Honestly, when you really think about it, it had to be the Philadelphia Eagles who ended up signing controversial superstar Michael Vick, right?
I mean, they’re a team that typically wins more games than they lose, so Phily’s front office is hoping that a strong enough foundation is in place – starting with head coach Andy Reid – to handle the media circus and public relation distractions that come with acquiring a convicted felon.
And also, there’s a history here. Whether you’re an Eagles fan or not, you have to admit that this is an organization with more than a little bit of ego. When Terrell Owens was on his way out in San Francisco (while simultaneously jumping up and down telling Baltimore he wouldn’t play there), in came the Eagles to save the day.
Eagles’ management believes they can add ultra talented players with baggage, and that the franchise is capable of making it work. Their strategy looked great when T.O. was helping them get to the Super Bowl. Not so much when he was calling out Donavan F. McNabb a year later for puking in the huddle.
So yeah, teams like the Washington Redskins (greedy owner accused of building fantasy football teams), Dallas Cowboys (flamboyant owner who loves to thumb his nose at conventional thinking) and Oakland Raiders (senile old man who thinks he’s trying to get coach John Madden the last few pieces to a dynasty) might have been thrown around as possible destinations, but Philadelphia makes the most sense – well, if we’re talking on-the-field.
Off the field, that’s an entirely different conversation.
Upon hearing the news that Vick had landed in Philadelphia, one person close to me wrote a one liner that simply said:
“Good to know … and it comes as no surprise that the Eagles now hate Santa Claus AND puppies.”
Another friend said this:
“Andy Reid’s kids are in jail all the time, so at least they’ll all have something to talk about.”
You see, for better or for worse, Philly fans have a reputation for being assholes. One that fans in pretty much any other city in the country would say is well deserved. They’re passionate about their local teams – the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers (and sometimes even the 76ers), and they’re passionate about their alcohol consumption.
So, if it’s snowing and they aren’t happy, then it seems perfectly acceptable to the “fine” people of Philly to throw snowballs at a guy playing the part of Santa Claus during a halftime show. And if a rival’s player, such as Michael Irvin, is lying on the ground with what appears to be a serious injury, it’s perfectly okay to cheer about it.
Basically, Philly is known for three things – cheesesteaks, booing anyone and everyone and the jail located in the underbelly of their football stadium.
So here’s what’s going to happen – the first time McNabb throws an incomplete pass, Philly fans will call for a change at quarterback. The first time Vick sees the field, regardless of the circumstances, Eagles fans will cheer wildly. As long as the Eagles are winning, all will be wonderful.
And as an added bonus, if PETA protestors even think about setting up shop anywhere near Lincoln Financial Stadium, Eagles fans will welcome them like they do any other out-of-towners – with a brick through their windshield. (Okay, I’ve got to admit, that last part sounds awesome).
If I’m betting on how this plays out, I’m putting money on the Eagles devising ways to best utilize McNabb and Vick. They’re not going to have one be the starting quarterback and the other be the backup. No, they’ll try to figure out as many ways as possible to get them on the field together in an effort to really make opposing defenses work.
one – if the Redskins, 49ers and Raiders aren’t going to work, then where could/should Vick land?
I say this because McNabb has always been a guy who, while saying the right thing, comes across as overly sensitive. Last November, when Donavan was stinking up the joint against the Baltimore Ravens, he got benched. Nevermind the fact that the benching did exactly what Reid and friends hoped it would – namely light a fire under McNabb’s ass and remind him he’s one of the better QBs in football. No, even after the season was over, he still was asking for an explanation, as if he felt he was too good to ever come off the field. Does this guy sound like the ideal candidate to handle the biggest named quarterback on the free agent market coming to town?
So if the Eagles are smart, they assure Mr. Sensitive that his job is not in jeopardy. They tell him something along the lines of, “We’re trying to get you as many weapons as possible” and hope he’s on board. Because if not, the baggage and distractions that come with bringing Public Enemy #1 to town meshing with the ever-present McNabb drama/inferiority complex could easily blow up their entire season.
If nothing else this move guarantees one thing – the Eagles will be the team to watch whenever they take the field. Either they return to glory, or they become a car wreck we can’t turn away from. However this plays out, it’ll definitely be entertaining.
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter who also goes by the name Homer McFanboy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.