Editor’s Note: Ryan Webber wrote this article prior to yesterday’s Eagles game vs. the Atlanta Falcons. Vick was 2-for-2 with 48 yards passing and 1TD through the air. He also had 4 rushes for 17 yards and another TD. Should yesterday’s performance change Ryan’s views?
As a Philadelphia region resident, I was very surprised when the Eagles signed Michael Vick in August. I am an avid animal lover and had reserves about the image that signing Vick sent to the public. My first thought was, “what purpose does this deal serve?” It has taken 12 weeks, but I think I finally figured it out.
This week, after reading the terms of the deal, I realized that the deal includes a provision where the team has until the fifth day of the league year in 2010 to pick up the team’s option for a second year. Originally, it seemed like Philadelphia’s idea was that this would give them some time to potentially trade Vick before deciding whether or not to pick up Vick for next season. I thought the Eagles would work him back into playing shape slowly, then maybe use him in a WildCat scenario as a running option. To me this would showcase his talent best. This would then pave way for another team to trade for him to use either as a QB or for use in the WildCat as a runner or even receiver.
However, the Eagles have not done much to showcase Vick this season. He has appeared sparingly for the Eagles so far this season. And when given the chance, Vick hasn’t taken advantage of his playing time. He currently is 3 for 9 passing for a mere 6 yards. He has also ran 15 times for 65 yards. He has yet to score (Editor’s Note: Again these stats do not consider yesterday’s output). These are hardly numbers that will generate much trade interest from other teams.
To me, it seems unlikely that anyone will make a trade with the Eagles after watching him so far, unless Vick somehow shines in the remainder of the season and postseason. Vick will inevitably sign with some team other than the Eagles next year. Its hard to see how they could exercise an option to pay him $3.75 million as a backup. He likely will become a free agent and then sign elsewhere. The Eagles would then lose out on any potential trade that Vick could bring. What purpose did signing Vick serve for the Eagles organization?
The only answer I could come up with is that it put them in the national spotlight for a time and also took some of the city’s attention away from the Philadelphia Phillies as they made their run to the World Series. Since Vick has had no impact on the field, it seems to me like Vick was a $1.6 million marketing tool designed to generate interest in the Eagles and sell tickets and merchandise. I’m sure it has generated more interest in the team by way of ticket sales and merchandise sales.
However, the situation could have blown up in the Eagles face. They could have lost several fans who love animals more than football. I for one am one of them. But I still watch the Eagles, so I guess their plan worked. I do question management’s decision to invest $1.6 million in Vick if this was their true goal. I can think of numerous other ways to invest the money that are not as likely to lose fans.
As the Sixers have recently signed Iverson for the remainder of the season in part to boost ticket sales, you have to wonder if this will be a recurring marketing trend in sports: Sign a player who is controversial in order to sell tickets.