Archive for Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick: Redemption or Repulsion?

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2009 by nathanelwell

Eagles Vick Signs Football

Two NFL seasons prior, I took advantage of an opportunity to see the Falcons play in a preseason game at the Georgia Dome.  For the life of me, I cannot remember who they were playing.  I can’t remember who was playing quarterback for the Falcons, either.  One thing is for sure – it wasn’t Michael Vick.  Vick was busy “sleeping in the bed that he had made for himself”.  Vick was convicted of many things, all surrounding the dog fighting ring that he was involved in.  Vick pleaded guilty, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, and was eventually put in prison.

Back to the preseason game… Interestingly enough, there was a major polarization in the Dome that day, all caused by Vick.  I saw several fans wearing Michael Vick jerseys, with signs defending and supporting him as an athlete and person.  I saw other fans with large signs, picking their favorite four letter word along with Vick’s name attached.  There were animal rights activists outside discouraging fans from going to the game (I’m putting it politely).  You could almost cut the tension in the Dome with a knife.  Fast forward 2 years later, and Michael Vick has been released from prison.  Beyond that, the headlines on all the major sports websites today showed that Vick has just signed a new deal to play for the Philadelphia Eagles.  And this is where the volcano explodes!  Time to bring out a cheesy cliche…

Right now, in the palm of my hand, I am holding a shiny quarter.  As I’m in the mood to use a cliche, I’d like to bust out the “two sides to every coin” line that people love to use (or hate to use, depending on who you ask).  I’d like to try this cliche on Vick, and the latest publicity spike that comes with him.  The question at hand is….are you ready???  Do you feel that Vicks reinstatement in the NFL is redemptive, or do you feel it is repulsive?  Time to flip the coin – Heads is redemption, tails is repulsion.

quarter_heads

Heads it is!…  Vick busted on to the national football scene back in 1999, when as a quarterback, he scored 3 rushing touchdowns in one quarter.  Then came the 2000 season when he led the Virginia Tech Hokies to an 11-0 record and a berth in the title game at the Nokia Sugar Bowl.  Then came the 2001 NFL draft, where he was drafted first overall.  With the Falcons, some of his achievements were: most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, 100-yard career rushing games as a quarterback, rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback, highest average per carry in a single season….  The list goes on and on.  Some of you may remember when Michael Vick got injured, and had to be pushed around on a wheel chair.  Vick was such a superstar, that even Falcons owner Arthur Blank was willing to push him around on it.  I’m sure that many of you who just read the last paragraph are thinking “I could care less about his football accomplishments”, or “this guy is a creep”, or “Is he part of that family who created the vapor rub?”.  Whatever it is you’re thinking, no doubt many of you have one association in your mind of Michael Vick – the abuse of probably 100’s if not 1,000’s of animals.  But after serving 2 years in prison, has Michael Vick atoned for his mistakes?  Does he deserve to get another chance?  The first individual who, by example, has tried to show redemption to Michael Vick is Tony Dungy, former Super Bowl winning coach of the Colts.  Dungy has spend time talking with Vick, and mentoring him.  This is what he had to say today: “I really got the sense that he wanted to do great things…he wanted to be a positive role model for young people.  he wanted to get back to his family. ”  The Atlanta Falcons released a statement that “Michael has been given a good opportunity to restart his career in the NFL, and we wish him well.”  Some would say that Vick deserves a second chance.  I would guess, Manny Ramirez, Ron Artest, Josh Hamilton, and John Daly would all say that.  America is the country of second chances, right?    And after that, I now need to flip the coin again.

