The Afternoon After: Keeping Vick in perspective

A little later than usual due to Tuesday’s Drake concert, here’s my weekly football thoughts. Since I do picks now, I think a little later in the week is okay. As always, a reminder that I am genuinely far from a football expert, but I do enjoy the social constructs of the game.

Thrill ride 

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that winning in sports is the great cure-all, the ultimate social antidote. It really doesn’t matter what you do, it seems, provided you’re good at your sport. Michael Vick is the epitome of that notion.

For a guy universally panned after having done reprehensible things, he’s sure made a comeback as far as the opinion-shapers in the media are concerned.

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The afternoon after: Demise of Pennington sad, but not a shock

Again, some quick thoughts on the NFL. It’s not “the morning after” since I generally wake up after 1 p.m.

  • Never a good sign when they have to cut off your uniform... I’ve been a fan of Chad Pennington dating back to his Jets days. He’s gutsy, smart and tough. I think my arm is stronger than his, but his guile and heady play have always set him apart in my opinion. He validated that last year by finishing runner-up for the MVP Award while leading an overachieving Dolphins team to 11 wins, a stunning turnaround and a division title. Pennington blended seamlessly with the Wildcat offense and was a joy to watch. But the problem with Chad has always been his inability to make it through two seasons in a row. And sadly, he was unable to prove the skeptics wrong in that regard. Football’s a tough sport, and you can’t blame someone for having his shoulder shredded. But with Pennington paying greater attention to fitness at this stage of his career, it’s just a bad break. I’m not sure we’ll see him play again, and it’s a real shame: Pennington is a gentleman and a fine player. It’s just too bad that he lived up to his reputation, in a negative sense.

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Eagles become Vick-tims of their own impulse move

I’m not one of those types that thinks Michael Vick should have been barred for life from playing football. But that said, I can’t envision his joining the Eagles actually working out.

To get this out of the way, I don’t condone forcing animals to fight, much less killing them. I honestly think Vick is despicable. But the guy was Vick: Formerly the most electrifying player in the gamesentenced for his crime, he served his time and he’s out. If someone is willing to take him on, I have little problem with him joining a team, and that’s despite the fact that I doubt Vick has any contrition. If he didn’t think fighting dogs was wrong before he got caught, I’d say the only thing he’s sorry about is that he got caught.

But what is the best case scenario here? What is Vick going to do in Philadelphia to make it worth taking on the scrutiny of actually having him?

I can understand why Vick would think this is the best situation. You know the drill: strong management team, solid coach in Andy Reid, established quarterback – all of which takes pressure off Vick. In addition, he has one of the most stable men in the history of the NFL in Tony Dungy as a mentor to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I know what Vick gets out of this. But what do the Eagles get?

First off, they get an angry quarterback. Sure, Donovan McNabb said the right things about encouraging the Eagles to sign Vick. What is he supposed to say? Privately, he hates it. McNabb has an enormous ego and a ton of pride. He wants to be The Man.

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Weekend roundup: Money in the Bank, UFC’s Forest of Fear, Incubus

It was an eventful weekend for SportsAngle’s Esoteric and Epstein, who headed south down the GSP – not Georges St. Pierre, the Garden State Parkway – for a birthday celebration. (I won’t say how many years, but it’s rounder than I’d like) The highlight of the trip was a visit to Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night for the Phillies-Marlins game with Cole Hamels on the hill.

PHILADELPHIA – Though I’ve long heard its virtues extolled, I didn’t want to like Citizens Bank – mainly because I don’t like the Phillies – but at the end of my first trip to the park, I couldn’t help but admit that it’s a great place to take in a ballgame.

A big reason the park is such a success is that the atmosphere is fantastic. It makes an enormous difference that the Phillies won the World Series last year and look to be a strong contender again this year – fans gravitate to winners. The guest services booth told me the game was a sellout, as most games have been since May, and it creates a special environment when the seats are completely filled.

Mets fans probably won’t like to hear this, but though Citi Field was an attempt to mimic the vibe of Citizens Bank, the Mets’ lack of success and inability to develop stars have left them far behind their neighbors to the south. Even when Reyes, Delgado and Beltran are healthy, they simply don’t generate the trust that Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Ibanez do.

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Fantasy Football Fallout… Picks #41 – #45

Triple F is back again to dissect CBS Sportsline’s Top 50. For the most part, I don’t follow these fantasy football lists as gospel; I just use them as a resource. But for you, Mr. Joe Fantasy; you should read my words as the truth. To add to my annoyance, Sportsline keeps changing their top 50 order, so their rankings may be out-of-date. No worries tho, my analysis is spot-on.

Without any further adieu, here is my deconstruction of picks #45 through #41.

#45 – Chad Ochocinco
Let me get this out of the way… I like Chad Johnson. I don’t like Chad Ochocinco. Chad Johnson was an extremely promising wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. Chad Ochocinco is an undisciplined nutjob who also plays wide receiver for the Bengals. The 2008 Bengals were remarkable in their ineptitude (I can’t believe that Marvin Lewis Lights... camera... bizarre name changeis employed). Supposedly, Palmer is 100%; but what about the rest of the offense? The lead RB is Cedric Benson. The WR2 is Levaranues Coles (a step down from TJ). So what does that mean for #85? A make or break season. He posted six straight seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards, but his 2008 campaign was riddled with diva drama. He spent the offseason demanding a new contract or trade. He changed his name. He injured his ankle and shoulder. He badmouthed his teammates. He claimed that he wasn’t physically prepared for the season. Do you notice a pattern? Chad’s all talk. While I have no doubt he’ll surpass 1,000 receiving yards if he plays at least 13 games; I doubt his commitment to the game. Don’t reach for Chad. Let him fall to you

Conclusion: He needs to redeem himself. There’s upside, but don’t reach for it.

Receiving: 80 receptions. 1,200 receiving yards. 7 TDs.

*** BUY ***

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