Last weekend, four NFL teams “switched quarterbacks”. The Bills, Panthers and Raiders changed from their #1 QB at the start of the season to the guy that was #2 on their roster just two weeks before. The Eagles “sort of switched QBs” when Andy Reid changed his mind in mid-week about who would start the game last Sunday. Of those four teams, only the Eagles won last weekend. And therein lie two lessons that fanboys who screech for the insertion of backup QBs – - or backup players in general – - should but probably will not learn:
Lesson 1: Talent wins in the NFL more often than not. The four QBs who were inserted into last week’s games were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Clausen, Bruce Gradkowski and Michael Vick. Who is the most talented QB of that group in September 2010? Do not overanalyze here; the answer is very clear. Changing players for the sake of change or in a fit of pique by a coach/owner rarely produces a major change in the vector of a team.
Lesson 2: Talent wins in the NFL more often than not. [Is there an echo here?] Take the four QBs listed above out of consideration for just a moment and look at the rest of the rosters of the four teams mentioned. If you were a new NFL owner and had the choice of taking over any of the four teams with the 52 players on their roster tomorrow, which team would you pick? If you answered anything other than the Eagles, you are probably not smart enough to tell that your ass is on fire even if you were standing in front of a three-way mirror.
Since I mentioned Michael Vick above, let me remind everyone here that I always thought that his dogfighting escapades were horrid acts and that he deserved at least the punishment he received for those actions if not more. I wrote before that his lying about his knowledge of the activities and his involvement in the activities made them all the worse. I am not now nor have I ever been a Michael Vick apologist.
Nevertheless, it is time to call “bullspit” on some of the activists who continue to use Michael Vick simply to get their name in the papers or to draw attention to their single-issue causes. Here is a quote from a member of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and the founder of something called DogPAC; I am not going to mention his name because I do not want him to have another Google hit.
“This is just another disappointing move of many that the Eagles have done since they signed him. The same hands that just three years ago were torturing and killing animals in the most brutal possible ways are now going to be given a starting job because he can throw a football.”
This gentleman needs to take a deep breath and think back to his civics classes in the 8th grade. The fundamental concept of American jurisprudence is that a person is innocent until proven guilty; and once proven guilty that person is subject to a variety of penalties prescribed by the law. THEN, when the person has undergone all of the penalties assigned to him by the court, that person is once again free to live his life. He is eligible to own property, to drive a car, to travel where he wants, to associate with whomever he wants – - and – - he can seek to hold gainful employment in a legal enterprise at the mutual choosing of his employer and himself. I believe that a convicted felon is even eligible to be elected to the Congress of the United States or to the Presidency – - but I will defer to any lawyers who read this on that point should I be mistaken.
Therefore, Michael Vick’s current employment status by the Philadelphia Eagles is part of the fundamental fabric of American justice. I might suggest to the gentleman who made the statement above that the same system of justice and the same set of rights that allows him to make whatever statements he wishes to make is the one that allows Michael Vick to hold the job that he now holds. That gentleman has every right to say what he wants on the matter. I have the same right to tell him to get over himself and stuff a sock in it. Michael Vick has the same right to compete for a job as an NFL quarterback and to hold that job if he is considered to be the best option for the team that signed him.
Some of the items I include here just write themselves. Here is something from this morning’s Washington Post.
“As coaches at Redskins Park began building a game plan for the Eagles, tight end Chris Cooley and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder traveled to Capitol Hill to announce an unprecedented initiative that brings together the team owners of all five DC-area pro sports teams. Partnering with Coca-Cola, the teams will work together to help combat childhood obesity.”
How long until McDonald’s, Burger King, a half-dozen companies that make candy and Taco Bell sign onto this partnership? If I “partnered” with a company that manufactures condoms to promote sexual abstinence and went to Capitol Hill to announce it, would that make any more sense to you?
Perhaps the idea of the post-game “news conference” by coaches/managers has run its course. Maybe there is not a need to have one of these things after every game in every major sport. Maybe the coaches/managers have run out of things to say; and in their quest for new material, they go off into a rhetorical wasteland. Consider Joe Girardi after a game last week speaking about the Yankees and their position in the AL East pennant race and the playoffs:
“Our destiny is in front of us.”
Thank you, Professor Girardi. It is difficult to imagine how one’s destiny can be behind one – - other than a Brokeback Mountain kind of situation.
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“The Seahawks released offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto on Tuesday.
“There went plans for a Wrotto Rooters fan club.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…