Friday, August 14, 2009

Every Dog Has His Day and Michael Vick Just Got His Day in Philadelphia

Note to our readers: As long as Michael Vick continues
to build a respectible reputation and until he truly
demonstrates he has shown adequate remorse and proves
to be a respectable and good man, we will continue to
show pictures of cute, wonderful beagles to
remind the world that lovable animals like the fellah
shown above were drowned and electrocute if they
weren't useful being torn to shreds by fighting dogs.
Imagine one of God's greatest gifts to humanity
being treated as live bait for a sick, depraved "sport."
Seldom is RMF at a loss for words, but Michael Vick signing with the Philadelphia Eagles leaves this writer finding himself in a state of shock and awe.

First impression, the Philadelphia Eagles, those fans, whoa, Vick is toast!!! Each of the major northeast cites: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington has its own particular character that might not be consistent from how their NFL and MLB fans approach things, but Philadelphia fans are special. They’re a work of art. They are tough, demanding, and have one hell of an attitude, but going to a game in Philadelphia is a fun experience. The fans generally are very nice to each other and accommodating of out of town visitors as long as they’re not from New York or DC. They’re very respectful of Baltimore.

For the city that has the reputation for booing Santa Claus, they were unbelievably tough on Michael Schmidt, the greatest third baseman ever (that takes a lot to say for a Baltimorean who grew up watching Brooks Robinson). Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham took it on the chin. Egads, is Donovan McNabb more courageous taking a beating from the opposition’s defense or how the local fans and press clobber him. Baltimore saw the Eagles’ worst unraveling when in late November, they appeared to cough up any expectation of post season play as the Ravens had them buried by the end of the first half leading coach Andy Reid to benching McNabb in the second half. The uproar on Philadelphia sports radio after the game was outrageous. The commentator on 610 WIP declared that on that date Philadelphia had witnessed “the end of an era” that the McNabb and Reid era was over.

Clearly, on that difficult afternoon last November, that observation appeared valid, but who was the last team standing in the NFC facing up to the team that would triumph to go on to the Super Bowl? McNabb swallowed his pride and Reid laid out the plans, and the Eagles, with a little help from division contenders falling below expectations snuck into the playoffs and looked strong until they faced the surprising Arizona Cardinals.

Though the Philadelphia press and fans are viciously critical, Owner Jeff Lurie built one of the most stable effective organizations in sports. Look at what team has been in the hunt the most frequently in the NFC, it would be hard not to recognize the Eagles. The Baltimore Ravens benefit from the training grounds that organization provides for leadership in the person of John Harbaugh who coached special teams in Philadelphia before coming to Baltimore.

The Eagles aren’t a team to move on impulse. Their moves are carefully planned for the team’s benefit. Some might point to the deal for Terrell Owens as being an exception, but think of how that deal came down. San Francisco traded Owens to Baltimore, one of the few idiotic moves Ozzie “In Oz We Trust” Newsome ever made. Owens refused to come to Baltimore, then the Ravens and the NFL attempted to solve another T.O. explosion. The Eagles got a very talented player for a very cheap down payment. In his first year, Owens played brilliantly, but it would be in his second year, the Eagles paid the price. They dealt with Owens with firm resolve and ridded themselves of that nuisance as quickly as possible.
So how will Michael Vick’s story be written in Philadelphia? Donovan McNabb was outspoken in support that Vick should be brought back into the league. Was he surprised it would be on his team? What will the Eagles do once Vick clears his league suspension when a talent of McNabb is in front of him with another year on his contract remaining?

Will Vick be groomed as the QB of the future but put into service in the new “Wildcat” schemes that became popular last year through out the year such as how the Ravens would pull in Troy Smith to line up in the slot with Joe Flacco under center? No quarterback had the rushing ability Michael Vick demonstrated. Imagine that potential with the Eagles.

While speculation on the Philadelphia’s fans’ reaction is the bigger story, what’s going to happen when Vick shows up on enemy fields particularly when Philadelphia travels to Atlanta late in the season? Does anybody doubt things could get a little crazy?

This Ravens fan would surely be barking like a dog and maybe wear a sweatshirt with a gun toting Snoopy or an adorable beagle with a Ravens’ helmet to let the dog killer have it.

The bottom line is, the first step to rehabilitation is satisfying the terms of the law. Vick went to jail and served his sentence allowing him to be a free man. We can argue if the penalty was too soft, but the law is the law. He now faces paying back enormous legal bills. However, what is the ultimate price that determines his debt to society? Now the world of football fans and dog lovers can have their say and how Vick stands up to the rough treatment that’s coming will say a lot.

So far, the way Vick has behaved since leaving prison would appear to be a public relations agent’s dream. Who would be a better person to vouch for his character and serve as the perfect role model for his reconstruction that Tony Dungy, recently retired coach of the Indianapolis Colts? Not only is Dungy seen as a man of tremendous character, he has dealt with the worst of personal horrors having buried a son who committed suicide as the Colts appeared on an unstoppable quest for the Super Bowl. Vick has also worked with the ASFPCA to become a spokesman for proper treatment of animals. While he hedges on speaking of the specific things he did wrong, torturing, killing, and abusing dogs, Vick makes few excuses and accepts responsibility on his shoulders.

Vick’s rehabilitation should not be easy, and the cultural hazing he is about to endure will be largely deserved. Sure, there might be some sickos who find some way to go over the line, but lots of barking and howling, shouts of “dog killer,” and other such taunts are understandable and it would take a real snooty moralist to deplore such behavior.

The story begins tomorrow when Vick shows up at training camp. How many games will Roger Goodell establish as suspension? So far, Goodell indicated up to week six.

We will close with one last parting shot to those who minimize Vick’s crimes, attempt to invoke race as an issue, or argue hunting’s legal and isn’t that the same thing? Moral clarity is a precious commodity in American society. Sports fans are no different than the cultural cretins.

We’re going to let Vick have it, but we pray he is a man who can truly amend for his sinful behavior and find redemption. The world at large so far has paved the way for him and programmed him for success; the rest is entirely on his shoulders. He will have to be an exceptional man to rise above the problems he created.

The people who call sports radio, mostly African Americans, who make all kinds of excuses for Vick, minimize his crime, or argue anything about his treatment is unfair are totally clueless on this subject. How dare anyone suggest Michael Vick has been treated unfairly. If there has ever been an example of a just and fair society attempting to deal with such a sick and horrible crime, the Michael Vick tragedy shows lots of good people doing good things. We believe he should have spent much more time in jail, but we do believe the system did what it had to do. It’s a good example of what our legal system is capable of doing at its best.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see my neighbor walking her cute little beagle puppy. I shed a tear thinking of a creature so full of fun and joy ever was touched by the hands of Michael Vick.

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