Damn you, Andy Reid. Damn you, Jeff Lurie. Damn you both for putting me in the position of rooting for a team with a dog murderer on it. Let me make this clear: I don’t want Vick on my team. As a dog owner, I abhor him and the horrific things he did. Anyone who gets off on torturing helpless animals has something wrong upstairs. What Vick did was the behavior of a sociopath, plain and simple.
I would be all for second chances, even for a thug like Vick, if I truly believed he was remorseful. However, I don’t think he regrets what he did; I think he just regrets getting caught. I don’t see how the Eagles can justify signing Vick after firing T.O. because of his character. Reid always talks about having character guys but I guess his standards have significantly lowered. As much of an a-hole as T.O. is, he has never been a criminal like Vick. And as others have pointed out, if they’re so big on second chances, why not rehire Dan Leone, the handicapped employee who had the audacity to criticize the Eagles on facebook for not resigning Brian Dawkins?
And I won’t even get into why I thought this signing made no football sense, that’s for another article.
That being said, I am going to watch and root for the Eagles this Sunday. A lot of people have said they will never watch another game, and a lot of people from other towns have said that if their team had signed Vick, they would have stopped rooting for them. Well, that’s easy to say when you’re not actually faced with the situation, and even easier to say if you live in a city with multiple teams to switch your allegiance to. It’s also easy to say if you were only a casual fan of the team to begin with. But for those of us who have bled Eagle green our entire lives, it’s not such an easy thing to abandon the team you love and grew up with. And Eagles fans are not alone in this: nobody in New York stopped rooting for the Knicks when they signed Latrell Sprewell after he tried to strangle his previous coach to death, and nobody in Philly stopped rooting for the Phillies when Brett Myers beat his wife.
Why? Because the team is bigger than any single person. You can hate certain members of the organization all you want, but in the end, when it comes down to game day, they’re still your team. You’re not going to suddenly start rooting for the Cowboys. The Eagles are bigger than Vick or Reid or Lurie. This football team was around long before those guys got here, and it will be around long after they’re gone. For me, the Eagles are Jaworski, Montgomery, and Bergey. They are Cunningham, Quick, and White. They are McNabb, Westbrook, and Dawkins. These are the players I have rooted for my whole life. I have never rooted for the coach or the owner, so there’s no reason I can’t continue to follow my football team in spite of my disgust with Eagles management.
Does that mean that all is forgiven? Hell no. I don’t think I will be approaching this season with the same gung-ho enthusiasm that I have in the past. Maybe the disgust will wear off at some point, but it will take time. I definitely will NOT cheer when Vick takes the field. Does that mean I will boo if he makes a big play? I can’t honestly say, but if I had my wish, he would never set foot on the football field in the regular season. When Vick is on the field, do you hope he gets sacked even if it means the Eagles lose? Once again, damn you Reid and Lurie for putting me in this position.
I won’t go to the games this season and I won’t buy merchandise, but I will watch on TV. Some of you may say that still puts money in Vick’s pocket, and while the Eagles do get revenue from television broadcasts, it is a deal in which all NFL teams share equally, so anyone who watches ANY football game on television is technically putting money into Vick’s pocket. But I’m not here to argue about the nuances of NFL finances. I’m just here to declare that the Eagles are still my football team, and I intend to continue rooting for them to win on Sunday afternoons. I’m going to root for McNabb and Westbrook and Cole and Jackson and everyone else on the team who deserves my loyalty.
If you are among those who will never watch a game again, I respect your feelings. I just ask that you respect mine as well.