Before there was Cliff Lee, there was Michael Vick.
As shocking as the Phillies' blockbuster acquisition was, the Eagles' decision to sign Vick in August, 2009 was the ultimate jaw-dropper.
And in the end it proved to be prescient decision, one that has the Eagles in playoff contention and poised for greater ambitions. Vick has played so well that it seems almost inconceivable that the Eagles wouldn't bring back the quarterback, who is in the last year of the two-year contract he originally signed.
Vick spent Tuesday morning at Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School speaking out against dogfighting and his journey back to the NFL. Almost every answer the Eagles quarterback gave to a questioner drew an applause, but Vick drew the loudest response when a young student asked if he was going to be an Eagle next season.
"I would hope so. I would like to," Vick said as most of the Boys' Latin student body erupted into cheers. "A lot of things that have to happen. A lot of things have to take place. ... But hopefully I'm a Philadelphia Eagle next season."
Vick has said as much to Eagles beat reporters. But a lot still has to happen before he's inked in as the team's starting quarterback for next season. NFL labor unrest has put almost all contract negotiations on hold. The Eagles may be willing to extend Vick to a long-term deal, but more than likely they'll use their franchise tag to keep the quarterback in the fold for another season.
So it would appear likely that Vick is back with the Eagles next season, barring an unforeseen event.
"We don't even know if we're going to have a season next year," Vick said later in front of cameras. "So I'm just enjoying this season and taking it one game at a time, enjoying the locker room and enjoying the guys."
Vick spent most of his appearance lecturing the students on the wrongs of dogfighting and using his past mistakes as an example. At one point he asked the assembled students to raise their hands if they knew people that were involved in dogfighting. Almost every student raised his hand.
"Dogfighting is prominent all across the country and I know it goes on in a lot of different urban areas," Vick said. "A lot of kids have probably seen it happening before. Hopefully, they're not involved in it and hopefully they take away from what happened in my situation and avoid it at all costs."
The Eagles face the Giants in New York on Sunday in a game between NFC East co-leaders. A victory would give the Eagles a season sweep over the Giants and move them one step closer to clinching the division.
"Every game is a big game," Vick said. "You just have to go out and do what you do best and that's play the game and play with confidence and play the game to win. I think this week ... preparation is going to be key."
Vick was also asked to comment on the Phillies acquiring Lee. (Which begs the question: "Will the Phils be criticized for making the move now and trying to upstage the Eagles several days before their big showdown at the Meadowlands?")
"You got to look at it as a plus," Vick said of the Lee deal. "Any time you sign a guy to that type of money it shows your belief and your faith and your confidence in him. I think he's definitely going to bring a spark."
In other Eagles-related news, the Sunday night's game against the Cowboys that was aired on NBC was the most-watched "Sunday Night Football" broadcast ever. The game attracted 25.73 million viewers.