We all watch the same game, and we all see the same hits. Michael Vick releases the ball down-field and gets popped either too high, too low, or late, forcing him to the ground. He writhes in pain for a few seconds, but shakes himself off and gets up.
Not a flag in sight.
If his name was Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or really anyone else, the yellow hankies would be out all over the place and fines would be handed down the next day. But, because he's Michael Vick, the flags remain in the zebras' back pockets and the league remains conveniently unaware of the beating he takes on a weekly basis.
Just to be clear before we move any further, I don't believe this is a race issue.
I'm not saying I think the prejudice comes because he's black. I think it comes because he is who he is. His history as a ruthless dog-killer is fresh in the minds of the officials and, because of that, the hits he takes don't seem so egregious.
Take for example, when the Eagles played the Colts. Trent Cole came around Manning's blind side and swiped at the football. His hand just happened to skim Manning's helmet, and he was flagged for a "blow to the head."
The hit wasn't late, it wasn't intentional, and it certainly wasn't a "blow" to anything. His head happened to get in the way of Cole's hand. I would be surprised if Manning could honestly even say he felt it.
Vick, on the other hand, is clearly getting hit late. After the ball is out of his hands he's getting leveled by guys who are leading with their helmets, or are aiming for his head or legs to try and put him out of the game.
Week after week, play after play this continues to happen, but -- other than a hit in Week 9 by the Colts' Gary Brackett that was too big and blatantly illegal to ignore -- it doesn't get called.
Head coach Andy Reid recently came out against the league and the officials for not protecting more when Vick takes off and runs, but I think he's missing the point there entirely. While I do believe the officials would protect guys like Manning or Brady were they to take off and run, there is also a risk a quarterback is accepting when he becomes a runner.
As far as that goes, Reid himself could prevent the hits Vick takes if he would just run the ball more often. LeSean McCoy trains to take those hits and can absorb them without much of a problem.
Vick, on the other hand, isn't built to sustain those shots and has proven somewhat fragile during his career.
All bets are off once Vick takes off and runs, but the hits inside the pocket are seen and simply ignored. There's one official on the field who does nothing but watch the quarterback, so there's no way they're just missing the calls.
For example, in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears, a Bears defender wrapped Vick up and, according to the officials, stopped his momentum and in turn ended the play. But when that defender picked Vick up off the ground and body-slammed him, the flags stayed in their pockets.
It's a flag and fine-worthy offense when Rolando McClain body-slams Danny Amendola, but not when a defender body-slams Vick?
There's something not right about that.
Reid and the Eagles should start riding the league office, but not over what they're complaining about. Instead, they need to send in film of the numerous late hits Vick is taking and ask why they're not being punished.
But, no matter what the league says, we all know the answer already.
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