Does Michael Vick Deserve To Play Next Week?
Okay, so it was against the hapless Detroit Lions, a team that’s won just a handful of times over the course of the last three seasons. And okay, the Philadelphia Eagles basically mortgaged the franchise over the offseason, trading their captain and perennial leader Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins (a division rival, no less!) in order to allow Kevin Kolb the opportunity to take the reins as the starting quarterback for the team. And yes, you understand that prolonging Kolb’s growing pains probably isn’t the best move if the Eagles plan on using him well into the foreseeable future.
But after seeing what Eagles backup quarterback Michael Vick was able to do on the field on Sunday afternoon with Kolb out with a concussion, don’t you want to see a little bit more? Don’t you want to see if Vick can complete the comeback story of the century by overcoming a prison sentence, a slew of protesters and a long time away from the football field to take his place under center again? Don’t you want to see Michael Vick get a second chance?
At this point, it looks like no matter what you think, you’re not going to see it. That’s because after Vick led the Eagles to a 35-32 win over the Lions on Sunday, Eagles head coach Andy Reid promptly announced that Kolb would be rejoining the team—as a starter!—when the Eagles play the Jacksonville Jaguars next week. It’s a move by Reid that’s been criticized in some circles with some people going as far as to say that Vick—yes, Vick, the guy who came under such harsh criticism after admitting dogfighting allegations—is being treated unfairly in this situation.
And despite everything I just wrote, I happen to disagree. As much as I’d like to see Michael Vick get his second chance—and as much as I believe in second chances in general—most sports fans, casual observers of Vick’s case and even Eagles fanatics are missing the point when it comes to Vick and his current situation. I think the Eagles have a better chance at winning with Vick as their quarterback. I think his elusiveness on the field and his ability to generate excitement amongst fans is something that the Eagles need to win.
But looking long-term, Vick is not the solution the Eagles are looking for. He may have coincidentally earned himself a couple extra years on the football field by sitting out while he was in prison, but he’s still getting up there in age. He’s also a guy who still benefits from his ability to run the football at will—a characteristic that he won’t be able to use in a few years. And he’s got just one year remaining on his contract with the Eagles, meaning that if he does well this season, they’d likely have to set aside a large amount of money to resign him and give him some sort of guarantee that he’d be the starter for the team.
You also have to look at this from Kolb’s point of view. Though he struggled in the first game of the season, Kolb has hardly had the opportunity to prove himself as a starter in the league. If the Eagles give up on him now, they’ll likely crush his confidence and stunt his growth as a player. That’s all well and good if you’re an Eagles fan who doesn’t like Kolb to begin with. But if you’re planning on having Kolb around for the next few years, you need him to go through his growing pains now.
Bottom line: Michael Vick is an exciting player. He’ll fill seats and get Eagles fans excited next week. But in a year or two, when Vick’s not the player he used to be and the Eagles need to decide what to do with their future, where does that leave them? Kolb will have either moved on or be a backup quarterback on a team that he should be running. It’ll set the franchise back several years and it’ll mean the team will need to start over again at the quarterback position, which is something they’ve avoided following the McNabb Era in Philly.
I’m not saying Michael Vick doesn’t deserve a second chance in Philly. I want to see a little bit more from him this season just as much as the next sports fan. I’m just saying that Kolb should get a shot to prove that he can play, too, before the Eagles give up on him. Doesn’t he deserve that much?