The relationship and eveolving dynamtic between Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick will be a topic of conversation throughout their time with the Eagles.
As McNabb pointed out during late night news conference after the preseason opener, McNabb and Vick have had a relationship since Vick was a high school senior in Virginia and McNabb was the Syracuse quarterback.
Kevin Rogers, then the Syracuse offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, had McNabb host Vick during the visit because they were similar players and schools often have players host recruits of the same position.
Of course, if you follow Syracuse football, you know that Vick chose Virginia Tech and took them to a Sugar Bowl instead of following in McNabb's footsteps, while the Syracuse program fell on hard times. The legend goes that Vick chose Tech because he wanted to forge his own identity and be the "first Michael Vick and not the second Donovan McNabb."
"He was, I hate to say it, sort of a clone, or really identical to myself and the way I played," McNabb said last night. "We just communicated through that and he told me he was a big fan of mine and watched me all through high school and just wanted to get an opportunity to accomplish some of the things that I did. And watching him at Virginia Tech and communicating with him as well as watching him at Atlanta we kept in contact. You want to see nothing but the best for everyone."
McNabb's support of Vick has continued since. In May, McNabb wrote about Vick on his yardbarker.com blog: "I am happy that Michael Vick has served his time and will now be afforded the opportunity to move on with his life. I'm sure he will continue to be remorseful and will learn from his experiences. Hopefully he will have the opportunity to continue his dream of playing professional football."
That opportunity, of course, has come with the Eagles and McNabb lobbied for Vick to be signed. He said the fact that he lobbied for Vick shuld allay any concerns about a potential quarterback controversy. He also was clear about the mentoring role he hopes to play in Vick's life.
"Nobody's perfect and that's including myself," McNabb said. "And you know I'm looking to just show him kind of how I prepare, show him me getting there 6:30 in the morning, working out in the morning, getting your body ready to go, get ready for meetings and then staying after until 6, 6:30 to watch film. Then let him know exactly what I do at home or to just kind of get away from football and get my mind focused on the next day and spending time with family. He's already spoken of [how] he's missed two important years of his daughter's life, her being born for two months and then had to go serve his time. So just kind of bringing our families together and just kind of bringing them into our households and just kind of humble and understanding what it is we do over there."
As for the potential backlash, McNabb said, "I think his guy should be rewarded with a second chance. And for all who are dog lovers, and I have dogs myself, I've looked past it and I think everyone else should as well."
Some other Vick reaction:
DeSean Jackson: "He is a great player. He has a lot to prove to everybody and try to get back on the right track. On the field, he is very explosive. We got some things on this offense now, man."
Leonard Weaver: "Man, I can't wait. I am excited. Vick, I am excited about you coming here. Boy, I can't wait to see you."
Sheldon Brown: "He can definitely make a lot of plays. You definitely have to game-plan for him as far as defensive linemen, having to get up the field and create pressure. He's one of those quarterbacks, similar to Donovan [McNabb]. The play doesn't have to be perfect for him to make something happen. That's what's so great about him. I'm just glad someone gave him an opportunity to reunite with the league and the union and be able to perform because he's a heck of an athlete. There is no 'how are you going to welcome him.' He's our teammate and we're 100% behind him. From day one, to be honest, we thought it wasn't fair."
Quintin Mikell: "He's a great player, a good person, and everybody deserves a second chance. Everybody has been talking about what happened but at the end of the day, he paid his debt. We're going to welcome him here and hope that he can put everything back together by putting the right people around him and love him up. He knows that we don't care about people's past and we're looking forward."
Joe Mays: "I know he doesn't want to be in that position again so I think he's going to be positive from here on out. That's what the Eagles see. I'm just looking forward to him coming in and contributing the best way he can."
In some other news from last night, the Eagles are now down to Eugene Bright and Rob Myers as healthy tight ends. Starter Brent Celek has a partial shoulder separation. Backup Matt Schobel has not practiced recently and did not play with a calf injury.
And the offensive line, already a bit patchwork without three starters, lost left tackle Jason Peters again. Peters, in his first game as an Eagle, restrained the quad muscle that kept him out of the start of training camp.
LeSean McCoy, playing in the NFL for the first time, had 55 yards on 10 carries.
"I was so nervous that the first four plays, I didn't have my mouthpiece in," he said. "It was still stuck in my helmet."
Joe Mays also made his debut as the starting middle linebacker in place of the injured Stewart Bradley.
"We played nickel, but for the most part I felt comfortable," he said. "Everything was good. It was nice to go out there and play ball, finally getting a chance to do that and hit some other people.