By Joseph Santoliquito
We live in a sports media today that craves and yearns to bash. Any chance arises, any little way to weasel in and rip, that’s okay to take aim and fire for any barefoot basement blogger, to legitimate media that actually know what they’re doing.
So Andy Reid changed course and called a reserve on his original decision to stick with Kevin Kolb and instead go with Michael Vick as his starting quarterback. It stirred cyberspace and every talking head it seemed from Point Barrow, Alaska to Miami, Florida and everywhere in between. Reid opened up the rip waves for the red-hot-poker-carrying media to jab.
But peel away Reid’s change of direction, if you will, and cut right down to it: Which quarterback presents the Eagles right now with the greatest chance to win? It’s without a doubt Vick. He’s completing passes at a 63-percent rate. The Eagles have scored 52 points in the six quarters he’s run the offense. He has the highest quarterback rating of his career (105.5) and his 7.9-yards/per completion is also a career-high.
The only people Reid has to answer to are his players and Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie—in that order. The NFL in many ways is the real world. It’s not high school, college or Little League, where “let’s give him [in this case Kolb] a chance” doesn’t work. It’s the tangible world of winning and losing—and how winning and losing affects how much food players have on their table.
There are no guaranteed contracts in the NFL. It’s the most violent, high-collision sport where star players drop all the time. Winning means stability. It means packed stadiums and commands attention from advertisers. Winning, in the Eagles’ case, also means keeping up with their successful cousins across the street—the Phillies.
And Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to continue winning—and hopefully building towards something this season that many gave them no chance to do before the season—go deep into the playoffs. That’s what Vick means to the Eagles, to Reid, to the fans that follow this team.
So good for Andy Reid’s about-face in going with Vick and correcting his “proper English.” It’s his prerogative to make the move he did. Sure, some aren’t going to like it. Some may never like the Eagles as long as Vick is the starting quarterback.
But in the harsh, cold reality of professional football, where winning and losing is everything, what some people think (fans and media alike) doesn’t matter. All that does matter is what Andy Reid thinks, like or not. And in this case, though his move contradicts almost everything the most successful coach in Eagles’ history has done in the past, it’s the correct move.
Vick will continue to be a lightning rod. The beauty of it is that Reid doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what you think, what I think, what the media pundits think. He as much said–without openly saying–he made a mistake in saying Kolb was his starter. So what. Reid changed his mind. He is not looking to score media or fan points. He knows his best chance to win in the NFL is with Michael Vick. Wait and see: If the Eagles go on to win their next six games with Vick, watch how the Vick-haters slowly dissolve and Reid’s change of heart gets praised.
Winning at any level will do that.