The League

David Aldridge
Sports Reporter

David Aldridge

A nationally recognized sports journalist.

Eagles Fit Vick


At the beginning of 2008, someone (ahem) suggested that the Eagles sign Randy Moss after his first season with the Patriots, when he entered free agency.

The rationale then: only an organization as strong as Philly's could deal with the inordinate distraction of someone like Moss. Only a coach like Andy Reid, whose word was never brooked and who had no space between himself and his offensive coordinator, could fold a unique talent like Moss into his offense. Only a team with a quarterback as good as Donovan McNabb could earn the respect of someone like Moss. And only a team that was close to the Super Bowl should take a risk on someone like Moss.

Big Red never listened, though, and I guess he thinks he's a big shot and knows better because he's the head coach of an NFL team, and has spent his entire adult life coaching and teaching the game, and I... um... ask people at halftime of NBA games how they're doing.

But the rationale is still there now,18 months later, and the Eagles have pulled the trigger, signing Michael Vick. It's a brilliant move.

Vick needs protection from everything these days: the media, PETA, himself, maybe. The Eagles control everything with their name on it, as well as any organization in the league.

Vick needs a familiar system. Hello, West Coast Offense, which he played in Atlanta and which Reid and Marty Mornhinweg use (and, occasionally, force-feed) in Philly.

Vick needs a strong number one quarterback in front of him that won't be threatened by his presence. You can say what you want about McNabb -- and, believe me, he's heard it all since '99 -- but he's not a shrinking violet and he's still one of the game's best. He took on TO when Owens was in as strong a position as he ever was as a pro; he's had his ups and downs with Reid and is still standing; he's heard the boos and the rips on WIP and hasn't flinched; he was supposed to be finished a year ago and ended it a quarter from the Super Bowl.

Vick needs a personnel group that can't just run the Wildcat, but can excel in it; you can't put all the pressure on him to make it work. Brian Westbrook can run inside and split at flanker; DeSean Jackson's outside speed is a nightmare (or, it will be if he recovers from a hyperextended knee); second-round pick LeSean McCoy is a Westbrook clone. They can all carry the ball and they can all catch it, and that means defenses won't be able to load up when they see Vick come onto the field. It wouldn't surprise if, often as not, he's a decoy. But one hell of an effective one.

Vick needs a city, frankly, with an African-American population large enough to make a difference if it accepts him. This doesn't mean all black people love Vick or support dog fighting; it doesn't mean all white people despise Vick or condemn dog fighting. But the preponderance of those who still support Vick seem to come from the African-American community, and Philly is a town with a history of embracing the hardscrabble black athlete, from Joe Frazier to Bernard Hopkins to Allen Iverson. (And yet, Vick won't be the biggest black athlete in town, not with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard still leading the defending World Series champs and McNabb still holding onto his own power base.)

Vick also needs a city that won't flinch at the sight of a few protesters. A few hundred, even. There will be PETA sympathizers, to be sure, but there will also be Iggles fans in force that will cheer anyone in the green and white and hit "outsiders" upside the head with their own picket signs.

There are those in Philly who hate Owens so much they'll never acknowledge what is clear: he was the reason they got over the hump in 2004 and finally got to the Super Bowl. And he almost won it on a surgically repaired ankle. He was a difference maker. He was worth the trouble, if only for a year. Will Vick be? Well, if he flops, he'll have no excuses.

By David Aldridge  |  August 14, 2009; 3:29 AM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Crime , David Aldridge , Michael Vick , NFL , Philadelphia Eagles , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It's not in my heart to wish Vick well. His attitude is one that does not deserve this chance. He tortured animals for his own pleasure and profit. End of story.

Posted by: ghhugh | August 14, 2009 5:30 AM

I'm seeing so much hate and nastiness from animal "lovers" that I don't see them as any better than those that promote dog fighting.

Posted by: charley42 | August 14, 2009 6:18 AM

I don't understand why people won't let it go! The man committed a crime and served his time. Why shouldn't he be allowed to work again? Nobody on this earth is perfect. We all make mistakes. Wouldn't one of you animal lovers want a second chance if you did something wrong? Enough said!!

Posted by: Bbman73 | August 14, 2009 7:06 AM

Actually the Eagles DID try to sign Moss.

Posted by: dmurphy2103 | August 14, 2009 7:29 AM

I can only say how sorry I feel for Donovan McNabb, who has been a standup individual for a decade in one of the toughest cities to play in. First he had to endure T.O. (an admittedly great player, but a self-promoting jackass) and now he'll have to go through an endless media gauntlet regarding Michael Vick, who I am sure he will be supposed to "mentor." I wouldn't blame McNabb if he said "Forget it. You guys can go with the dogkiller who just did a bullet in the federal penitentiary."

