John McMullen. 31st August, 2009 - 6:03 pm
The signing of Michael Vick was strange on so many levels for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ray Charles could have seen the obvious -- things like the public relations mess, the blatant hypocrisy coming from the team's head coach, and the fact that Vick is a proverbial square peg to the round hole that is the West Coast offense.
Then there were the more subtle pot holes littered all over the road -- like Donovan McNabb's fragile ego.
Let's play devil's advocate and buy McNabb's assertion that he lobbied with Andy Reid to sign Vick. Reid should have known better. He's been with McNabb since Day 1 when Angelo Cataldi and his band of idiots made the bus trip to New York on draft day and booed D-Mac out the building.
Despite his contrived fawning over Vick, "Big Red" should have understood more than anyone that McNabb is the most sensitive big-time quarterback in the game, someone that was quickly going to tire of Vick's presence.
No one knew just quick McNabb would get his fill.
Perhaps it was the ovation that Vick received when entering Thursday's preseason game against Jacksonville on the second play. Most expected a mixed reaction for the most reviled athlete in sports. Instead, fans accepted Vick with no questions asked, not exactly the kind of welcome Donovan remembers.
Each time Vick was shuttled into the game, fans perked up and McNabb got more and more frustrated before finally making a one-handed "kill it" gesture to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, muttering something about "got no rhythm."
Of course, Reid denied that McNabb asked Marty to pull the plug despite all the visual evidence to the contrary that ran on ESPN ad nauseam.
Even WIP's Howard Eskin, the sideline reporter for the game and a guy who usually bends over backwards for Reid, claimed multiple players confirmed McNabb was upset with the way things were going.
"It was tough," McNabb said after the game. "I think in any situation, honestly, when you're trying something new, it's important that you get into a rhythm first and then try to work it and work it in there in the offense.
"Offensively, we just can't really get that going consistently and I thought we did some great things that presented some pressure to the defense, but at some point you have to get into a rhythm and get things going down the field and move the chains.
"Then you kind of show them something, but this was the first time. That's what preseason is for -- trying some different things and seeing if you want to run them during the year or eliminate them in the offense. We got that out of the way and now we can move on."
Trust me, no one is moving on.
The second-string quarterback is almost always the most popular player on an NFL roster, at least until the fans actually get a long, hard look at him.
I'll never forget covering the border battles between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers during Brett Favre's prime. Now understand, this was wheelhouse Favre, the three-time Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl winner, the guy who was one of the five best signal callers to ever play the game.
Well, the Metrodome used to be a House of Horrors for Favre, a gunslinger apt to make two of three bad throws a game even then. Inevitably, one of those tosses would cost the Pack in Minny, sending thousands of fans back to Wisconsin with their tails tucked into their Cheeseheads, griping about Favre.
It was a vocal minority but dozens of fans assured me Ty Detmer could do a better job.
Which brings us back full circle to McNabb. Even during his solid seasons, D-Mac always goes through a poor stretch where he spends a week or two throwing ground balls to his receivers.
In the past, struggles like that have had Eagles fans clamoring for A.J. Feeley and Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks Detmer would have chuckled at.
Now, there is actually an option with talent, an option that has superior physical skills to McNabb. And, an option that wants to play quarterback.
"Down the road I'll be back at the QB position full time, but as of right now I just have to do what I can to win," Vick said.
Enjoy your quarterback controversy.
-- You can reach John McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org