The League

Sean McCann
Beat Writer

Sean McCann

Former Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for Gannett

Vick Takes the Phans

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Eagles fans are ready to forgive Michael Vick for his dog fighting transgressions. As for Donovan McNabb's preseason inconsistency, the jury is still out.

Vick got cheers just for trotting into the game at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night. Donovan McNabb earned his boos with his play. And the PETA protests? Much ado about nothing.

And so the madness moved to the field for the Eagles, who invited uncertainty to their quarterback position when they signed Vick, two years out of football, to a one-year contract. Philadelphia may not have a QB controversy on its sideline, but it has one in the stands.

"Let's see what Vick can do," said 46-year-old Greg Sawyer from Ardmore, Pa. "He couldn't be worse than McNabb."

Even No. 5's supporters were rocked by a lackluster performance.

"It was exciting," said fan Michelle Sivel of Vick's Eagles debut. The 43-year-old from Williamstown, N.J., came to the Linc in a green No. 5 jersey, but wasn't willing to cede McNabb a thing.

"I'd like to think that McNabb is a little bit worried, and trying to step it up a little bit," she said. "I'd like to think that he and Vick might be battling."

Philadelphia shuttled Vick onto the field for six plays in the first half of its preseason game against the Jaguars, and didn't give him enough work to look good or bad. He threw just one real pass, to Hank Baskett for a 13-yard gain. He also completed a few shovel passes, ran for a yard and lined up as a decoy wide receiver.

McNabb was ineffective, however, during the Eagles substitution experiment, and was spotted giving offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg the "cut" sign in the second quarter.

After that, Vick did not play at all, much to the crowd's chagrin. As McNabb continued to struggle, they started chanting for No. 7.

Clearly, six plays were not enough.

"The dude's an awesome athlete. Let him do his thing," said 25-year-old Adam Prince, from Feasterville, Pa., on his way out of the stadium early in the fourth quarter. "We saw (backup quarterback Kevin Kolb) come in, and Vick's in his visor, and we knew it was time to go."

It's clear how Eagles head coach Andy Reid would prefer to use Vick: as the ultimate offensive wild card.

Eagles fans know this -- a special ripple of appreciation went through the Linc crowd when McNabb lined up as a wide receiver with Vick under center - and perhaps McNabb does too. Vick's athletic ability is too potent to be allowed to ferment on the bench.

It's also clear that McNabb is the better down-to-down quarterback, and always was. This was not necessarily in evidence Thursday night. Reid won't care about that, but fans and media might, and McNabb has a history of letting any and all criticism under his thin skin.

Vick can undoubtedly help the Eagles win football games, but if McNabb isn't comfortable sharing the snaps, it won't happen. He might have lobbied to bring No. 7 to town, but when push comes to shove, No. 5 might still leave him out in the cold.

However, Thursday's real loser was not McNabb. The animal-rights protests that were widely expected were distant, quiet and - once the game began - forgotten.

The crowded halftime concourses utterly ignored the controversy, as green No. 7 jerseys mingled with the 5's, 10's and 36's. There were a few pre-game demonstrators at Broad and Pattison, more than a quarter mile from the stadium, but their messages were mixed. Some skewered Vick, others the Eagles, and still others the NFL.

Ticket holders walked past unmolested. Some missed the ruckus entirely.

"I was surprised. I didn't see any protesters out there at all," said Marcus Holloway, 34, from Philadelphia and clad in an Eagles Vick jersey. "I didn't see a lot of it on the news or in the city, and I think that'll die down over the course of the season."

By Sean McCann  |  August 28, 2009; 6:37 AM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Michael Vick , NFL , Philadelphia Eagles , Roger Goodell , Tony Dungy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: So Far So Good | Next: Vick Issue Still in Doubt

Comments

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Mr. Mcann you should be ashamed of yourself. Vick is a dog, he is lower than a dog.

Posted by: forrestrope | August 28, 2009 4:38 PM

Its unfortunate that we see an example of the spewings of another press flunkie.
Nothing mentioned of the level of cruelty Vick exhibited...Nothing about his obvious lack of remorse...Nothing about the terrible example being set by the NFL...Nothing about the incredibly poor decision of the Eagles to take Vick...
As far as the fans acceptance is concerned,I'm not surprised; consider the general mentality.
Perhaps you can join with Tony Dungy to
discredit yourselves in a joint effort.
Totally repugnant.

Posted by: mur3219 | September 3, 2009 10:40 AM

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