Monday, August 17, 2009
A few days have passed since the Philadelphia Eagles shocking announcement that they had signed Michael Vick to a 2009 contract with an option for 2010. Because the news was unanticipated and sudden, there was no chance to formulate thoughts on the situation prior to the story breaking. My previous thoughts on Vick re-launching his career centered on which team might take the risk to sign him, but it had not even occurred to me that the Eagles might be considering signing him.
After reflecting on the matter, observing the groundswell of reaction, reading and listening to the widely ranging opinions and watching those most closely involved, my own thoughts have started to sort out. It is safe to say that those thoughts will continue to evolve as more data becomes available when conjecture starts turning into reality- good, bad or indifferent.
It is very obvious that this business transaction and this player evoke strong reactions that skew towards opposite ends of the spectrum as opposed to a typical bell curve. For me personally, after allowing a few pages on the calendar to turn, my current mindset is not about passing judgment on Vick, but rather centers on the business decision made by the Eagles. As an unabashed animal lover, it is sometimes hard to not fixate on some of the unsavory details of the past, but this business transaction will prove itself by what happens now and in the future.
From that perspective, it is truly difficult to understand what the Eagles were thinking and how this signing makes sense? Although "gut" instincts are often key components, successful business decision making is about evaluating the pros and cons, the risks and rewards, and the magnitude of the upside and downside. So, from a purely business decision quality standpoint, it is hard to imagine the pros, rewards and upside envisioned by the Eagles organization could possibly outweigh the cons, risks and downside.
There is no question that adding Vick to the team has already had and will continue to have a polarizing effect on the community, fan base, media, and most importantly, others in the Eagles locker room. This will undoubtedly cause distraction and likely challenge team unity. Additionally, NFL quarterbacks looking over their shoulder very rarely results in a positive outcome. This is especially true in Philadelphia, where fan and media opinion is very strong, and where Donovan McNabb performs best when the winds of sentiment are mostly at his back. It will only take a less than stellar game or two, or a couple losses, before the noise will crank up whether Vick should take over at the helm. And, this signing is very likely detrimental to the development of Kevin Kolb.
In exchange, the Eagles would seem to get a player to run 2-3 Wildcat formations or other gadget plays each game. It is conceivable that by some unfortunate circumstance such as an injury to McNabb, Vick would provide insurance; however, the team has indicated that Kolb is #2 on the depth chart.
I believe the world champion team across the street has it right in that they put a premium on their culture and team chemistry. The best case scenario for the Eagles would seem to be that team chemistry will not be affected, but all other scenarios head south from there.
All in all, when evaluating this transaction from a pure business decision basis, this seems to be very unbalanced and ill advised. This is especially true considering that the Eagles had an excellent off season, further strengthening a team that was one touchdown drive from going to the Super Bowl. They did not need to roll the dice, particularly with the odds against them and the downside risk so great. Lets hope that ultimately Michael Vick is a model citizen on the team and in the community, the fans and players rally around him, he makes positive contributions on the football field and the Eagles win the Super Bowl- but the percentages do not seem to be with us.