Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Friday, April 1, 2011

EAGLES RUMORMILL: Team passes on huge offer for Kolb!

Prices climbing at Linc!

Most would agree that the Linc is a significant upgrade over the Vet but that said, so are the prices. And guess what, despite the league’s labor issues and an economy in which everything is going up except middle class wages, the Eagles plan to bump up ticket prices by nearly 10% across the board and concessions may climb even higher. And as if that wasn’t enough tailgaters using grills will have to buy a day pass for $20 in order to fire up their Colemans.

The NFL can be so out of touch with reality but the sad news is, while this will undoubtedly fan the fire already burning for fans, when the dust settles, they’ll be back, shelling out the Benjamins and they’ll do it happily. And don’t think for a second that the league doesn’t know it. That’s just the way it is…

Cam Newton is a tough player to call and project as a professional. He’s clearly a risky pick yet his athleticism is intoxicating for most scouts and coaches who would love to shape his off-the-chart raw skills. But then there are those character issues to deal with…

Adding to those issues is a recent rumor that has surfaced that may send the former Auburn Tiger tumbling down draft boards in a manner similar to Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn on draft day and consequently make him a less risky pick in the 20’s than he would be in the top 5.

So what’s the rumor you ask?

We’re hearing that Newton was extremely upset with the play calling during the waning moments of the BCS Championship Game in Phoenix against the Oregon Ducks. Auburn eventually won the game 22-19 on a last second 19 yard field goal. Newton wanted desperately to score the touchdown. Why? Cecil Newton, Cam’s Dad, is said to have placed a mid 6 figure wager on Auburn to cover the 3 ½ point line. Those close to the situation are referring to it as the new Newton’s Theory of Relativity.

Closer to home, things publicly have been very quiet but behind the scenes there are a few storms brewing and the first begins with Head Coach Andy Reid. Much to the surprise of close observers of the team, there is a strange performance clause in Reid’s contract that states that if the Eagles’ skipper isn’t below 300 pounds by the time he turns fifty-three, his contract will be shortened by 1 season. That would mean 2012 is Reid’s last.

Now the language does give Reid a chance at redemption. If he fails to make weight by his birthday (which has come and gone on March 19) but gets to 290 pounds by the first day of training camp, the contract remains in force. The labor issues could help Reid if camp is delayed and at his current weight of 347 pounds, ball coach will need every available day to shed the 57 El-Bees.

There’s no denying that DeSean Jackson is one of it not the single most explosive player in the league. However, his take home day doesn’t reflect that and D-Jax is demanding that the Eagles change his position in the financial pecking order before the 2011 season starts otherwise, expect a holdout. Word is that Jackson is extremely frugal (despite the public persona that suggests he isn’t) and has safely invested most of what he’s earned during his 3 seasons as an Eagle. That suggests he’s prepared to sit out as long as it takes for the Birds to amend and extend Jackson’s contract. The starting point for discussion is the 7 year, $78 million contract that Andre Johnson signed in 2010 and D-Jax wants $25 million of that in guaranteed payola.

Speaking of a big pay day, Michael Vick is due his, whether it’s in the form of a $17 million franchise tag or a long term deal that includes guaranteed money in the $30 million range. From what we hear the Eagles will opt for the franchise tag and there are those around the league who believe that there are still few at the top of the Birds’ food chain who haven’t fully bought into the rehabilitated Vick.

However a source close to 24x7 who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the team is not concerned about Vick’s character. They are more worried that he’s lost his zest for the game due to nagging injuries and that he really doesn’t enjoy playing is Philadelphia because the cold weather exacerbates those injury concerns. When it all shakes out look for the Eagles to stick to the one year franchise deal and keep Kevin Kolb around. This might help explain why Andy Reid turned down a trade offer from Minnesota for Kolb that included a No. 1 and No. 2 in 2011 and another 2 in 2012.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Mike Vick is Risky Business

Americans have a high tolerance for screw ups.

And that tolerance is matched by a complementary willingness to forgive.

Take Charlie Sheen for instance, an over-the-top narcissist who believes that a home rich with mind altering substances, pornography and adult film stars is a modern day dwelling for nurturing loving family values.

