In the 2002-03 season, the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs, ending quarterback Michael Vick's rookie season. This is before PETA labeled him enemy number one, and before the Eagles decided to sign him despite his last few years' in jail, serving time for helping fund and run an illegal dog-racing gambling ring. What to decide is, does the franchise prefer to focus on controversy, or do they know how to put together a winning football team?
There are no debates against Vick's athletic ability, nor his name-on-the-back-of-an-Eagles'-jersey's ability to bring money to the team. There are two debates. The first being, why would the Eagles sign a dog-hating criminal with poor judgment? This one is easy. Because he's a good athlete. And, as mentioned, no one can argue that. The lapses in Vick's morality are old news. What fans should be concerned with, if they believe in the fairness of the Criminal Justice System in the U.S, is how Vick is going to find a place in a team that already has a starting quarterback. And don't forget how in 1999 when the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb, the fans booed that decision as well.
Now, the second debate is an old debate in Philadelphia, perhaps akin to the chicken/egg one the rest of the world has agreed just to disagree one: will Vick replace McNabb? Was Vick brought in to replace McNabb? Do we want Vick to replace McNabb? And on and on. Of course, this debate is also somewhat dismissable because only time will be able to tell who is the better man for the job. Vick's shaky reputation makes him not someone that a team would want to be their frontman. However, this is Philadelphia we're talking about, who booed an umpire for the rest of the game after he threw out their centerfielder a few weeks ago for throwing his arms up in the air at a bad call-- from centerfield. Let's not forget that Philadelphia fans have a reputation of sending home fans of opposing teams with bruises that will take weeks to heal and scars that may never heal. Oh, also, we threw snowballs at Santa Claus. (Yeah that was 1968, but it goes a long way.) Bad reputation quarterback? As long as he is throwing when he should throw and running when he should run, he's welcome into the family.
But Donovan McNabb is still our franchise quarterback, the same guy who stomped all over the Cowboys in order to help send the Eagles to the playoffs last year, following which they marched right to the NFC Conference Championship game. Okay, they lost that one, but after a season of ups and downs, you had to give it to McNabb for knowing when he should take off past the line of scrimage and getting the ball into the hands of rookie and seasoned players alike. The Eagles old man quarterback, known for his arm, his abilities to run the ball and his skill of getting injured right when we think we're gonna get there this year, did not look like an old man quarterback.
Perhaps rather than wondering whether or not Vick will eventually replace McNabb, fans should be grateful that we have a wild card to use on the field. Think of how scared a defense will be to see two similarly intimidatingly athletic quartbacks lined up for the same offensive play. The possibilities are endless. This is what Eagles' fans should be excited about.
During the 2002-3 playoff season, after the Eagles destroyed the Falcons' Superbowl dreams, I remember my Dad standing up yelling, "MICHAEL WHO???" and then laughing hysterically. This rookie quarterback has been in every announcer's mouth from when he was drafted by Atlanta in 2001 as their round one pick one choice. As Eagles fans, we were glad to see him, with skills similar to our quarterbacks, defeated by our team. But now that he's on our side, we'll deal with the controversey that comes. Dad suggested that the franchise donates x amount of money for each sale of a Vick jersey to animal-loving organizations. Perhaps they should consider sending it to local shelters, maybe ethe Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). This way the franchise gives back a little to the community that gives so much to them.