us_quarter_tails

Now its tails.  Vick has surrounded himself with problems all his life.  This persistence would make one wonder if Vick can ever learn from his mistakes.  A truck registered in Vicks name  driven by two other men was pulled over and busted for marijuana distribution.  The stolen watch incident in Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport.  The civil lawsuit filed by a woman who claims Vick gave him genital herpes.  Flicking off fans after a loss.  The “secret compartment” in his water bottle.  And of course, the dog fighting mess.  The persistent abuse, torture, murder, electrocution, etc etc etc of hundreds of pit bulls, among other dogs.  As a dog owner, I can’t even go into the gruesome details without wanting to run to the bathroom and hurl.  Some people would say that for a person to torture an animal is almost worse than torturing a human, because animals love unconditionally (unlike humans, which is sad).  I can see why people would say that.  There are definitely days when I’d rather interact with my dogs than with people.  Especially if the people are White Sox fans.  But seriously, with Vick being an athletic superstar, and a champion that children were supposed to look up to, it angers many people to see Vick back into the spotlight.  Bill Smith, who is the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue said the following today: “I’m really shocked that he’s coming to Philadelphia.  He kept talking about second chances. His dogs didn’t get a second chance.  There are alot of people out there who deserve second chances more than Michael Vick.”  Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said of Vick that, “I needed to see alot of self hatred in order to approve this”.  A member of the governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board said the following: “Over the last three years, Pennsylvania has made historic strides in bringing attention to the abuse and neglect that so many dogs suffer in this state and throughout the country…For the Philadelphia Eagles, knowing the heinous crimes committed by this man, to sign him is unconscionable.”  There are many, many angry fans who would love to give Vick a cheap shot.

So we’ve seen both sides of the coin, and I think its fair to say that each individual will have varying opinions on the matter.  Should we feel like Vick’s comeback is a story of redemption?  Should we feel like Vick even crawling his way back to the NFL is repulsive?  In my opinion, only time will tell.  But the hurdles will far outweigh the straight-aways.

Playoff Weekend

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by nathanelwell

ravens1 vs. titans cardinals1 vs. panthers

eagles1 vs. giants chargers1 vs. steelers

Last week, probably one of the funniest articles on the accurate www.theonion.com was published.  For those of you that haven’t read the onion, it provides hours of chuckling with mock articles of varying degree such as: “American Airlines Now Charging Fees for Non Passengers” and “$700 Billion Bailout Celebrated with Lavish $800 Billion executive party“.  So I couldn’t help practically losing my lunch laughing when I read this week: “LaDanian Tomlinson to Play Next Week Without a Groin“.  With humor and satire, The Onion actually chose a title that draws some truth.  Although LT won’t be playing without a groin, there is some doubt that he’ll be playing at all.  Lets mow through this weeks matchups and predict who the winners and losers will be (ahem, last weekend I was 2-2 with the exact score guessed correctly in the Falcons/Cardinals matchup!!)

Ravens vs. Titans

The Ravens destroyed the Dolphins last week, thanks to their defense forcing 4 Pennington interceptions and 2 fumbles (1 recovered).  Look for the Ravens to do more of the same this week against the overrated Titans.  The Titans eeked out a win against the Ravens in the regular season, but the Ravens held Chris Johnson to 44 rushing yards.  I’m predicting that the Ravens will come up big yet again, and will stifle the Titan’s run offense.  There are only so many 150 yard passing games that Kerry Collins can pull off before it is too good to be true.

Final Score: Ravens 24 – Titans 17

Cardinals vs. Panthers

This matchup will feature two veteran QBs who have both appeared in the Super Bowl (Kurt Warner won, Jake Delhomme did not).  Look for there to be some major fireworks.  The Panthers will most certainly use their running game in DeAngelo Williams, but have receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed to go deep.  Kurt Warner will use his experience to go to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin frequently (as long as Boldin’s hammy holds up).  The Cardinals are only 2-6 against the Panthers but lets face it, The Cards traditionally suck and haven’t had a team like this before.  I would like to see the Cardinals win, but my gut tells me that the Panthers will pull out the victory.

