"They should just make the No. 7 a dog tail," said Kevin Moore, an Eagles fan who proudly owns a Donovan McNabb jersey but claims he wouldn't be caught dead in a Vick version.
Yet those who do plan to buy the jersey say those harsh judgments couldn't be further from the truth. For them, the No. 7 emblazoned on Eagles green is a testament to redemption.
For many African American fans, elements of racial solidarity are woven into the polyester and mesh fabric. Seemingly overnight, Vick has become symbolic to black men who understand - maybe more than most - that it's hard to integrate into society and make an honest living after serving time in prison.
Even if the Eagles' decision to give Vick a $1.6 million contract doesn't win a championship this season, the shirt has the potential to become a unifying factor, like wearing a red, black and green ski hat at a Million Man March.
The signing "doesn't necessarily make football sense," said Barry Wilkins of Mount Airy, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who is black. "But we want to show support behind a man who has done his time and deserves a second chance."
Others who plan to wear No. 7 see it as a way to fully support the Eagles. After all, in sports, isn't winning everything?
Bruce Tral believes Vick will make the team better, and wearing a No. 7 jersey shows he backs the athlete. "He's a good player," Tral said. "The Eagles deserve a shot at winning."
Steamed that Vick gets to wear the beloved No. 7 once worn by Ron Jaworski? Some, like Roland Denardo, will use the occasion to dust off the old jersey and pay homage to the Eagles quarterback of the 1980s.
"I don't care one way or the other about Vick," said Denardo. "He shouldn't have gotten that number."
Fashion has a long history of transcending the merely aesthetic to make political, social, and racial statements, said Natalie W. Nixon, Philadelphia University's associate professor of fashion industry management.
In the 1930s and '40s, the exaggerated tailoring and bold colors of zoot suits were a declaration of freedom and racial pride for African Americans. In the late 1960s, women declared their independence with bra-burning demonstrations as part of the movement for equal rights.
Sports fans wore Michael Jordan's No. 23 jersey and his Air Jordan sneakers to emulate his high-end lifestyle. Who didn't want to be like Mike?
But this Vick jersey has become a lightning rod linking animal-rights and racial activism and, well, football - heavyweight crusades that rarely cross paths.
That's a lot to swallow for people who just want to enjoy the game.
My girlfriend, a diehard sports fan, bought a No. 7 Saturday from Modell's in King of Prussia. But the season ticket holder plans to leave it at home when she attends the second home preseason game next week after already experiencing one confrontation at the Linc upon Vick's signing.
Eddie Smith of Montgomeryville doesn't want the hassle, either. Vick should have a second chance, he said, but he won't be buying a jersey because he believes it detracts from the team.
"When I wore my [Donovan] McNabb jersey and my [Brian] Dawkins jersey, I was proud to be an Eagle," Smith said. "To me, this jersey says I support Vick, but Vick is not bigger than the game. I support the Eagles."
And I say that's the power of fashion.
Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215- 854-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.