Michael Vick has been in the news a bunch this week, mostly because he’s shopping a book that touches on the dogfighting scandal, his subsequent downfall from stardom and return to the fold. Oh yeah, there’s also a football season getting ready to start in a month and a half, so someone wanted to ask him how he thought that was going to go. What’s this? Uh oh, Vick is baiting the trolls…
“When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there,â€ Vick said. â€œI think we have a chance to be that.”
It’s actually a pretty measured comment. Vick doesn’t say AWWWW YEUHHHHHH WE ABOUT TO BE A DYNASTY POP THAT BUBBLY. He’s acknowledging what a consensus of pundits and fans had already agreed upon a year ago: that the Eagles were arguably the best team in the league on paper. It’s a narrative that followed them throughout the 2011 season. At the outset, people wondered what it would take for Philly somehow not to excel. “Can this team possibly blow it?” Even as the season fell apart, the discourse surrounding the Eagles was incredulity that a team this talented could underachieve as much as it did. So Vick is basically citing what everyone has already accepted as truth: that the Eagles have a roster rich with talent-y goodness and if they can somehow harness that potential over the long-term, they could win one or many championships.
Nevertheless, asswipe media trolls with nothing else to do in July immediately seized on the inflammatory potential of the quote and cried out DURRRRRRR IT’S DREAM TEAM TWO. WHEN WILL THE EAGLES LEARN????
Here’s CBS’ reaction:
His comments will undoubtedly be scrutinized by fans of the other three NFC East teams, as well as critics quick to point out that Philly managed just eight wins last season after assembling — on paper, anyway — one of the league’s best teams.
THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID. If the Eagles can live up to the team they’ve assembled “on paper”, they could conceivably be a great team, possibly an all-time great team if things shake out right.
Look, I’m not a Vick apologist and I hate the ever-loving sh*t out of the Eagles. I’d love for them to finish 4-12, a disastrous season, but jjjjjust good enough not to net them top pick and let the Iggles get Matt Barkley. Or maybe they could go 9-7, allowing Andy Reid to inexplicably save his job with sufficient mediocrity to make the playoffs and get trounced in the first round. Either way, really.
Yet the reaction to this Vick quote still annoys me as it’s another maddening case where the media has forced an athlete into a zero-sum game with issuing expectations. He can’t conceivably be like, “we’re gonna suck balls next year” or “our season? ehhhhhh, I’m seeing maybe .500-ish”. Especially because the quote in question came in an interview with CSN Philly, a local sports outlet. The intended audience is Eagles fans. There’s a certain amount of stoking of hopes that has to be done. Yet Vick isn’t doing so unreasonably. He’s drawing about what everyone already thinks about the team to present a best-case scenario. When journalists bitch that athletes never want to open up or give them revealing quotes, this is exactly why.
I know it’s the most desolate stretch of the off-season and controversy has to be ginned up however possible, but let’s wait for the Eagles to actually do something stupid before opening up the floodgates of scorn and ridicule on them. Because it’s so much sweeter that way.