The city of Philadelphia has been called many things throughout the years. It’s always been known as “the City of Brotherly Love” and for a short while it was called our nation’s capital.
Recently, some more auspicious names like “Filthy-delphia” and — even worse— “Kill-adelphia” have taken hold.
After this summer though, it seems Philadelphia is ready to take on a new moniker— “the City of Second (and Sometimes Multiple) Chances.”
Three of our four major sports teams have added players who are looking to turn their careers, and in one case, their lives around.
And it all started with my beloved Flyers.
After last season ended, the Flyers were left without a NHL goalie under contract and very little money to spend on one.
So they ventured to the NHL’s scrap pile, a.k.a Russia’s KHL and came back with former Ottawa Senators star Ray Emery.
A noted hothead and occasional cockroach eater, the Flyers took the chance on Emery because he came cheap and is very talented when his head is in the right place. After all, he did lead Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.
As with every baseball team, the World Series Champion Phillies are always on the lookout for more pitching. So it was no huge surprise when the Phils added a project of their own to their roster in the form of Pedro Martinez.
Martinez is a man of a few character flaws, but it was a multitude of injuries that threatened to end his career last year.
The Phils took a chance on the aging former All-Star and future Hall of Famer and signed him to a one year deal loaded with incentives, meaning that the better Pedro pitches, the more money he will receive.
Not to be outdone, the Eagles dropped a bombshell on not only the city, but the entire sports world by signing convicted felon Michael Vick, who spent the previous two years in prison for dog fighting and gambling.
The Eagles are now the center of the sports universe and will be for the foreseeable future for all the wrong reasons.
There has been a tremendous amount of sanctimonious preaching coming from the Eagles front office and Tony Dungy, Vick’s advisor and spirit guide about second chances and this being the beauty of life in America. That’s all well and good, but it’s also a crock.
Bottom line, this is a football move. If the Eagles didn’t think Vick would make them better, they wouldn’t have signed him. This isn’t a move about second chances, it’s about football. A man of less talent wouldn’t be in Vick’s place right now.
Please don’t confuse the Eagles’ desperation with compassion.
And this is a move of desperation.
Head coach Andy Reid has seen plenty of veteran players come and go, including cornerstones like Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas.
He knows that Donovan McNabb’s running out of time. All careers— good and bad— must end somewhere. Sure, McNabb may have bought himself a few more years with last season’s playoff run, but nothing lasts forever.
McNabb and Reid have been tied together from the start, McNabb as the hot shot young quarterback and Reid as the hot shot young head coach.
So when McNabb goes, Reid will most likely follow not far behind.
Signing Vick is Reid’s last stab at winning that elusive Super Bowl trophy. His last chance to secure a legacy for himself and McNabb that adds up to more then just “coulda been” and “almost was.”
The problem is that, how much is that title worth?
Is it worth bringing in Vick for a “second chance” that is actually closer to a fifth chance?
See, that’s one thing that everyone forgets when they talk about Vick.
The drug busts, the history of surrounding himself with losers, the sordid personal life and the pseudonym “Ron Mexico.”
Vick is a career loser, not a first time offender. The dog fighting was merely the grotesque breaking point, the culmination of a sad story about wasted potential.
The best part of all this is that, from a football perspective, this move makes even less sense then it does from a P.R. perspective.
The Eagles are a pass first, second and third team and Vick has only proven completely effective on the ground. Plus they already HAVE a quarterback in McNabb and a young backup in recently drafted Kevin Kolb.
So just how this move will end up being worth the trouble is BEYOND me.
If Vick brings them the trophy that they covet so much, I’ll say more power to them. I’ll be watching but I don’t think I’ll be cheering. Not like I did for last year’s Phils anyway.
It was easy to root for them. They were a collection of good guys and overachievers. They worked their butts off to get that title.
Reid and company? Well, they got in bed with a man of indescribably poor character to try and get theirs.
At the end of the day, there is a canyon-sized gap between being a jerk and being a criminal and there is a tremendous difference between Pedro Martinez, Ray Emery and Michael Vick.
Two of them are getting second chances, while the other is up to his eyebrows in them.