And for all the Vick apologists, he didn't "make a mistake" or as Mike Wilbon has written "bankroll" a dogfighting operation. He was an active, long time participant in a criminal enterprise that is illegal in every state in the union and he is a self-confessed strangler and drowner of dogs that did not perform to his satisfaction. I ain't sure this is a guy I would want in a locker room with me.

Posted by: purdyjack | August 14, 2009 8:51 AM

I wish I was a member of PETA or one of these fanatical dog lovers. They seem to have the ability to be in the mind of Michael Vick, and "know" how Vick feels now about what he did. Give it a rest already. And while you judgemental folks are condeming Michael Vick, there are hundreds of more dog fighters fighting dogs. Michael Vick didn't start dog fighting, it didn't end when Michael Vick went to jail and it won't end while he is playing as an Eagle. We can only hope that he won't do it again. If God can forgive him PETA folks need to learn to as well. I hope PETA is as outraged with the dog that attacked and killed its owner last week in our area as they are with Michael Vick. Some how I doubt they have the capacity to have compassion for humans.

Posted by: ldey | August 14, 2009 11:39 AM


I agree wholeheartedly with your take. I wonder about Andy Reid's role / feelings regarding the decision to take a chance on Vick. Aside from his NFL skill sets and their tremendous upside (as it relates to his offensive attack this year and next), why risk it?

Well, consider the legal troubles / jail time experienced by Andy's beloved - yet troubled - sons. If any coach in America can speak to the media hordes about the American way of giving people the chance to redeem themselves, who has more firsthand knowledge than Reid? I will be looking to see if any reporters pick up on this angle and - delicate a topic as it may be - put Reid on the spot to talk about Vick's second chance and wanting the same for each of his boys.


Posted by: knk4jack | August 14, 2009 12:31 PM

i am a redskins fan, but i thought i will never be saying this, go eagles.

Posted by: j2a0e04tc | August 14, 2009 12:54 PM

I'm a redskins fan, too. I wish the Skins had signed him. It would be worth the initial boos to get a backup quarterback with some serious potential.

Posted by: postfan1 | August 14, 2009 2:44 PM

BOYCOTT the Eagles with everything you have!!!

I will throw away my season tickets because I will NEVER be held hostage by an organization stupid and greedy enough to sign this pathological, unrepentant MURDERER.

Just think! He would still be torturing dogs today with a smile on his face if he wasn't caught!!

Posted by: misssymoto | August 14, 2009 6:21 PM

You don't have to be a PETA supporter to understand that what Vick did is beyond rational forgiveness.

What bothers people most, is that he keeps trying to lump what he did into the category of a "Mistake" or "Immature behavior", when he knows his behavior was and IS on a different level of EVIL altogether.

Anyone who is willing to write off what he did as a "Mistake" needs to go back and read the court documents of the Vick case. Bring a barf bag-- you will need it.

WHAT HAPPENED to standards of basic decency within the Eagles organization??

WHY would they stoop so low as to pick up this criminal?

Posted by: misssymoto | August 14, 2009 6:26 PM

What has become of professional sports over the past 20 or so years has made it into such an embarrassment? If you begin to scan the sports section of any of the main pages of the more popular online publications, more often than not the first couple of links will be related, not to a high score, incredible catch, or other feat of athleticism, but to a weapons possession charge or domestic assault (on a slow day). There are other forms of entertainment available to me that don't require hundreds of dollars of my money to enjoy, and that don't require me sacrificing my morals to do so. I'm done with football...I respect myself too much to give the sport my time and money. Baseball and Basketball? You're only a couple of felonies away as well. Hockey...well, that's a sport only enjoyed if the players are actually committing assault during play, so I guess it gets a pass.

Posted by: Sentient1 | August 14, 2009 6:26 PM

The Filthyhdelphia Turkeys should be proud because just signed up a man who strangles dogs to death with his bare hands, and drowns dogs with his bare hands. They just signed up one sicko bast@rd. Go!Go! you Filtydelphia Turkeys!

Posted by: matrox | August 14, 2009 10:23 PM

When it comes to money and NFL commissioner Roger Badall morals do not apply here. These types of people would pimp there own mommas to a doped up crackhead is the price was right.

Posted by: matrox | August 14, 2009 10:28 PM

As much as I hate to endorse the form of Matrox's comment, I gotta admit the essential truth of it. The NFL will do anything for ratings and money. Anything at all. There are no limits. The sooner we grasp and accept that harsh foundation, the sooner we'll stop being disillusioned with the NFL's decisions. This is not about Michael Vick; he's merely today's flavor. The NFL treats players exactly the way Vick treated dogs: those who do not perform satisfactorily are discarded; those too injured to perform are discarded. Welcome to the Coliseum, 2009-2010 edition. The only thing missing is the lions. (Lowercase "l" is intentional; no one fears the Lions.)

Posted by: salescoach | August 18, 2009 6:31 PM

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