Vicktory for the Eagles

Michael Vick has climbed the mountain, yet again. The NFL’s most ironic underdog is back at the top.

Yesterday, Michael Vick signed his second $100 million contract of his career. This time, it’s a flat $100 million with around 40 of it guaranteed. For someone who not only fell off the peak mountain but fell off of it and landed on his head, this is incredible.

Even though signing Michael Vick to a long-term deal is as risky as a rich white man taking a walk in Compton, this is a contract that is absolutely necessary for the Philadelphia Eagles organization.

On this blog I like to hate on the big bad contracts. I do it because they have such a high likelihood of blowing down the foundation of a franchise. Big bad contracts tend to carry a lot of risk. Big bad contracts can unnecessarily tie up salary that could be better utilized elsewhere.

However, this time, the Eagles had to pay Vick.

The Eagles had to do this after they handed the franchise over to the Underdog when they traded away Kevin Kolb. Look at it this way, Kolb is getting $20 million guaranteed and he has hardly done a thing.

At 31, Michael Vick has proven that he is an elite NFL quarterback.

You can’t always go with the safe bet. Low risk and high reward cannot always be the strategy. Elite NFL quarterbacks don’t come along very often. The Eagles are loading up on talent for the next half decade but without a leader the team would have been driving down the highway with the brakes on.

Now, it’s full steam ahead.

$100 million sounds like a lot for a 31-year-old, oft injured quarterback. In fact, $100 million is a lot for a 31-year-old, oft injured quarterback. Nevertheless, this oft injured quarterback is too special. In Philadelphia, he has received the love as a modern-day Rocky Balboa all while wearing his very own Superman cape.

In 12 games last season he threw for over 3000 yards, had a passer rating of 100.6 and rushed for 56.3 yards a game. If you’re the Eagles, there was no way that you were going to let something that special slip through your fingers.

The Eagles are praying to God each and every night that Michael Vick stays healthy. And at 31, there’s no reason to believe he will be slowing down anytime soon if he stays healthy.

Although they drastically contrast in styles, Peyton Manning is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league at age 36. Kurt Warner led his team to a Super Bowl appearance in his late 30’s. And it doesn’t seem that long but Tom Brady has reached the age of 34.

The Eagles pushed most of their chips in when they made their big splashes this off-season. There was no other choice than to go all-in with Michael Vick. They were pot committed.

This isn’t the case of a diva in disguise wide receiver who wanted nothing more than to have his ego fed. Michael Vick deserves the money he is getting. As the only man who can lead his team to the Promised Land, Michael Vick has earned his keep.

Related: Larry Fitzgerald is Only a Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald might have earned his keep but he sure didn’t do what is best for his team. Michael Vick has kept more than his own interests in mind since joining the Eagles. He did everything that he was asked to and, as player who plays the most important position in the game of football, he is getting rewarded for it.

Try and justify Larry Fitzgerald getting $10 million more in guaranteed money than the game’s most electrifying quarterback. You can’t do it.

Vick’s contract seems like a bargain when you compare it with Fitzgerald’s. But bargain or not, this was a deal that had to be done.

It was a no-brainer to the Philadelphia Eagles that signing Michael Vick straight out of the slammer was the right decision. It was also a no brainer for the Philadelphia Eagles to make Michael Vick a $100 million man, once again.

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What to Make of Mr. Tebow’s Wild Ride?

The mounting evidence surrounding Tim Tebow is overwhelming. If it makes us feel better we can choose to ignore it or we can take it for what it should be worth.

We could choose to listen to the Adam Schefter approach. The cop-out, good ol’ wait and see approach. Schefter said in a radio interview that “Let’s just wait and see before we start ripping Tim Tebow and declaring him to be a failure — the guy at least deserves the chance to prove himself over time. I’m not ready to declare a quarterback a success or failure after just two weeks of the preseason.”

But choosing to listen to guys like Adam Schefter would be discounting the excessive information constantly being thrown at us about God’s gift to football.

Tim Tebow is not ready to be top-tier NFL quarterback and he probably never will be.

It isn’t just the two weeks of the preseason.

I’m not jumping on this because hating on Tim Tebow has become the new black as Yahoo Sports pronounced yesterday. In fact, I believed not too long ago that Tim Tebow deserved a chance to start for the Denver Broncos. I still have no faith in Kyle Orton.

However, it was reported by “a highly knowledgeable member of the [Denver] organization told Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports that “If everything was totally equal, and this were a competition based only on performance at this camp, Tebow would probably be the fourth-string guy. Kyle [Orton] is far and away the best, and Tebow’s way behind [Brady] Quinn too. And I’m telling you, Adam Weber is flat-out better right now.”

John Fox refuted that claim but the idea behind it is concerning for Tim Tebow to say the least. It has taken just a few short weeks for Tebow’s status within his team’s new regime to sink faster than a human body thrown into the Hudson River.

The new regime in Denver, headlined by John’s Elway and Fox, may not have drafted Tebow but, contrary to what some are saying, they came in open-minded to the Tebow experiment.

