense with a spark. In the brief period Kolb played against Green Bay, he clearly struggled avoiding the pass rush and was off target with a number of throws.
In the prism of the "here and now" it is not hard to understand why Reid decided to hand the offense over to Vick. The struggles of the offensive line have made scrambling a necessity, and no quarterback scrambles better than Vick. Also, Vick has the experience which probably gives Philadelphia a better chance to win right now.
Being an Eagles fan myself, I have kept my ears open to all the quarterback drama in Philadelphia over the past year. Occasionally tuning in to Philadelphia sports talk radio, it is amazing to hear how opinions on Michael Vick have changed in a very short time.
According to many Eagles loyalists, Donovan McNabb was never good enough from the beginning. After suffering through the Bobby Hoying and Ty Detmer years, Eagles fans ridiculously booed the drafting of McNabb in 1999 because they preferred Ricky Williams.
McNabb brushed the boo birds aside long enough to lead the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. He did not always perform at his best in the biggest games, but at least the Eagles fans had hope every season. How many teams wish they could say the same?
Before the 2009 season, the Eagles shocked the football world by signing Vick to a contract after he had been cleared to re-enter the NFL following his jail term on dog fighting charges. Like a blind-side blitz, nobody in Philadelphia saw that coming. The team was already set at the position with McNabb starting and the young Kolb being groomed to take the reigns.
Expectedly, there was plenty of outrage in Philly after the Vick signing. Many, including myself, were sickened at the news of someone who had participated in the brutal torture and killings of living species suiting up in an Eagles uniform.
In 2009, McNabb missed two games with an injury and was replaced by Kolb, who went on to become the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in his first two starts. Eagles fans began to envision the possibility of Kolb taking over for McNabb, who only had one more year left on his contract.
When McNabb was finally traded to Washington before the 2010 NFL draft, there was mixed opinion in Philly about trading him to a division rival. However, the team was convinced Kolb was ready to take over. Many were comparing the move to Aaron Rodgers replacing Brett Favre in Green Bay. Overall, there was excitement in the Philadelphia air about the new start.
We all know that feelings of love can fade fast. Infatuation quickly changes it's target when something that looks better walks by. Kolb was expected to be accurate and in command in the opener against the Packers. After being harassed and haunted on blitzes by Clay Matthews, Kolb ended up on the turf with a concussion, surrounded by a cascade of loud boos from the always feisty Eagles fans.
Kolb goes out, Vick comes in. The Eagles come from behind to nearly catch the Packers, who ultimately prevailed 27-20. Skeptics turned into supporters as the familiar Vick infatuation began. The Vick magic continued in the victory at Detroit, showing off the legs and arm that made him famous at Virginia Tech and Atlanta.
All of a sudden, the tune changed on Philadelphia talk radio. The voices who wanted to ship McNabb out of town were now wishing the Redskins would ship him back by overnight FedEx. One bad half of football turned the average Eagles fan against the young Kolb, who only weeks ago was the object of their affection.
Once again, Michael Vick is the hot chick sitting at the bar. Everyone is staring at him, star-struck and google-eyed. Eagles fans suddenly lost their infatuation with Kolb because the more flashy Vick walked by in a moment of weakness.
Hopefully Vick's heart has truly changed. None of us is without sin and failure. God is in the forgiving business for all those who wish to receive. It would be wrong not to want Vick to turn his life around and learn from his mistakes, being an example to others who others who find themselves in self-inflicted trouble.
However, my warning to Eagles fans is: Don't fall in love just yet.
Vick has so far been contrite regarding his past and seems to take his NFL job more seriously this time around. However, pinning your hopes on him for the long term is a risky expectation. Don't forget the fact that Vick is one bad decision away from being expelled from the league. He already walked toward the edge of that plank during a birthday party this summer where a former dog-fighting partner was shot.
Although Vick had no direct connection with the shooting, he admittedly showed poor judgement in throwing a birthday party in a night club in the presence of a person who he was ordered not to associate with. Vick said he understands this is his last chance. He again showed remorse.
The Philly fans' sudden crush on Vick will last as long as he wins. Fans in most communities are largely fickle because, for them, winning is the bottom line. Observing the Eagles quarterback situation, and the ensuing roller coaster reactions, is a prime example of the inconsistent and unpredictable loyalties of the human race.