SBD/Issue 238/Franchises

Vick's Eagles Debut Draws Few Protesters, Mostly Fan Support

Vick's Debut Lacks Off-Field Opposition And
Protesters That Many Had Expected
The sum total of protesters outside Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night for Eagles QB Michael Vick's return to the field against the Jaguars "could have fit into two minivans," according to the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS' Rich Hofmann, who writes under the header, "Vick's Debut Falls Short Of All The Hype." For "fans of controversy," Vick's "re-entry into football society continues to disappoint." Vick received a "semistanding ovation when he entered the game on the Eagles' second offensive play," and if "anyone booed in what was then a stadium that was two-thirds full, I didn't hear him." Vick: "I can't explain the feeling. It was unbelievable, the way that I was embraced, just a warm welcome. ... I didn't think it was going to be that positive" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/28). In Philadelphia, David Gambacorta notes there was "little evidence on display of any opposition to Vick" outside the stadium, as "only two groups of people showed up to protest against Vick." There were "few animal-rights activists on hand," and "scores of Eagles fans ... seemed uninterested in the protests, or the media members who aimlessly paced the sidewalks for much of the evening" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/28). Also in Philadelphia, Joelle Farrell reports Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire and a "dozen or fewer supporters stood in front" of Lincoln Financial Field and took questions from reporters before the game. But there were "no signs or visible demonstrations" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28). 

FOOTBALL CROWD: The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Bob Ford writes the game drew a "football crowd" that came for "playmaking not politics, for spectacle not speeches." There were "perhaps a dozen pro-Vick enthusiasts marching around for the cameras, and maybe a half-dozen on the other side." The "pregame bluster was as predictable as it was perfunctory, and Eagles fans attending the game mostly ignored it." Ford: "In all, you have to mark it down as a successful day for Vick" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28). Eagles President Joe Banner before the game said, "We've had the opportunity to meet with the different animal rights groups and frankly, they've been very rational, very reasonable. They're not happy (about the Vick signing). ... But they understand that it's happened and there's an opportunity to try to do some positive things." Meanwhile, ESPN's John Barr noted there were "signs of support for Vick" at Lincoln Financial Field with fans wearing "plenty of fresh printed Vick jerseys" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/27).

Vick's Protesters Were Few And Far Between

MEDIA OUTNUMBER PROTESTERS: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes, "If you added up all the protesters on both sides of the argument, they were far outnumbered by the reporters who were present." An Eagles spokesperson said the media turnout more closely resembled a "heavy regular-season game." The team estimated that it "issued approximately 20[%] more credentials than it normally would for a preseason matchup." Gonzalez notes the initial "uproar over Vick here in town -- both pro and con -- was genuine and organic," but "not anymore." Vick is "nothing but a prop now, a puppet to be exploited by different organizations in order to advance their respective positions and predetermined agendas" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28).

BETTER THAN NOTHING: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote under the header, "Vick's Debut Not On National TV, But NFL Network Saves The Day." The Jaguars-Eagles game was not scheduled to be televised nationally, but NFL Net "showed all of Michael Vick's first-quarter plays ... via a live look-in," which was a "satisfying resolution to a problem that aggravated NFL viewers all day" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote there have been "some exhibition games this month that fans wanted to see, but they aren't available." Dougherty: "If NBC can 'flex' out of regular-season games on its 'Sunday Night Football' package, why not let the networks do it in preseason?" (TIMESUNION.com, 8/27).

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