Elway said before the 2010 season that “I don’t think Tim Tebow is a good quarterback at this level at this time.” Sure, he wasn’t a fan like Josh McDaniels was, but the Denver head brass was ready to hand Tebow the reigns to the Broncos a couple of weeks ago. They sure weren’t digging Orton back then.

If the Miami Dolphins had agreed to pony up a 3rd round pick for Kyle Orton than this not so fairy tale story for Tim Tebow would certainly have been different.

It hasn’t taken very long for the folks in the Bronco organization to change their mind. Kyle Orton has been schooling Tim Tebow in practice. Brady Quinn, the man of the 66.8 career QB rating, now occupies the back-up spot. And undrafted free agent Adam Weber could be more ready than Tim Tebow at this point in time.

Tebow didn’t start at the back-end of the depth chart. He has played his way there. We all have our opinions about Tebow but the bottom line is that the people who watch him day in and day out are telling us that he isn’t good enough.

If you can’t make reads quickly, you can’t play quarterback in the NFL. Apparently, Tim Tebow is having more trouble figuring out what’s going on than a blind man at the movie theatre.

If he’s still having trouble making reads then you really start to wonder about his intelligence. Unlike a Sam Bradford, he doesn’t come across as the brightest fellow in his interviews. Although this is purely speculative, you have to question if Tebow is intelligent enough to fully grasp every minute nuance of an NFL playbook.

It may not be the most telling of intelligence tests but Tim Tebow scored an unimpressive 22 on his prior to being drafted. Just something to think about.

His 3 games at the end of the 2010 season, run purely on instinct and intensity, aren’t reason enough to give him a shot. He’s going to have to prove to the Broncos that he can make all the throws and reads. He can only do that in the one place that Allen Iverson has become famous for – practice.

There isn’t a non-football grounds on which you can explain the rapid fall of Tim Tebow. It isn’t his evangelical ways, the media attention or that the Broncos organization has it in for him. I think it’s got to be pretty hard for you to sit there on your laptop and tell me that you know more than John Fox. Not to say that coaches aren’t wrong sometimes but you don’t become a successful coach of 22 years and head coach of the past 9 years without knowing a little something about the game.

You can listen to whoever you want about the Tim Tebow gong show but it seems to me that we should be listening to those who care and have the most invested in him – the Denver Broncos.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Larry Fitzgerald is Only a Wide Receiver

Chris Johnson is probably still a little jealous right about now. While he sits at home, Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying his first day with a brand spanking new 8 year, $120 million contract. With this new deal, the Arizona Cardinals have told Larry Fitzgerald that he is not only one of the best receivers in football but one of the very best that the game has to offer.

This is stupid.

It’s not stupid to say that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football nor is it stupid to say that he is one of the very best that the game has to offer.

However, it is stupid to give a receiver (a rumoured) $50 million in guaranteed money. It looks like Homer Simpson is back to controlling professional sports franchises again. At least, I would hope so.

The Arizona Cardinals ownership seems determined to relive the winning magic that they experienced not too long ago. Maybe some Cardinals fans can take comfort in the fact that ownership was willing to overpay for the two cornerstone pieces of the franchises in Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald.

Not me. Luckily, I’m not a Cardinals fan.

It’s going to take a lot to justify giving a wide receiver, of all positions, $50 million in guaranteed money. To the best of my knowledge, this isn’t Madden football and the Cardinals do not possess the power to simply turn the salary cap mode off. This isn’t Major League Baseball. In a desperate attempt to prove that they care, the Bidwell family is potentially hampering their organization for years to come.

$120 million for a player who touches the ball 10 times on a good day is a troublesome thought. The Cardinals already overpaid when they addressed the most important position in football. For the most part, I’m fine with that. In all likelihood, John Skelton isn’t your guy.

A wide receiver can only do so much though. Yes, a great receiver can be a game-breaker but in no way will he ever be a $120 million game-breaker.

An inability to manoeuvre with any sort of flexibility under the cap is always an issue with these contracts but with a franchise quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning that kind of money is certainly justifiable.

Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady took pay cuts to ensure that they gave their team some financial flexibility.

Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t willing to take a pay cut and his team is going to suffer for it. He may not act like a diva but his ego is obviously similar to a diva. Personally, I think it’s selfish to sign a contract of that magnitude but that’s a story for another day.

Related: Who is Peyton Manning?

No one forced the Arizona Cardinals to pay Fitzgerald that much. Either way, they should have backed out instead. His contract could have been someone else’s problem next year. That money should have been spent better.

A great receiver can push a good team over the edge. A great receiver cannot make a bad team a good team. What do we think of Steve Smith’s $10.9 million per year contract with the Carolina Panthers?

Heck, that’s nothing.

Sure, Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise but that shouldn’t get in the way of running a business. Not to this degree. The last thing any organization needs is tying up a ridiculous amount of money in a person that doesn’t take every snap.

Alone, Larry Fitzgerald cannot turn his Arizona Cardinals into a winner. I mean, he is only a wide receiver.

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A Dying Breed

Jim Thome is, as of right now, the last great of a dying breed.

If you’re sitting in front of your computer guessing, it isn’t the exclusive 600 home run club that Albert Pujols will be a part of in no time.

