Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Thirty-One: Every Dog Has His Day….

I know, I know, it’s a lame pun, but I couldn’t resist.

I am, however, very jubilant for my Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed as though after former franchise and future hall-of-fame quarterback Donovan McNabb was traded to their division rival Washington Redskins, most of us in the Eagle Nation were left scratching our heads as to why the Eagles would do such a bold move. Especially to essentially introduce to us a young quarterback by the name of Kevin Kolb who had been the team’s back-up guy for the last three years and was now primed as the future of the offense. Most of us were angry at why the best QB in Eagle history would be defaulted to a guy who’d only played up-to-that point 2 ½ games in his NFL career when it was obvious that McNabb still had some good years left in him to win with the Birds. I, for one, nearly denounced this team for a year.

What difference two games makes.

During the season-opener against the Green Bay Packers, Kolb didn’t really look that good – at ALL – as the new king QB in Philly. He rushed his throws, he couldn’t escape the pressure, and the Birds didn’t get but three points in the whole half. However, the biggest blow came when he was knocked out of the game with a concussion when an apparent come-from-behind sack banged his helmet off the turf like a ping-pong ball.

Exit Kevin Kolb; enter Michael Vick.

Yes, THAT Vick. The same Vick who was once locked up in federal prison for running (or at least, financing) a dog fighting ring and admitted to killing some of the dogs himself. The same Vick that lost nearly $130 million through his voided contract, cancelled sponsors, and legal battles. The same Vick that was shunned by the City of Brotherly Love when it announced last year he had been signed to a two-year deal. However, Vick had worked on his game both in the very limited action of last season and the pre-season this year, even though we all knew that Kolb was the guy on this team….or so we thought.

Michael Vick came in the game, and lead the Eagles to 17 2nd half points, amazing the home crowd and television audience with flashes of brilliant moves and throws, coupled with his trademark speed and escape ability that made him not only the franchise player of the Atlanta Falcons years ago, but the apparent face of the NFL. Even though the Eagles ended up losing the game 27-20, a lot of the fans began to think “Hey. This guy’s still got it. Maybe he should start.”

This is, of course, what he did the next week at Detroit. With Kolb still out from the concussion, and Vick named the start for the whole game; Vick led the Eagles to 35-32 win on the road.

So now, here we stand. Andy Reid has made the decision that after four years of self-confessed bad decisions, jail, humiliation, and determination, Michael Vick will once again be a permanent starter for a NFL team, as Reid named Vick the starting QB of the Eagles for the rest of the season.

This of course, has been met with several controversial questions: “Why would Andy do this? He never caves into demands, and he always said Kolb was his guy.” “What about Kevin Kolb?” “Why Michael Vick anyway? He’s not a long-term solution to the Eagles winning a Super Bowl.”

Here are the issues I have with the whole thing. I don’t see a reason for why Michael Vick shouldn’t start for this team if he: a) gives the team the best opportunity to win, and b) the fan base is clamoring for him to play. Why should we, the viewing (and paying) public, be forced to sit through what would most-certainly be a ‘rebuilding’ year when there is a guy who has shown that he is capable of getting the team to challenge for at least, a division title? Plain and simple: why should Vick be punished for playing well?

I also don’t believe the Eagles “owe” anything to Kevin Kolb and should not be starting him out of obligation. For one, in this age of football where over the last two-four years, concussion cases are taken extremely seriously to the point where it’s almost mandatory that players must sit out at least one week. So why rush him back to put in that same spot if he’s not 100% healthy enough to lead? Two, injuries and replacements happen all the time in sports, especially in one as violent as football. It’s parts of the game; one man down – no matter how unfortunate – doesn’t stop the show. If Drew Bledsoe never gotten hurt with the Patriots, we wouldn’t have been introduced to Tom Brady. Ditto for Kurt Warner if Trent Green didn’t suffer his injury.

Finally, I now believe what these athletes and owners have been saying for YEARS: that football in the National Football League is a business first, and sport second. No one “owes” anyone anything, no matter how loyal, how hard-working, how dedicated players and coaches have shown to be. We still see them benched, traded, or cut if it’s cost effective for the front office. If anyone “owed” anything in the Eagles camp, it should be to Donovan McNabb. After all he did for the team during his time as the quarterback and franchise player – leading the team to 5 conference title games and their 2nd ever Super Bowl appearance in franchise history – he was still shipped off to “make way for the future”. If anything, he was owed the right to play his 12th year in Eagle green, but we saw how that played out, too.

I say just enjoy what Michael Vick can do, and where this team will go with him running it. You may be surprised. I am already. “Fly Eagles Fly” hasn’t sounded this good in months…..

9/22/10

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