Posted by: dvolpe | August 14, 2009

Michael Vick: Will this Fallen Falcon Soar as an Eagle?

Hate him or love him, Vick is now a Philadelphia Eagle

Hate him or love him, Vick is now a Philadelphia Eagle

Well first of all, let me say that I did not see this one coming. That being said, I don’t think anyone else did either. Vick an Eagle? After the Eagles put themselves on the “not interested in Michael Vick” list? But that’s what I love about the NFL. You can analyze, you can study film and history, you can flat out guess, but one thing you cannot do is be sure of what’s going to happen next.

With an edition as controversial as Vick several questions immediately come to mind. Perhaps the most important being why? The Eagles have consistently been a Superbowl contender for most of the past decade, so why take a chance on Vick? Well for one thing during that decade of contention their only Superbowl berth came when they took a chance on a guy named Terrell Owens. Not known for being great for a locker room, in fact, considered even then to be somewhat of a risk, Owens was, however, known for explosive plays. Sound familiar? Vick in his heyday was as explosive as they come. Whether he can bring that factor to the Eagles after his incarceration is another question entirely, but I think it’s what the Eagles have in mind.

But what about the team, how do they feel? Well of course reviews are all positive at this point. They usually are in the early stages. We’ll check back with this after the honeymoon period is over. But right now Andy Reid seems excited about Vick’s prospects, and word is that Donovan McNabb may have actually been instrumental in the signing, so there’ shouldn’t be any problems there. Right now even McNabb’s backup, Kevin Kolb is okay with the signing, on paper at least. Make no mistake there will be problems with animal rights activists and opposing fans, but it seems for now that the Eagles are willing to suffer those slings and arrows for a player that they hope will make them a better team.

Which leaves just one question, the truly important one. Will it work? Will it take them deeper into the playoffs? Will it make them a better team? Will Vick be the Vick of old, will he be swift, explosive, elusive, exciting? What kind of a pro athlete a man will be after rotting in prison for over a year is one of the hardest questions to answer. Ali was away from boxing for 3 years, but never actually did any time. He came back and was still Ali. But Tyson was a shadow of himself after he was released from prison in ’95. Whether that had more to do with the fact that he was cooped up in a cell, away from his trainers and from boxing itself, or was due to the spirit-breaking effects of prison we’ll never know. Vick is 29 years old right now and as such should be able to get his body back into shape. The question is, can he get his mind and spirit back in order. Vick is not a conscientious objector like Ali. He is guilty of much more heinous crimes. There will be a maelstrom of emotions running through him from guilt to anger, to fear, to sorrow that he’ll have to deal with. He’ll have to deal with the way in which the world now views him, and perhaps more tellingly, the way in which he now views himself. But all the greatest stories of man have been about redemption. And you don’t have to like a man, or condone what he did to want to see him redeemed.

Vick has been a Falcon, and fallen to earth. Now he is an Eagle, and maybe it’s fitting that he take on the guise of another bird. If he can truly change the man that he is, truly grow from this experience, truly become a better man than he was, and learn to respect life and help others, he may yet take on the guise of a third bird. That of the Phoenix rising from its own ashes.

Quick Bits:

Happy birthday Magic: Magic Johnson just turned 50 and it’s great to see him still happy and in great health. When he announced that he had contracted HIV in 1991 I remember thinking that he might not last another 5 years, or even another year. 18 years later he’s still going strong. As many people as he’s been able to inspire as a basketball player, he is now able to inspire more people, after basketball,  especially those facing this disease.

The streak continues: Team USA in soccer has just lost to Mexico, in Mexico, where they haven’t beaten Team Mexico since ’37. Bummer dudes. I would like to summon more emotion about the whole thing, but unfortunately I can’t because its only soccer. Maybe someday our eyes will be opened to whatever the rest of the world sees in this great sport, but until then, I remain mildly annoyed by Team USA’s loss.

Shaq and Beckham fued: It seems that Shaquille O’Neal and David Beckham have been trading barbs of late. I can’t tell whether they are trying to be intentionally hurtful or if its just playful banter. Apparently Shaq challenged Becks to try and score a goal on him and Becks declined saying something to the effect that he should go challenge Kobe. Whatever the case I’m sure it’s all just another desperate grasp at the limelight on both their parts. I for one would consider it a moral victory if we could somehow get either one of them to shut up for 5 minutes.

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