Final Score: Panthers 34 – Cardinals 23

Eagles vs. Giants

In perhaps the most exciting matchup in this year’s playoffs, so the Eagles will travel to the Meadowlands to face the defending Super Bowl Champions.  The Eagles are running on adrenaline, after miraculously making it into the playoffs, and stunning the Vikings at home last week.  The Eagles handed the Giants one of their 4 losses this year, and the Giants only barely scratched out a win against the Eagles in week 6.  The Giants are without Plaxico Burress (whoops) and will have to rely on other options.  Eli has had time to rest, but is it too long?  We will see.  I’m going to predict an upset.

Final Score: Eagles 23 – Giants 20

Chargers vs. Steelers

And here we come to the subject of the onion article above.  Will LT play or wont he?  Who really cares?  I doubt he would be much of a factor anyways.  With last weeks performance from Darren Sproles, we may need to go from LT to DS.  With 328 total yards and 2 touchdowns last week, Sproles left the Colt defense in the dust (and put LT in a cold sweat).  I salivate when I think about “what might have been” if Turner had stayed with the Chargers.  Could you imagine a Turner/Sproles combo?  Who would have thunk it.  And we have Big Ben.  His concussion 2 weeks ago could be a factor this weekend, although he has had time to rest.  The Steelers held off the Chargers in an 11-10 bore in regular season.  How will the Chargers fare this week?  I’m convinced that Philip Rivers will be at his finest, and has plenty of ammunition to work with.  The Chargers will keep it close, and will end up pulling out the victory at the end of the game.

Final Score: Chargers 30 – Steelers 27

Now go watch some football!

NFL Playoffs features birds of all kinds

Posted in 1, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by nathanelwell

falconsvs.   cardinals coltsvs.  chargers

ravensvs. dolphins eagles vs. vikings

In the words of our pot smoking friend Dave Matthews, “This is the Last Stop” in our NFL season. On Saturday, the first two games of this year’s playoffs will begin  by showcasing the Falcons vs. Cardinals, and Colts vs. Chargers.  On Sunday it’ll be the Eagles vs. Vikings and Ravens vs. Dolphins. There is a lot of irony in the first round of match-ups. Let’s start by the fact that the combined win-loss record of all  of this weekend’s 8 playoff teams last year was an unimpressive 58-70.  Two teams (Falcons and Dolphins) won a combined 5 games.  Only 2 of the 8 teams actually had a winning record in 2007.  This year, things have changed for the better.  The combined win-loss record of the 8 teams is 81-46 (and 1 tie by the Eagles).  The Falcons and Dolphins combined for 23 wins, which is more than 4x greater than last season (with 2 new head coaches and starting QBs, this is not surprising).  Another startling fact is that 2 of the 8 Quarterbacks are rookies (Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens).  Now lets look at the individual match-ups, and I’ll make predictions on the outcome (disclaimer: If you should bet on any game based on my predictions and lose, too bad.)

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals

We are looking at two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs for quite some time (3 years for the Falcons, 9 years for the Cardinals).  They have never faced each other in the playoffs, and the Cardinals have a 14-10 record against the Falcons in regular season history.  This past season, the Cardinals had a 6-2 record at home while the Falcons had a 4-4 record away.  In the postseason, the Cardinals have a 2-5 record with 1 championship, and the Falcons have a 6-8 record with a Super Bowl appearance but no ring.   The Cardinals have 2 powerhouse receivers in Boldin and Fitzgerald, plus a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Kurt Warner.  The Falcons have arguably one of the best rushers in the NFL in Michael Turner, and the Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Matt Ryan.

In my opinion, the offensive power of the Cardinals plus the home crowd starving for a playoff game will be too much to handle for the Falcons.

The final score: Cardinals 30 – Falcons 24 (sorry other Nate!)

