Eagles await Goodell's ruling on Vick

Posted: September 03, 2009

Eagles coach Andy Reid has to cut his roster to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday. The decisions would be easier if he knew when Michael Vick could play in the regular season.

An Eagles spokesman denied an ESPN report last night that the team expected NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to say before the deadline when Vick would be able to play.

A team source said the Eagles had not been told when Goodell would decide.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment last night on the ESPN report.

"I don't know when the commissioner will make his decision," Aiello said. "He hasn't told me yet."

The announcement - or lack thereof - will influence who is on the Eagles' 53-man squad.

Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick following the quarterback's release from prison after an 18-month term for involvement in dogfighting, but the commissioner said full reinstatement might not happen until Week 6 of the regular season.

Vick could be placed on what's called the exempt list and not count against the 53-man total. But that would prohibit him from practicing, which would slow his assimilation and lessen his usefulness to the Eagles.

Vick is scheduled to play in tonight's final exhibition game, against the New York Jets, at Giants Stadium, but so, too, is A.J. Feeley, and Goodell's decision on Vick could have an immediate effect on Feeley.

If Goodell ends Vick's suspension after two regular-season games, the Eagles might trade Feeley and risk carrying only Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb on their roster. If the suspension is longer, the Eagles might keep Feeley for a few more weeks.

The Vick element is new, but Feeley has been here before.

When you're a journeyman in the NFL, you get used to teetering on the line between making a team and not doing so near the end of the preseason.

"It's not frustrating," said Feeley, 32. "It's the nature of playing professional football. I've been in this situation before. I guess you could say from past experiences it's helped me develop the mind-set I have now."

About two dozen or so Eagles won't survive Saturday's deadline for final cuts.

Feeley has had quite a run in Philadelphia, one built over two stints. He has had about as much job security as a backup quarterback could expect. But when the Eagles acquired Vick three weeks ago, Feeley must have felt as secure as Pete Best did when the Beatles starting bringing Ringo Starr around.

Several teams are reportedly interested in trading for Feeley, New England and St. Louis among them.

Either way, the onetime fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles senses that his days as a local celebrity are numbered.

"My heart will always be real fond of Philadelphia because that's where I got my start," Feeley said. "It's tough, but at the end of the day . . . there's stuff that goes on upstairs that you have no control over."

Feeley has had his moments as an Eagle.

In 2002, after McNabb broke his leg, the then-second-year player jumped in with five games left in the season and guided the Eagles to a 4-1 record and a playoff berth.

In 2004, the Eagles dealt Feeley to Miami for a second-round pick - eventually used on wide receiver Reggie Brown - but the quarterback was back in 2006.

A year later, he nearly pulled off an upset when, filling in for an injured McNabb, the Eagles narrowly lost to the heavily favored New England Patriots.

Feeley also met his fiancee, Heather Mitts, while in Philadelphia. She is a professional soccer player.

"She hasn't decided where she's playing yet," Feeley said. "She played [in Boston] last year. I'm familiar with the area."

Feeley has another opportunity to showcase his talents, should the Patriots or any other teams be interested. He'll split the second half of tonight's game with Vick. Kolb is scheduled to play the entire first half.

"I see myself as a young guy still with a lot of football left," said Feeley, who completed 34 of 44 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown in the first two preseason games.

Feeley is not the only veteran on the edge of leaving the Eagles.

Defensive tackle Dan Klecko and fullback Kyle Eckel are local players who caught on with the Eagles last season but might not fit into the team's plans for this season.

Eckel played high school football at Episcopal Academy. Klecko is best remembered for his four-year run at Temple.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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