Mike Silva: The Michael Vick saga hit home for me personally. First, as a dog lover, I can’t imagine another human being treating animals in such an inhumane way. I am not minimizing some of the other transgressions in sports – sexual assault, drunk driving, or drug use- but to hurt a defenseless creature that essentially wants to provide unconditional love is one of the ultimate acts of evil.
We all know the story how Vick aided and abated in dog fighting. That’s no longer news as it’s now about the Eagles decision to make Vick their starting quarterback. I think from a football perspective there is no question that Vick could be an asset to the Eagles. The bigger question is not whether he should be the QB, but how the fans can root for someone that was at the center of such evil.
Be it far from me to think all the athletes I have rooted for, covered, or admired are angels. I was a big Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden fan in the eighties, and we know what they were doing back then. Even Keith Hernandez, beloved in the SNY booth, has a history with drug use. Athletes are human beings and by that definition are no better than any of us in decision making. They shouldn’t be role models, but how Vick treated dogs is an offense I have a hard time forgiving. I believe he has a right to employment, but that doesn’t mean I feel obligated to root for his success.
Why you ask? Every time he throws a touchdown I think of the dog that was forcibly raped to produce the next fighting stud. A ten yard rush for a first down reminds me of the defenseless “bait dog” that was used to warm up the champion for the next fight. And if he hoisted a Super Bowl trophy I would have to remember the lives of those that couldn’t win the fight. Remember, in dog fighting, unlike sports, there is no “wait till next year” for the loser.
I may sound sanctimonious, but Michael Vick will never be on Mike Silva’s fantasy team. You won’t see a Vick jersey hanging on my wall, or hear me say what a great “comeback story” Vick is in 2010. A large part of me wanted to see him fail so he would experience on a small scale the pain, suffering, and isolation those dogs experienced. Rather than read about Michael Vick’s comeback, I will follow another comeback, one that will go unnoticed by many, but is far more heartwarming than anything done in sports this year. Read about the dogs that survived the wrath of Michael Vick. That is the real story I am interested in, not whether Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb will start on any given Sunday.
CHRIS PUMMER: Setting aside moral judgments, under which auspices Vick is a damned character, he’s probably the right pick for the Eagles given their current personnel.
I wouldn’t have argued that two weeks ago. In fact I said that the medium- and long-term interests of the Eagles were tied to Kolb establishing himself.
That was before the extent of Kolb’s concussion was known. And before the extent of the injuries to Philadelphia’s offensive line were realized.
Kolb is still the likely long-term solution for this team at quarterback, so endangering his health would be a poor choice, even if another option weren’t readily available. Such an option is in Vick, who is demonstrating he can still uses his legs to cover for a patchwork o-line, but can maybe pass the ball as well as he did before his career went on hiatus.
That’s why there’s no sense arguing with Eagles coach Andy Reid that Vick is the starting quarterback for now.
ALEX PREWITT: It’s funny how thing suddenly spin completely around once Vick puts up a few more numbers, and proved that this successful comeback isn’t just an aberration. The impossible has become reality: Michael Vick has returned to elite quarterback status in the NFL. Forget the dog-fighting puns or the prison jokes, and if we push aside all subjective feelings of morality and look at this from a purely football standpoint, then Vick deserves to be the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, hands down.
Equating an endorsement of Vick as the new signal-caller for Andy Reid’s squad should not be misconstrued as supporting his dog-fighting ring. It was a horrendous act, one that Vick served 18 months in prison for, each day more justifiable than the last. But I’m a believer in second chances, in repentance and forgiveness. Vick’s comeback is hardly a feel-good story; the beginning is too corrupt to tell to children. But regardless of whether or not dog-fighting strikes a chord or is simply another headline in a world filled with horrific acts, Vick’s prowess on the football field cannot be denied.
It was only last week that NFL personalities were calling for Eagles coach Andy Reid’s head after he announced that Vick would start over poster-boy (and criminally clean – yes, that’s relevant) Kevin Kolb. “Andy Reid makes a knee-jerk decision,” one ESPN blog post read. John Clayton posted another, titled “Vick move a mistake by Eagles.”
Suddenly, the impossible enters the realm of probability. Michael Vick, at least to some, is becoming a likable quarterback, a beacon of light for troubled stars looking for one last shot, something I believe everyone should be given the opportunity to earn. What he did, of course, was horrific, and I won’t pretend like we can look past his criminal record. But Vick should be the starter in Philadelphia.
On the flip-side, Kevin Kolb obviously cannot be trusted to run the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in each of his first two career starts. And yes, he was deemed one of the best reserves in the league. This year, however, Kolb has rarely shown any sort of ability to carry the Eagles, a trend that extends back to the preseason, and not just in the two quarters of regular season action he saw.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Donovan McNabb returns to Philly next week and then when the Falcons make a visit in Week 6. What’s certain now, though, is that Vick has done everything right, and deserves to be in the position he’s in now.