Thome is the last great of a breed that used to be restricted to a special few until science got involved. Thome was blessed with this God-given gift until science got involved.

Jim Thome is the last great of the true home run hitters breed. He is the last great of a group who hit the ball that the chicks dig. When you think of the Jim Thome’s of the world there is no initial thought that crosses your mind other than ‘home run.’

Albert Pujols hits home runs but he is Mr. Consistency. The man without a hole in his swing. A player who hovers around the 200 hit plateau each and every season. When you think Albert Pujols, you might think greatest player in baseball.

Adam Dunn is the birth defect version of Jim Thome. The big lug who swings for the stars and hits bombs as high as the stars. The strikeouts are forgotten when these big men connect because they are what make baseball so special.

As the steroid era dies so does this extraordinary breed of home run hitters. Jim Thome would have been more appreciated if not for the massive influx of hitters who could hit the ball into McCovey Cove. To the best of our knowledge, Jim Thome was all-natural in his home run hitting.

If you take a look at the home run leaders for the 2011 season you won’t find anyone as great as Jim Thome in terms of his breed.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard. When all is said and done, these guys won’t measure up to what Jim Thome has done in his career. Prince Fielder won’t hit 25 home runs in limited at bats at the age of 39. Ryan Howard is going to be 32 years old in November and hasn’t even reached 300 home runs. They were bred like Jim Thome but will never duplicate what he has done.

Jim Thome’s don’t come along every decade. Major League Baseball only has 5 true players who have hit over 600 home runs in over 130 years of baseball.

Jim Thome’s consistent and realistic decline as a player is the indisputable sign of a pure bred home run hitter. In a 12 year span from 1996-2008 Jim Thome only reached 50 home runs in a season once but he was never below the 30 big fly mark.

In the coming years we will come to appreciate Jim Thome for the player he was. The rarer the flower the sweeter it is will be a phrase that will go hand in hand with his legacy.

The home run hitter’s breed will never die but there is no doubt that it has once again become endangered.

Major League Baseball won’t go without another great home run hitter in the future but with steroid’s being a thing of the past the odds are that it might be a little while before we see another as good as Jim Thome.

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Adam Scott Deserves More Credit

Adam Scott has shown resilience that some of the best athletes in the world could be learning from. Lebron James, here’s looking at you.

He isn’t getting enough credit for it.

Caught in a teenage love triangle straight out of Dawson’s Creek, Adam Scott blew the field away last weekend as he won the Bridgestone Invitational by 4 strokes.

Adam Scott has found himself in the middle of a messy break up. Tiger Woods thought his caddy cheated on him but Steve Williams doesn’t understand. He thought they were on a break. In a previous relationship where it is now obvious that neither partner is emotionally stable, Scott has remained even keel. It’s not often that a player, who is performing at such a high level, is overshadowed by a relationship between a caddy and his ex.

If TV dramas have taught us anything, it’s hard enough keeping your cool in the midst of a complicated love triangle. Imagine trying to professional golf on top of that.

Adam Scott, a career underachiever, has had enough trouble throughout his time on the tour dealing with the expectations placed on him. Typically, another Tiger Woods era “next one” has not lived up to the hype. You would have never guessed that from the way he has played his last 6 rounds.

Playing with the burden of a big-headed caddy, whose dreams of revenge on his ex-partner were placed squarely on his shoulders, Adam Scott has stepped up his game in a manner expected from only the greatest athletes in the world.

For a player who had only had 7 career PGA tour wins prior to last week’s victory at Bridgestone, it was unbelievable to see him come up with a win at a tournament where his caddy must have brought some lofty expectations along with him.

Scott was and is still playing for two people. That can’t be easy.

In a sport where choking is as common as the cold, Adam Scott has handled the intense pressure and media scrutiny like a young Tiger Woods.

As I sit here and write this, Adam Scott is tied for 3rd place at the 2011 PGA championship. He sits at 4 under par through 11 holes, only 2 shots behind Steve Stricker. To compete and win his caddy’s tournament of redemption is one thing but to continue to compete and stay in contention the following week at a major championship is something else.

Clearly, Adam Scott hasn’t had enough pressure placed on him during his career because as of this moment he is thriving with all the added weight on his shoulders. For most players, the benefit of the world’s most famous caddy by his side would have no doubt been outweighed by the stress brought on by all the extra pieces of luggage Steve Williams brought to the relationship.

Obviously, that has not been the case for Adam Scott.

Adam Scott’s play should have been the headline story last week but the fact that he has been able to handle the oddity of his situation throughout the week with the ease that he has is just making his play at the PGA Championship all the more impressive.

A lesser man would have collapsed.

The public should have a new found respect for Adam Scott after this whole ordeal. You may not like what his caddy has done but it is going to be hard not to cheer for him this weekend. It doesn’t matter if you think that Steve Williams doesn’t have the right to rub it into Tiger’s face because golf should never be about the caddies.

Adam Scott took the high road when he asked about his caddies comments. He might as well be on cloud nine right about now.

He may not win the PGA Championship but make no mistake, barring a meltdown of epic proportions, these last two weeks will go down as the most impressive stretch in the disappointing career of Adam Scott.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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