The Sports Daily > Eagles Eye Blog
Distraction factor of Mike Vick’s makeover…

It had to be addressed sooner or later, and with 2012 Training Camp just days away, might as well get it over with…

It’s about the elephant in the Eagles clubhouse, and it has little or nothing to do with the dogs.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick shows and discusses his new V7 apparel line at Modell’s Sporting Goods, Wednesday, July 11, 2012, in Philadelphia. The clothing line is called V7 and will be sold exclusively at East Coast sporting goods shop Modell’s. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Much like South Philly Ben, I’d been hoping for the Eagles to fly much lower under the radar through Training Camp this summer. Maybe I’m just superstitious. But now it looks like that’s not going to happen. The publicity machines of Modell’s Sporting Goods and Core Media Group won’t let it happen.

Core Media Group is releasing the hardcover version of Vick’s autobiography “Finally Free” on September 4th. Great timing…just days before the Eagles’ first regular season game. The promotional interviews and bookstore tours have already begun.

And the new “V7” fashion line promotions have already hit. Vick said developing a clothing line has not interfered with his preparation for his fourth season with the Eagles. Philadelphia opens training camp July 22 – the same date Vick will launch the fall line of his products.

I shouldn’t be so cynical, but it’s difficult for me to imagine all these various self-promotions and public appearance scheduling events jiving with the mental image of a Zen warrior preparing for greatness in battle—which is the image I want for Vick.

But to be fair— Vick has bills to pay. A lot of bills. He’s paying off debts to the government, the Atlanta Falcons, and the bank. People mistakenly think his debts were wiped clean by the mere act of going to federal prison. That is not the case.

Vick is still saying all the right things.

“Usually, I don’t want to go to camp,” Vick said. “But this year, I feel like, we’re going to have fun with it. We’re really going to enjoy it, make the most out of it, and I look forward to a big year.”

Again, I’d rather hear him saying we’re not going to have fun with camp this year, that it’s going to be a mission for victory based upon mutual pain and sacrifice… but that’s just my fan-based wishful thinking, trying to make cartoon heroes out of these very real people. As Sir Charles Barkley has reminded us over and over, pro athletes are not role models by definition.

When Vick signed with the Eagles before the 2009 season, it seemed to be nothing more than a brief stop before he moved on elsewhere to a starting job. But Donovan McNabb, and then Kevin Kolb, were traded, and Vick flourished to again become one of the elite QBs in the NFL – when healthy. He revived his career, rehabbed his image, and has no doubt Philadelphia was the town he needed to be in all along.

“I don’t think I could have landed in a better city,” he said. “It’s one of those situations where you ask God, ‘Why?’ in the beginning … but you see everything come around full circle three or four years later. You can’t see it right then and there. But I see it now.”

Vick said he’s now about associating with a “smart group of people,” and has long ago dissociated himself with the type of crowd that helped land him in prison.

The Vick apparel line mixes football and fashion and is the latest image-restoration move for Vick, who spent 18 months in federal prison after being convicted of bankrolling a dogfighting ring and was released in 2009. The line includes technical athletic clothing such as T-shirts, shorts and tank tops. Prices are $12.99 for children’s clothes and $19.99 for adult clothes. The line will be sold exclusively at Modell’s and was developed in a licensing partnership with celebrity clothing-line mogul Ruby Azrak and former ICM talent agent Brian Sher.

The book “Finally Free” won’t be released until September 4, but already some excerpts have made their way into cyberspace, with Vick confessing to being more consumed with dogfighting than football back in Atlanta.

“Back when I was involved in those activities, I may have become more dedicated to the deep study of dogs than I was to my Falcons playbook,” Vick wrote. “I became better at reading dogs than reading defenses.”

“That’s just so sad to say right now, because I put more time and effort into trying to master that pursuit than my own profession … which was my livelihood … which put food on the table for my family.”

Vick over the last few days has spoken at length in TV interviews about the book and his shockingly violent childhood. “You see all this violence and it becomes the norm,” Vick said in an appearance on CNN. “It made it seem like it was right because it was so consistent, night in and night out, day in and day out. You start to believe that there are no consequences behind it.”

Vick said the underground dogfighting culture was something he always believed was normal because nobody ever told him it wasn’t — until it was too late and he faced a two-year prison sentence and the disgraceful NFL exit that came with it.”

Welp, you can already sense the lightning rod for publicity and critical scrutiny that “Finally Free” is going to be for not only Vick but the Eagles organization. Although Vick certainly has the right to tell his story to a world-wide audience—and I agree it needs to be told—does he really have to tell it in 2012 ? Could we not have delayed the public eye for another season…or another half-decade…until the current football challenge is behind us?

I guess not. Like I said, there are bills to pay.