If you have been to an Atlanta Falcons home game in the past several seasons, you have seen them. Dozens of them. Nay, hundreds—even thousands—at every single game.
I'm talking, of course, about the ubiquitous Michael Vick Falcons jersey.
For reasons that are beyond many other diehard Falcons fans, the Falcons Vick jersey has remained an omnipresent fixture in the Georgia Dome for many years now. Even throughout Vick's incarceration, you would see them ahead of you in the beer line, or two rows in front of you, or—God forbid—sitting next to you.
Many Falcons fans fondly remember the golden days of Vick's career in Atlanta, and want to show their support with their jersey.
After all, it probably cost a lot of money.
But for every loving Vick supporter who calls themselves a Falcons fan, there are a hundred fans who have moved on. They replaced their Vick jersey with a Matt Ryan or Roddy White jersey, and especially after Vick's comments about Atlanta in GQ and ESPN the Magazine, have never looked back.
Vick is a talented quarterback. There is no question about that.
But his off-field actions left the Falcons in a state of disarray. In a time where we do not even want our star players celebrating out at bars too late, Vick's actions could easily be enough to excommunicate him from our crazed fan hearts forever.
Still, some continue to show their support through their Vick jerseys, and they make a point of wearing them to the Dome for every Falcons home game.
Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles should be the exception.
Coming off an embarrassing performance against the Bears, and needing desperately to win the home opener against the Eagles, the Falcons are going to need the fans this Sunday night. Sunday night games are huge, and this is a game that fans can actually influence deeply.
It's a night game, so everybody in the nation will be watching. Atlanta fans will have had all day long to get "lubed up," and they'll be able to get into the Dome well before the game to start getting loud and rowdy early.
The Dome is a tough place to play for visitors, and that's because of the fans. Falcons fans are loud, proud, and have the privilege of playing in an enclosed stadium that makes the cheers even louder. The last thing the Falcons and Falcons fans need are reminders of the past.
The Falcons Vick jersey is a symbol of, perhaps, the strangest and saddest moment in Falcons franchise history; it downgrades fans' dedication to the current roster, and sends a mixed message to the rest of the fans in their "Matty Ice" jerseys. Who do you support? The Falcons, or Michael Vick?
Because last time I checked, Michael Vick played for the Philadelphia Eagles.
If fans want to help the Falcons win—if fans really want to become that 12th man—then its important to leave the past at home. Forget the Michael Vick jersey, and show up ready to boo every single time the Philly offense takes the field.