The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

Rare Risk

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Nothing really happens at preseason NFL games. Although midway through the second quarter last night, as the Tom Brady-infused Pats drove down the field, the guy in front of me at the game began to wildly bark.

Now I've been to an untold amount of football games, seen many, many interesting things occur, but had yet to see a 40-year-old man that looks like a public golf course pro bark relentlessly towards the field at an Eagles game. Once he was finished with the Cujo impersonation, he began to tell his friend (assumed) that he couldn't believe "that they just signed Vick."

At first, I assumed he meant that Michael Vick went to the Patriots. Having closely followed Vick's situation, as any cognizant football fan has, it was clear that Philly didn't seem to be a factor, while rumors and buzz circled AFC powers like New England, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Frantically searching on my phone's browser for confirmation, the connection severely slowed by the 60K or so fans in attendance, all no doubt simultaneously receiving the "Vick Text," it became clear, once the info loaded, that New England had not in fact signed him. My immediate cynical take was that the Eagles really wanted the spotlight back from the ever-popular Phillies. Cliff Lee? Pedro? CNN isn't arguing over their virtues.

That, and even more likely, they believe they have the infrastructure in place to gamble on the most controversial athlete of the past several years as well as the desire to see what he can still do on the field.

The biggest news of the past decade to come out of an NFL preseason game before last night was when Michael Vick broke his leg in 2003. The story then was of loss, a budding superstar wounded in exhibition play. Now, it's his sudden signing with the Eagles. The Philly crowd, already a chirpy group, erupted into passionate discussion and what even appeared to be debate in some cases over this radically random news.

It makes sense that the Eagles could do this. Could, because not every team in the NFL was a feasible home to Vick.

A team like St. Louis, for example, theoretically makes sense, but when you consider their new coaching staff, front brass and significant overhaul you realize that Vick doesn't make sense for several reasons. New coaches and executives paired with downtrodden franchises are not, or shouldn't be (McDaniels...), in the business of marring their tenures before they start. For many scenarios around the league the PR scare seemed to have outweighed the football potential.

Yet for a veteran-laden team, boasting a long-tenured or successful coach with an enduring front office and an established franchise quarterback, the signing of Vick seemed possible. Pittsburgh and New England seemed like viable homes because they possess these very characteristics. As do the Eagles, but the fact that we didn't see this coming makes it that much more provocative.

So the Eagles, a team that seems to have a magnetic draw to drama, have made the most dramatic move of the offseason. We must now face weeks, if not months, of constant conjecture and deliberation in sports media over this move.

The climate around Vick will only settle, however, when he takes the field. Lest we forget, the reason all of this made so much news to begin with was because this was one of the greatest athletes in the nation's most popular sport embroiled in an uncommon criminal enterprise. If he can be utilized as a potent weapon for this team, the talk will shift from morality to mobility.

If he's no good, this won't have legs. But if he still has legs, this will be good.

By Jim McCormick  |  August 14, 2009; 4:48 AM ET  | Category:  Michael Vick , Philadelphia Eagles , Tony Dungy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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