Saying the Bears and Eagles play a huge game at Soldier Field on Sunday would be like saying Jimi Hendrix is sorta good at playing guitar. The contest has playoff implications galore and certainly is expected to provide plenty of drama. Lovie Smith entered the 2010 campaign on the hot seat. Many thought it wasn’t a question of if he’d be fired, but when. Now the likeable leader from Big Sandy, Texas is a victory away from silencing even his harshest critics. A win over red hot Philadelphia would give Chicago the inside track to a playoff berth and a super shot at a bye week.
On the flip side, a Bears setback on Sunday could be disastrous. There’d be no shame in losing to the high flying Eagles, but the Bears schedule the rest of the way is not kind. With New England and the Jets still on the docket, plus three divisional tilts, all on the road, Chicago must stockpile wins whenever they can. They’ve done a great job at that so far. The Eagles, however are sure to be their toughest test.
The Philadelphia resurgence has been led by Mike Vick. The quarterback has been sensational, running and throwing for scores at every turn. He hasn’t turned the ball over yet via interception and his performance against Washington a few Mondays ago was one of the greatest games ever played by an NFL signal caller. Vick’s crazy good game was nationally televised, feeding the buzz about his accomplishments and fueling the talk about his MVP candidacy. The Eagles seem to be Super Bowl contenders, a big deal for a franchise that hasn’t won it all since 1960.
What people aren’t talking about, at least not in NFL circles, is the reason why Vick had to make a comeback at all. Vick’s long-term participation and front line role in a gruesome dog fighting operation has been absolved by most sports fans and by seemingly every NFL player, coach, broadcaster, mascot, vendor, and parking attendant. He has not been forgiven by me. Quite the contrary.
Vick didn’t plunk a few bucks down and watch a couple of Pit Bulls wrestle. He personally murdered multiple animals. He hanged dogs, drowned dogs, electrocuted dogs. On at least one occasion when he electrocuted a dog, he wet the canine down first, just to make sure the dog was zapped with plenty of power. Vick and his crew removed the teeth from female dogs with pliers to prevent them from snapping at male dogs who were forced to impregnate them again and again on the so-called ‘rape machine’.
According to legal documents Vick also slammed one dog’s skull into the ground until the victim took one last breath. People don’t talk about that anymore. They’re too busy talking about dazzling touchdowns and lopsided scores in favor of the club Vick pilots. They don’t talk about the dogs who survived Vick’s dog ring that continue to shake on a daily basis and live in fear. They’re too busy talking about the shake and bake moves Vick is displaying while dodging tacklers and the fear the Philadelphia offense is putting into opposing defenders.
The NFL is a union shop. Players have always stood by one another. Drug charges, assault accusations, and suspensions of any kind are always appealed with much solidarity. The NFLPA is up there with teachers unions when it comes to power. So, it’s not that much of a surprise that the players throughout this league have been very pro-Vick since day one. The robust, hearty, vocal nature of the support is what’s off-putting. You want to use the tired line that Vick ‘paid his debt to society and now deserves a second chance’? That’s fine. It’s the onslaught of celebration that makes many people, albeit very quietly, cringe. Some players don’t say anything on the subject. Jason Taylor made a vague reference to his distaste for what Vick did through an ASPCA ad. Other than that it’s been all pro-Vick, all the time.
Democrats love him. Republicans love him. Blacks, whites, men, women, fat, skinny, short, tall. Pro-Vick. LeBron James recently tweeted ’Michael Vick for President’. Jordan loves him. Ditka thinks he’s good for the game. Wow.
The verbiage is probably the most troublesome part of all of this. You’ve heard it all by now. You know, the ‘mistake’ he made. A mistake is when you leave the milk out overnight. Not when you purposely kill a bait dog and laugh.
I’m also amazed at this golly gee willikers attitude over how well he’s doing on the field after he murdered so many dogs. Why does one have anything to do with the other? If a world class juggler raped children and then got out of prison, he’d still be able to juggle. If a master painter embezzled millions of dollars, then served his time in the clink, he’d still be able to produce art after he was freed. I’m sure Martha Stewart’s penchant for folding napkins into birds didn’t suffer any blow after her time away. Vick played football at a high level before he murdered animals and went to prison. Of course he can still play.
Nowadays people don’t even talk about what Vick did. Those of us who beat the drum are now the pariahs in sports circles. Back when those on board the Vick love train did still engage us, their arguments were flawed at best. They’d say convoluted things like Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little killed people, Vick just killed dogs. I say, while Stallworth and Little should both be locked up for life, neither intentionally got in their cars and sought to run someone down. They did claim lives because they were stupid enough to drive drunk. They did not however have malicious intent. Vick purposely killed dogs for years. We were told that Ray Lewis and Kobe Bryant are much worse than Vick. Last time I checked, neither of those athletes were proven guilty of the crimes that were alleged. They talked about Ben Roethlisberger and his disgusting display against a woman in a well guarded bathroom. They’re right that Roethlisberger’s actions are as low as one can go. They’re wrong to think Vick isn’t right there with him.
