Friday, August 14, 2009

Vick's 'Second Chance'

Quarterback Michael Vick speaks of how "everybody deserves a second chance." And the Philadelphia Eagles have given him one.

You might say the Eagles have been down this road before. After he discredited himself in San Francisco, Terrell Owens was given a second chance by the Eagles. He helped Philadelphia finally get to a Super Bowl, but he turned out to be the same clubhouse poison he had been with the 49ers and he moved on to Dallas, where the pattern was repeated and he now finds himself playing for the Buffalo Bills.

Vick, who spent nearly two years in prison after his conviction on felony dogfighting charges, doesn't seem to be the same sort of person that Owens was. He doesn't strike me as a cancerous influence on the team, but it remains to be seen if two years away from the game have robbed him of the talents that impressed pro football fans.

Like Owens, Vick was the beneficiary of the generosity of quarterback Donovan McNabb. And, in many ways, it seems to me McNabb is being even more generous this time. Owens stabbed him in the back when he left the Eagles as his "thank you" — a pattern he repeated when he left Dallas.

McNabb could hardly be blamed for being hesitant to go out on another limb, but he isn't that sort of guy.

For that matter, Vick isn't the same kind of guy as Owens.

Vick seems more humble and, even though he plays the same position as McNabb, he says that "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for [the] opportunity I have been given."

He won't be allowed to play in regular season games until October. but he says he isn't concerned about playing time right now. And that is probably just fine with McNabb, who, at 32, presumably realizes that age and recent injuries are catching up to him and his career in pro football is finite. Vick, 29, is not that much younger than McNabb, but if his skills are not diminished and he demonstrates that he truly wants to make the most of his second chance, he will be positioned to take over when McNabb's days with the Eagles are finished.

Ross Tucker worries that a quarterback controversy will be brewing in Philadelphia. And it is hard to argue with his logic. He says signing Vick was a mistake.

But Tucker's colleague, SI's Peter King, feels Vick and the Eagles are a near–perfect match, but not everyone in Philadelphia is sold.

"Philadelphia is a city of dog lovers and, most particularly, pit bull lovers," Susan Cosby, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' chief executive officer, said. "To root for someone who participated in the hanging, drowning, electrocution and shooting of dogs will be impossible for many, no matter how much we would all like to see the Eagles go all the way."

If Vick is wise, he will use the first month of the regular season to work to win over those who see him not as a talented football player but as an animal abuser.

Well, persuading the doubters always was going to be a significant part of his rehabilitation no matter where he went.

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