The Falcons host the Eagles in a Sunday game on Dec. 6, at the end of the regular season.“I am tickled to death,” said Dan Reeves, former Falcons coach and president who drafted Vick, after hearing the news. “It looked like it wasn’t going to happen for awhile there. I am glad someone took a chance on him.”
Eagles head coach Andy Reid, in a news conference Thursday night, said he expects Philadelphia fans will give Vick a chance to prove and redeem himself.
“This is America. ... We do make mistakes,” Reid said. “He (Vick) has a chance to prove he’s doing the right things.”
Reid cited Vick’s recent work with the Humane Socieity and speaking to youth groups about the ills of dogfighting.
“I think our fans will understand,” Reid said. “I also think that when you look indepth at this ... the changes he’s made in his life, you’ll see the positive in what he’s trying to do.”
The animal advocacy group PETA, though, remains skeptical.
“PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Philadelphia Eagles have chosen to sign a man who hanged dogs from trees, electrocuted them with jumper cables, held them underwater until they drowned in his swimming pool, and even threw his own family dogs into the fighting pit to be torn to shreds while he laughed,” said the group in a statement.
Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb said he was pleased Vick was joining the team and said he “pretty much lobbied to get him here. Everybody deserves a second chance.”
McNabb said he has known Vick since Vick was in high school and has been somewhat of a mentor to him.
The controversial signal caller has gone through a whirlwind of highs and lows since the Falcons drafted as the No. 1 pick in 2001.
He inked a $62 million deal as a rookie that included a $15 million signing bonus. After a year waiting in the wings, he took over the starting position in the 2002 season, and led the team to its first playoff berth since the 1998 NFC Championship season.
Sports watchers, at the time were calling Vick the most athletic player in the league, and comparing him to Gayle Sayers and O.J. Simpson in their heydays.
A broken ankle in 2003 shortened his season and stifled the team’s momentum. And head coach Dan Reeves paid the price, losing his job.
The following year Vick gained more ground yardage than any quarterback in league history, leading the Falcons’ to the NFC title game where they would lose to the Philadelphia Eagles. His performance for the 2004 season netted him a record $130 million contract.
But off-field drama seemed to plague the Falcons star as his performance on the field waned.
First there was the 2005 lawsuit from a woman claiming Vick knowingly gave her herpes, and that he went to test for the virus under the pseudonym “Ron Mexico.”
During a rough 2006 season, after a home loss to New Orleans, Vick lost his cool and flipped off fans he said were taunting him and teammates.
And in 2007, he was stopped by security officials in a Miami airport carrying a water bottle with a hidden compartment, and allegedly smelling of an illegal substance — an allegation later proven false.
And in 2008 Vick was indicted for financing an illegal dogfighting ring from a home he owned in Virginia, leading to prison time and suspension from the league.
Reeves said it is time for Vick to have the opportunity to get along with his life. He has served his time, Reeves said.
Reeves and Vick spoke a few weeks ago. Reeves said he advised Vick about the type of people he associates with.
“Donovan McNabb will be great for him,” he said. “He will be a great quarterback for Vick to associate with.”