The real brainiacs would say things like ‘dog fighting is a southern tradition’, a ‘cultural thing’. You know what else happened a lot down south, and regrettably still does to this day? Cross burning. Klan meetings. Just because it’s happened for years somewhere doesn’t make it OK. It doesn’t make the person responsible for it free of blame because of his surroundings. Personal responsibility must be considered. Vick displayed none.
Andy Reid continues to be the biggest, literally and figuratively, cheerleader for Vick. Referring to his quarterback as “kid” and “tough cookie”. Cute names masking the real man. Fans and reporters have thrown Donovan McNabb under the bus, saying Vick is already a better leader than McNabb etc. etc., even though the team appeared in championship game after championship game with #5 in charge. They praise Vick, yet vilify athletes like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Milton Bradley, and Roger Clemens, even though they’ve never hurt anyone. The frustrating part about all of this is they all love Vick too. Everyone seems to.
Mike Vick did indeed serve his time to society and has every right to go back to work. I agree wholeheartedly. There’s nothing more American than that. That doesn’t mean the Eagles had to hire him, that doesn’t mean people have to root for him, and it certainly doesn’t mean that he should be celebrated as if he beat cancer or overcame a family tragedy. That’s what it seems like though. The way Vick is portrayed, he is the comeback kid. He got through his problems to succeed on the athletic field. Those problems however were self-inflicted and dogs were brutally killed. Darryl Strawberry and Josh Hamilton overcame substance abuse. While their addictions surely caused distress to friends and family members, no one was intentionally hurt. They really hurt themselves. Their efforts toward redemption are noble. Lance Armstrong beat cancer. Sam Mills gave it his all to try to do the same. Noble. Vick murdered dogs and got caught. He now speaks to kids about dog fighting because he has to or else. He now on the surface stays out of public trouble (except for that little party shooting a few months back) because he has to. Noble? Not so much. Just a guy who got caught and now doesn’t want to be booted out of the NFL and booted back into jail.
On Philadelphia sports radio this week the hosts and a reporter were talking Eagles and of course it turned into an I Love Mike Vick rally. The reporter waxed poetic about how Vick has a sign in his locker that reads Walk the Talk. The host responded in kind saying something along the lines of ‘Wow, that really shows what a leader he is’. WHEN DID I MOVE TO ANOTHER PLANET??? So, let me get this straight. Murder dogs for years. Finally get caught. Then and only then speak about your ‘mistake’ to classrooms, hang up a cute little sign, and be lauded by Fantasy Football geeks everywhere as the greatest quarterback ever, on and off the field. Weird. Sad.
I know there are plenty of people who loathe what Vick did. They are not buying this ‘football success equals crimes aren’t as bad anymore’ formula. The problem is, most of the football world is removed from this because a lot of the cerebral folks with minds, hearts, and souls are not into sports and they already knew that who wins the Bears-Eagles game on Sunday isn’t a matter of life and death. The sports minded among us who speak out against Vick also miss the point. The few who bother to say anything talk about how Vick ‘threw away his career’ and ‘lost money’ and ‘screwed up’. Not that he bashed the skulls of innocent dogs.
During that same Vick kissy kiss radio fest, the hosts did a segment about who they’d like to thrown in the Spectrum, the old home of the Flyers and 76ers before it’s demolished. They mentioned Andre Iguodala, Justin Bieber, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and everyone who votes for Dancing With The Stars. Then they came up with this gem. They said anyone who wants to argue about Vick and his dogfighting past should be thrown into this fantasy death sentence as well. They said they were sick and tired of hearing about it. Vick did his time. It’s over. No it’s not.
Imagine if civil rights leaders didn’t say a word when blacks were told they had to drink out of separate fountains and ride only in the backs of buses. What if women kept quiet when they were told they couldn’t vote? Those of us who care about animals and a civilized society as a whole will not give it a rest. We will continue to talk about the gory details of what this man purposely did to innocent dogs for no reason. It’s easy to forget when you sweep things under the rug. Don’t fall to the peer pressure or the ‘they’re just dogs’ mentality. You know it’s wrong. Speak out. He can play. Great. So what? Touchdowns don’t erase sick, sociopathic behavior. He’s back in the league and when his stats warrant it, he should be treated fairly in the press. The sooner this over the top positive attitude toward him stops, however, the better. We’ve had pro athletes come back from true tragedy. Murdered family members, battles with leukemia. Paul Pierce was stabbed over and over again, only to persevere and return to win a world title. We don’t talk about any of that however. After all they aren’t dog killers.