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers

We go from 2 inexperienced playoff teams to 2 veteran playoff teams in the Colts-Chargers.  Look for an exciting game full of offensive explosiveness, with two of the weakest defenses out of the 12 playoff teams.  The Colts have a 9 game winning streak, Peyton Manning won his 3rd league MVP, and lets not even talk about all the options Manning has to pass to (Wayne, Harrison, Gonzalez, Clark).  Manning will undoubtedly use Dallas Clark, who was the #1 tight end receiver in the NFL this year (up for debate, but not really).  This will keep the Charger’s secondary on their heels, with too many options for Manning to choose from.  The Colts have a 17-17 record in the playoffs with 4 championships/super bowls under their belt.  They have faced the Chargers twice in the playoffs with a 1-1 record (they lost last year at home).  Their regular season record against the Chargers is 9-14.  The Chargers have Philip Rivers, LT, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson.  Their playoff record is 9-14, and they have 1 championship/superbowl to be proud of.  The Chargers ended the regular season with a 4 game winning streak, and beat incredible odds after being behind by 3 games in their division with 3 games to go.  (ahem….cough….choke….BRONCOS).  So needless to say, both teams have the momentum going into the playoffs.  The Chargers have home field advantage, and the Colts probably have the playoff experience.

In my opinion, the Colts will end up victorious in this classic playoff match-up

The final score: Colts 38 – Chargers 23

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins

First of all, let me say to pretty boy Jason Taylor: Sucks to be you!  I wish you were still a Dolphin.  Whoever predicted these two teams to face each other in the playoffs this year are crazy.  “Why?” You should ask?  Both teams had losing records last year (combined 6 wins between both teams), both teams fired their head coaches, and now have 2 different starting quarterbacks, one of which is a rookie (Joe Flacco).  Last year, the Dolphins defeated the Ravens in the last regular season game for the Dolphins 1st win of 2007.  So all that to say, the Dolphins could repeat this feat, but only to advance to the next round of the playoffs.  For the Ravens we have one of the best defenses of the league (#3 in the league in opponents points, #2 for total yards, and #1 for opponent first downs).  My guess would be that the game could be low scoring.  Joe Flacco passed for just under 3000 yards in 2008, with 17 touchdowns.  Le’Ron McClain was their top rusher at 902 yards for the season, and Derrick Mason their top receiver with just over 1000 yards receiving.  Bottom line is the Ravens had one of the better rush offenses in the league, but one of the worst passing offenses in the league.  They’ll probably win the game if they succeed on the rushing attack (ahem, are you paying attention, Dolphins?).  And what about Chad Pennington, QB for the Dolphins?  Ironic that he should beat the team that gave him the boot for the AFC East crown AND a playoff spot (sorry Favre, you should have retired).  With a better than average rush and pass offense, the Dolphins should put up a pretty good fight.  Cracking the Raven defense will be the key.  And patience for Pennington will be important, as the Ravens lead the league in interceptions.  Look for Pennington to choose a wide variety of receivers (Cobbs, Ginn Jr., Camarillo, Bess), and to hand the ball off to both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  The Dolphins have 20 playoff victories and 2 Super Bowl rings, while the Ravens have 5 playoff victories and 1 Super Bowl ring.

I’m going for the Dolphins, as they have a much more consistent offense than the Ravens.  If the Ravens had a more consistent passing game I may change my mind.

The final score: Dolphins 24 – Ravens 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings

This will be an exciting game for two teams whose playoff hopes went down to the last regular season game.  There will be a single deciding factor in this entire game: Adrian Peterson.  Will he show up with steady hands or butterfingers?  Peterson fumbled the ball 9 times this year.  This will be the key for a Vikings offense that ranked #25 in the league (the Lions were even better than the Vikings).  Look for Tarvaris Jackson to throw to Berrian, Wade, and Shiancoe.  Look for Donovan McNabb to come through in the clutch as he has in so many playoff games past.  With Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, and nearly 7 other eligible receivers, McNabb will use a variety of offensive plays for sure.     With the #6 offense and the #4 defense in the league, look for the Eagles to stop Peterson dead in his tracks.

The final score: Eagles 26 – Vikings 20

So in summary:

The winners: Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles

The losers: Falcons, Chargers, Ravens, Vikings

Enjoy watching the game, for those few souls who survived my torturous post.