We all know that is whack but let this fruit loop go public with an apology or even a disingenuous act of kindness and most would be willing to let bygones be bygones IF in some way the forgiveness yielded a gain of some sort for everyone.

Right now the NFL has a war on its hands and the combatants are the players and the owners. Both seem rather piggish to me and neither side appears very trustworthy and the mounting spin doctoring has left a bad taste in the mouths of those who both sides depend on most – the fans.

But no worries – the fans will eventually forgive once there’s a labor truce or better still, full blown peace. They’ll soon forget the outlandish things they said about selling their season tickets; never watching another game; burning their officially licensed jerseys; etc, etc…

They will forget about the billionaires and the millionaires wanting more while the average Joe lives paycheck to paycheck as soon as their team takes the field.
That’s just the way it is…

It’s no different in Philadelphia and if you want proof you need to look no further than Michael Vick.

Philadelphians have rarely if ever been accused of holding back their feelings. And I’m sure dog lovers throughout the City of Brotherly Love campaigned for Vick to be treated in a manner not too dissimilar from the heinous ways in which he treated dozens and dozens of defenseless animals.

But when Vick was allowed to return to the NFL after serving his time in a Federal Penitentiary, the city of Philadelphia welcomed another brother with loving arms – for the most part.

As time went by and Vick showed remorse as a former serial dog murderer, more and more would get behind him and stand in the line of forgiveness. And as Vick’s accomplishments on the field grew while wearing the Eagles’ colors, that line lengthened exponentially.

Vick jerseys were coming off the sales rack almost as quickly as they went on.

After a near MVP season, fans decided that the southpaw’s laser arm and warp speed feet were worthy of a Pro Bowl and they made Vick the second highest vote getter in the balloting.

To me that spells forgiveness.

But has he earned it? A man who willingly and repeatedly electrocuted, drowned and hung dogs that were no longer useful to his dog fighting purpose and profitability – a man who let’s face it, has everything to gain by showing remorsefulness, has he really earned your forgiveness?

To the sports fans of Philly I ask, “Would Vick have earned your forgiveness as a member of the Dallas Cowboys?”

What if he had stunk up the field as Kevin Kolb’s relief pitcher?

Now I get that a man who does the time needs some time to show his remorse and with Vick, so far so good. And now that he’s earned the status of a franchised quarterback it gets really interesting for both Vick personally and for the Eagles organizationally.

How will Vick respond to his most recent successes?

The dog fighting rap aside, as heinous as it is, isn’t the only time that Vick has shown thug qualities. He hasn’t exactly been a man of exemplary character off the field when flashing the middle digit to the fans of Atlanta; carrying a water bottle through Miami’s airport that could have served as a nice prop in the Pineapple Express; and let’s not forget the legendary Ron Mexico incident.

Success on the field, acceptance from the fans and a fat new franchise quarterback check will undoubtedly test the level of Vick’s remorsefulness from this point forward.

On the field, Eagles’ fans loved what they saw from Vick and how could they not? His quarterback rating on the season was 100.2 and that doesn’t even factor in his 676 yards rushing and 9 TD’s. All tolled Vick produced 30 scores in his 12 regular season starts.

Yet it can’t be overlooked that Vick faded towards the end of the season. Sacks were more regular and so too were turnovers. In his last two starts (both losses) including the Wild Card loss to the Packers, Vick went down 9 times, produced just four scores and gave the ball away four times. His quarterback rating during those games was a very pedestrian 76.7.

Did opponents begin to figure Vick out?

Did they create a blueprint for beating the Vick-led Eagles?

Once again time will tell when it comes to Vick but lingering questions both on and off the field could leave the Eagles in a bind. Do they give him a big contract once the CBA issues are resolved or do they let the $16 million + franchise price tag ride?

This is really a tough call for the Eagles front office because they are one slip up from the Vick posse and one trade of Kevin Kolb away from a potentially disastrous 2011 season.

The Eagles would be wise to hang on to their insurance policy.

And like a good neighbor, Kevin Kolb is there.

Let’s hope the Eagles don’t screw this one up because this time the fans might not be so forgiving.