On the field the Bears have done relatively well against Vick in the past, posting a 3-0 mark against his Falcons and containing the scrambler to a point. They’ll certainly need to keep Vick in check once again to win on Sunday, but my concern is actually on the other side of the ball. While, the Bears should be able to hold the Eagles to under 20 points, the real question is can the Chicago offense find the end zone against the very capable Philly defense?
The talk is all about Vick but this game is a biggie for the other starting quarterback as well. Jay Cutler has a chance to show Bears fans that he can come though on the grandest of stages. This is really his first opportunity to do so since coming to the Windy City.
Look for this one to come down to field position and turnovers. If Devin Hester can give the Bears good starting points, if Cutler protects the ball, and if Robbie is as good as Gould, Lovie’s crew could be 8-3 and well on their way. If the Bears are sloppy though, expect an opportunistic Eagles squad to capitalize and steal one on the road.
Many thought the NFC was weak this season, but now it appears that multiple teams with winning records when all is said and done will be outside the playoff picture looking in. The West has lived up to the less than stellar predictions, so since someone has to come out of that division that means of the Eagles, Giants, Bears, Packers, Bucs, Saints, and Atlanta…two will not be in the postseason. This only drives home how huge a victory would be on Sunday.
The Bulls circus trip has been better than usual with some impressive wins along the way. Things could’ve been even sweeter if not for a Carmelo Anthony buzzer beater that gored Chicago in Denver Friday night. Derrick Rose didn’t play in that one due to a stiff neck. C.J. Watson filled in and then some, scoring over 30 in the loss.
King sized coincidence. Saturday night the Bulls were at Sacramento while the Blackhawks skated at Los Angeles, meaning both the Bulls and Hawks played the Kings.
Blue Turkeys. After an opening win over Chicago State, DePaul has struggled mightily. The Blue Demons have lost three straight now including a Thanksgiving heartbreaker to Oklahoma State and a drubbing at the hands of Cal State Northridge in Anaheim.
Enjoy the football game. I’ll be in the Spectrum if anyone needs me.
About the Author
Written by Kevin Scholla
Kevin Scholla is an American news and sports anchor/writer for CBS Radio. He has been a professional journalist for more than a decade. Scholla's other current projects include: Anchor/Host- LBL Radio. Announcer- Trenton Thunder Baseball (New York Yankees AA), Holy Family University Men's & Women's Basketball, Lincoln University Football. Host-"Delaware County's Most Wanted TV Show" on Comcast. TV/Radio Panelist-Fox News Channel, TCN, TBN, WBCB. Scholla's past projects include: Public Address Announcer- Villanova Men's Basketball, Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse, Penn Baseball, Sotball, Lacrosse, Sussex Skyhawks Professional Baseball Club, New York Majesty and Philadelphia Passion of the Lingerie Football League. Writer/Host- LBL 360 Radio. Play by Play-Centenary College Basketball, William Paterson University Football. Radio Analyst-Delaware State University Football. Press Secretary-Gubernatorial Race. Reporter/Anchor-Millennium Radio. News Director-Clear Channel. Reporter/Anchor-ABC Radio. Scholla interned at WFAN in New York City working alongside Don Imus and Chris Russo. Scholla's career highlights include reporting live from the NCAA Basketball Final Four, serving as courthouse reporter at the Jayson Williams trial, and interviewing three U.S. presidents and two U.S. vice presidents. Scholla was the only radio or television reporter to interview former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey on his first day out of office. On January 28, 2009, Scholla was the public address announcer for the Villanova vs. Pittsburgh game at the Wachovia Spectrum. It would be the final college basketball game ever played at the historic arena. Scholla wrote, produced, and acted in a public service announcement that was named the American Cancer Society Award Winner. Scholla has also compiled quite a resume outside of journalism. He coaches youth softball and baseball. He is a committee chairman for the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association. Scholla also works as a booster and consultant for DePaul University, the Montgomery Biscuits, the Tri-City Dust Devils, and the Helena Brewers. Scholla has been recognized for his volunteer work with various charities including VFW, ASPCA and the Philadelphia Zoo. Along with Shannon Elizabeth, Scholla supports Animal Avengers, a California-based pet rescue group. Scholla has worked for numerous political campaigns and twice won the nomination for township committee in Springfield Township, Union County, New Jersey. Scholla is a fan of the Bears, Bulls, White Sox, Blackhawks, and DePaul Basketball. Outside of Chicago, he also roots for the Mets and University of Florida Football.