Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

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.