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Eagles sign Vick, boycotts take shape

vickjersey2My most favorite football team is now my least favorite football team: The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a two-year contract.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed the disgraced quarterback — who just months ago completed his 18-month sentence for dogfighting — to a one-year deal with an option for a second year, ESPN reports.

“I think everybody deserves a second chance,” Vick said Friday, a day after signing the deal, according to the Associated Press. “We all have issues, we all deal with certain things and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you’re committed, then I think you deserve it. But you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that.”

Angry fans brought dogs and waited outside the team’s practice facility, carrying signs and banners to display their outrage.

“How could they sign Michael Vick?” said Mark Pascetta of Ridley Township. “They are supposed to be a character team. We don’t need him.”

Within hours of the announcement, Michael Vick Eagles jerseys were on sale — everywhere from the NFL’s website to that of CBS — and calls for a boycott of the Eagles were being mounted on Facebook and other websites.

Vicks will earn $1.6 million under the first year of the contract, with the second-year option worth $5.2 million. Vick can also earn an additional $3 million in incentives over the two years of the contract, ESPN reported.

The Eagles were reportedly not the first team to extend an offer to Vick. Fox Sports reported that the Cincinnati Bengals first offered Vick a two-year deal worth about $2.3 million.

Vick was the No. 1 draft pick in 2001 by the Atlanta Falcons and once the highest-paid player in football. But he has not played since 2006 when his career came tumbling down. He was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation, sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

But after serving his time and being released from home confinement July 20, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally lifted Vick’s suspension, allowing him to sign with a team.

Vick may participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.

“I’m a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He’s got great people on his side; there isn’t a finer person than Tony Dungy. He’s proven he’s on the right track.”

In a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday, Vick accepted blame for not stopping the illegal dogfighting operation he bankrolled.

Vick said he feels “some tremendous hurt behind what happened.”

He said he should have taken “the initiative to stop it all … I didn’t.”

Asked if he was more concerned about his playing career or the dogs he hurt, Vick replied, “Football don’t even matter.”

The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had this statement:

“PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water.”

 “You have to wonder what sort of message this sends to young fans who care about animals and don’t want them to be harmed,” said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon.

The announcement was met with outrage last night by members of Philadelphia’s animal-welfare community, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Some predicted it could cast a pall over a state in which animal advocates – led by Gov. Ed Rendell, who has three rescue dogs – have fought to improve conditions for dogs, particularly those who suffer in substandard commercial kennels.

“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,” said Tom Hickey of Drexel Hill, a member of the governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board. “For the Philadelphia Eagles, knowing the heinous crimes committed by this man, to sign him is unconscionable.”

“Michael Vick is coming to a city with some of the strongest and most outspoken animal advocates,” said Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Springs. “In a city where thousands of pit bulls are destroyed every year because we don’t have the resources to rehabilitate them, it’s shameful that we are willing to rehabilitate Michael Vick.”

Since his release, Vick has participated in two events — one in Atlanta and one in Chicago — with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he spoke to inner-city young people about the cruelty of dogfighting.

HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle issued this statement: “Michael Vick admits that what he did to dogs was cruel and barbaric, but now that he has served his time, he wants to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  He has pledged to make a long-term commitment to participate in our community-based outreach programs to steer inner-city youth away from dogfighting … Like so many other major American cities, Philadelphia has a serious dogfighting problem, and groups like the Pennsylvania SPCA have excellent programs to combat dogfighting locally. We have not had any discussions with the Philadelphia Eagles and the team did not consult animal welfare groups about its decision, but we look forward to working together to combat the dogfighting problem in Philadelphia and nationwide.”


Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time August 14, 2009 at 11:25 pm

This is the first day I can ever remember when I wouldn’t have been proud to claim Philadelphia as my hometown. I got over that pretty quickly. Philadelphia is a great, dog-friendly city, and this is an insult to everyone there who loves animals. I’m just not going to watch any more football. I don’t need it. I’ll take the dog for a walk instead.

Comment from Carole
Time August 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

Serving his time earns Vick a second chance at freedom, not at glory. I hope the Eagles rethink their decision. If not, I will be joining the boycott against them and their sponsors.

Comment from Rebecca
Time August 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I am so incredibly disgusted and sad that this has been brought to our city. I don’t believe that Vicks is remorseful and every step he has taken is only to improve his image. He still has not taken full responsibilty for his actions (“I didn’t step up”). At this point, I can only hope that he contributes a SUBSTANTIAL amount of his money (although it’s kind of like drug money, isn’t it?) to our local shelters.

Comment from Violet Kanda
Time August 19, 2009 at 11:40 am

In my opinion, people who defend Vick are all sick people and these people are reason why violence against animals continue.
Without these sick people, we can live much safer peaceful society.
Shame on you Eagles and all companies sponsoring Eagles!

Comment from Rhapsedy
Time September 14, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I’m really not a violent person but I think Michael Vick should be tortured in the same way that he tortured those poor defenseless animals! I just can’t believe that any team would sign him and that anyone would watch him play football!