I really don't understand a person's thought process when he thinks an individual or organization has to play because the game or situation means so much.
If that's the case, no one would ever toss around the "choke" label.
How many times did Greg Norman yearn for the Masters only to let it slip through his fingertips? Was the Super Bowl not important to John Elway in each of his first three visits? Didn't the 1978 one-game playoff at Fenway Park mean the world to the Red Sox? And don't you think LeBron James wanted to silence his critics and win the NBA Finals last year?
Heck, weren't the Eagles supposed to handle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFC Championship Game? What better situation could you want? The Bucs only had one win when a game was below 40 degrees, they never won a playoff game on the road and the game marked the last event at the Vet. And it was there that the Eagles beat the Bucs, 20-10, earlier in the year.
There wasn't a better way to close down the building.
Wait a minute. I can see the comments filling up now.
People will point out that the individuals and teams I mentioned above went up against other professional athletes and that maybe, just maybe, the player or team in question wanted to win equally as much. Or perhaps the individuals or teams that lost were actually inferior.
Don't you think the Atlanta Falcons are tired of all the Vick-returning-to-Atlanta talk?
At some point, won't everyone on that team look at each other and ask, "Who the ef does this guy think he is? He thinks he can come back here and act like this is his house and make himself look good at our expense?!"
It blows my mind when people assume Vick is the only player with a lot at stake in this game.
I'm willing to bet a small fortune that Matt Ryan wants to win this game and prove to everyone in Atlanta that Vick leaving town was the best thing to happen to Atlanta since the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.
How was the move a good thing? Well, it prevents everyone from seeing how fraudulent Atlanta is as a sports town.
Where were we? Oh yes, the idea that players not named "Vick" will have their adrenaline pumping and a desire to show the world how good they can play on prime time.
It was only last week that Atlanta got rolled by the Chicago Bears, 30-12. It's hard to imagine the Falcons not wanting to rebound from that loss and win their home opener against a squad labelled the "Dream Team."
The Bears were an 11-5 team last year and one game away from going to the Super Bowl. Maybe the Falcons lost to a good team and maybe the Eagles are about to do the same thing on Sunday night.
It's amazing how everyone forgets the Falcons went 13-3 last year. But those same people can't wait to tell you how the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons in their last three meetings—without mentioning the Eagles won the first meeting on a botched muffed-punt call and the second win came at the expense of Chris Redman.
Yes, the Eagles won last year at the Linc. But you can't possibly think a win from the previous year at home will translate into a win on the road, right?
The teams have changed, most notably the offensive line of the Eagles.
And that brings me to my final point. How is Vick going to play well if he is constantly under pressure?
Last week against the Rams, Vick made some plays while under duress. But there were several occasions when he had plenty of time in the pocket to pick the defense apart.
Against the Falcons he can't rely purely on his playmaking abilities. At some point the line has to protect Vick and keep him upright.
Look, I get what Eagles fans are trying to do. They want to give themselves a reason to think the Eagles will open up the year 2-0. Yes, it is part of being a fan for some. But why can't you be a fan while also being honest with yourself?
Can't we acknowledge that even if a player or team wants to put up career numbers or post a win, it doesn't always happen? And if that's the case, can't we stop using it as a faulty reason to think the Eagles will win in Atlanta on Sunday?