NFL: Michael Vick could represent a mass exodus of Eagles
By Frank Fitzpatrick
The Philadelphia Inquirer
ARLINGTON, Texas — It was so gruesome that we won’t know the identities of the victims until the autopsies are complete.
But one things seems clear: Philadelphia’s demoralizing 34-14 NFC wild-card loss to Dallas on Saturday night means the careers of some Eagles — perhaps many Eagles — are DOA.
And one of those departing could be Michael Vick.
The Eagles hold a $5 million option on the quarterback for next season. But if their interest in him isn’t any more significant than they displayed this season, why bother?
If the Vick experiment in Philadelphia is indeed over, it appears destined to be recalled as one marked by considerable barking and very little bite.
In that respect, his performance in the Eagles’ second consecutive lopsided loss to the Cowboys was one of similar extremes — a touchdown pass the first time he touched the ball, a crippling fumble the second.
Unused in the Eagles’ season-ending defeat at this same Cowboys Stadium, a Texas thumping that this game proved was no fluke, Vick returned to the field in the second quarter Saturday night.
He came into a game the Cowboys led, 7-0, on second and 3 at the Eagles’ 23. He took the snap, turned, faked a handoff to Leonard Weaver, broke left, and hit Jeremy Maclin alone up the sideline. Macklin scampered the rest of the way untouched.
That 76-yard touchdown, which answered the Cowboys’ first score in just 50 seconds, was the longest scoring-pass play in Eagles postseason history and the highlight of an otherwise miserable night for Philadelphia.
And it figures to be the only thing that many Philadelphians will recall about Vick’s bewildering time as an Eagle.
Remember all the buzz his signing generated?
After serving 23 months in prison for operating a brutal dogfighting ring, and being rejected by the Atlanta Falcons, Vick signed with the Eagles during their first preseason game.
He was national headlines when he arrived. His appearance on “60 Minutes” shortly afterward generated healthy ratings. Skepticism and optimism, equally healthy, filled the sports talk shows.
But in the weeks since, Vick has become little more than a curious footnote.
If this was the end, his brief and surprisingly bland Philadelphia tenure will have been bookmarked by turmoil. And in between — at least until Saturday night — were none of the explosions his supporters and detractors had anticipated, both on and off the field.
Signed to a one-year, $1.6 million deal after his prison stay ended, the onetime Atlanta star became a virtual phantom — a decoy at best — in midnight green.
Now, despite all the hype, hope and hatred directed at the man, he and millions of others must be asking themselves the same question:
“Why did the Eagles even bother?”
Vick’s touchdown toss Saturday night came on just his 14th pass attempt in a puzzling season. He became eligible in Week 3 and completed just seven passes in the regular season and playoff game, two for scores. He also ran the ball 24 times for 95 yards and two more touchdowns.
But the troubled QB never became the fleet-footed force so many envisioned in Andy Reid’s wide-open offense. Reid and his staff devised very little for their overly-hyped reclamation project.
And the tortured explanations that Vick, Reid and Jeffrey Lurie were forced to voice after his surprise arrival in Philadelphia infuriated dog lovers now seem pointless at the end of an equally puzzling Eagles season.
If that TD pass he threw Saturday night is going to be his signature Philadelphia play, what happened next won’t soon be forgotten, either. Not in Philadelphia, anyway.
Shortly after Dallas took a 17-7 lead, Vick entered for a second-and-10 play at the Eagles’ 20. He tried to hand off to Weaver, but the ball bounded off the fullback’s hip and back toward the quarterback.
Vick, on the turf by then, hesitated for an instant, then made a halfhearted reach for the loose ball. But by then Dallas’ Bobby Carpenter had arrived on the scene. The linebacker manhandled the prone QB and swiped the ball from him. Three plays later, it was 24-7 Cowboys.