I always like to remind my three readers that I’m writing for the barbershop and beauty shop crowd, and coincidentally this is where the best conversations seem to go down.
Now most of the time I would physically smooth on down to my usual Fades of Gray, grab a seat, and get the pulse of the people (you gotta love that kind of field work). However, for this go ‘round I can sit here at the computer and telepathically tell you with supreme certainty, like Ms. Cleo, exactly what 99.9% of the target market would say if asked “Should Michael Vick take over as quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles?” Here is a list of responses: “Yeah, Fool!” “You saw what happened when he came in the game last week, didn’t you?” “Boy quit wastin’ my time, you know Vick is that deal.” “Ha, ha, ha, wheeeew! Man, I knew Vick was ‘bout to come out and…(insert 30 minutes of loud, grandiose gesturing and laughing about how fast and amazing Michael Vick is on the field, and how their cousin dated him back in the day). And lastly, “That Insight News sports dude was just talking about concussions, and that’s what the Eagles starting quarterback (Kevin Kolb) has, and that ain’t good.”
Michael Vick came in the game in week 1 of the 2010 NFL season and sucked up all the air in the room just like he used to do. There must be something about the crisp, North Central American air that gives Michael Vick his spinach like Popeye because Green Bay Packer fans, as well as Viking fans, are front row witnesses to the victim side of Michael Vick’s highlight reel. Packer fans, and Brett Favre who was their quarterback in 2003 (wow that was a long time ago), certainly recall the snowy playoff day when Michael Vick came into hallowed Lambeau Field in Green Bay and wiped out a record that stood since 1933!! The Packers had never lost a home playoff game since the NFL instituted postseason playoffs in 1933. On that perfect bratwurst and cheese lover’s day, Michael Vick sucked all of the cheesy air out of the building. That game led the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship in only Michael Vick’s 2nd year in the NFL.
Vikings fans will forever be shown historic highlights of Vick beating the Vikings with a dash to the endzone and out of the Metrodome stadium in a high profile December overtime loss in 2002. I’m not sure that I have seen the “run off the field and into the tunnel to end the game” treatment in all my years of watching NFL football, and can’t imagine a quarterback winning a game in a more stunning fashion. While “Hail Mary” passes to win games in the last moments can be spectacular, seeing a quarterback run through an entire NFL defense to win a primetime overtime game, well, you could clearly hear all the air being sucked out of the Metrodome that night.
Tantalized by Vick’s talent, the Eagles brought Vick on-board last year. Likely the Eagles simply saw the hidden value of Vick at that time because of the stigma from Vick’s dog fighting conviction, which kept other teams from considering him. What the Eagles did not perhaps recognize enough, is that Vick is one of those “suck the air out of the room” talents. The Vikings have Brett Favre, who sucks the air out of a room pretty well himself. Basically what happens is that the expectation for that player to play becomes so large, that it looms over everything that the team does until they relent to the unavoidable talent of the player.
The pressure is on for the Eagles and their desired starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb. If Kolb doesn’t come back and play soon – and play well – then Vick’s talent will take over and force the Eagles hand. Interestingly, there is an old argument that rears its head through this situation: is it the system, or the players, that win games? The Eagles want Kolb to play because he fits the stiff vision of their offensive system: stand there and throw the ball. It’s hard to tell Vick to do that after he gets done running 70 or 80yards for a touchdown.
Michael Jordan had to stand on stage during his Hall of Fame speech and remind the owners of the Chicago Bulls, and other team sports executives, that it is the players that win games. The Atlanta Falcons seemed to try and do everything they could to reign-in Vick’s talent, but never went as far as they did when he was allowed to do his thing the way he did against the Packers in the 2003 playoffs. This ain’t it for this subject, so all I can say is sit back and enjoy the show. Talent wins out.
(Note: Last week I called Reggie Bush stupid for not honestly being able to cash-in on his collegiate celebrity. You shouldn’t call people stupid, and I’m self correcting before my momma calls.)