Gonzo: Things are cooling off at Eagles camp

Michael Vick, with coach Andy Reid , triggered a media frenzy a week ago, but on Tuesday, only a few reporters tried to talk to him as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand to speak.
Michael Vick, with coach Andy Reid , triggered a media frenzy a week ago, but on Tuesday, only a few reporters tried to talk to him as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand to speak.
Posted: August 04, 2010

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The sky above Lehigh University was low and overcast on Tuesday, and a light wind whipped across the field while the Eagles held their morning practice. It seems things are cooling off at training camp.

When the players reported a week ago, temperatures and tempers were hot. After arriving at the dorms and checking in, Michael Vick was quickly surrounded by a pack of media members that ran up a hill and attempted to swallow him whole before he could scramble out of the pocket and get away. It looked like one of those Discovery Channel shows where an unsuspecting gazelle wanders off alone, only to wind up as the evening's main course on the Safari Café dinner menu.

It wasn't that way Tuesday. Vick walked off the field after the morning session and past a knot of reporters without incident. He may as well have been one of the team's interns or ball boys. A few journos asked for a moment of his time. The rest didn't bother. It seemed most knew he wouldn't talk or, even if he did, say anything worth hearing and writing down.

Vick paused for a few minutes to entertain a teenager who called out his name and wanted to shake the quarterback's hand. All of that happened within full view of the media. No one interrupted or used it as an opportunity to re-ask the many still-unanswered questions about Vick's off-season behavior. Instead, Vick and the boy were left alone to talk by themselves.

Following the afternoon session, a few more reporters tried to get Vick to stop and address the media. It didn't take long for the assembly to realize he wasn't going to oblige, and the crowd dispersed.

For better or worse, it appears the Eagles have succeeded in their attempt to sweep Vick and his birthday party decision under the training camp throw rug. It's impressive how the organization is disciplined enough to ignore the giant lump in the middle of the room. Apparently, no one is concerned about it messing with the Birds' football feng shui.

Commissioner Roger Goodell was at Lehigh on Tuesday. He met with reporters and discussed the Vick situation. It was probably the penultimate interview in the Vick saga. After Jeffrey Lurie - who was also at camp Tuesday - finally grants the media an audience, the Eagles will probably skip the Vick questions altogether instead of offering vague, evasive answers just to placate those of us who still can't figure out why they won't tell us what the franchise learned about the Virginia Beach incident.

So, yeah, The Commish:

"I want [Vick] to understand that he's in a different position than others, and because of that he has to conduct himself differently," Goodell said. "He recognizes that, I think. Hopefully, he's going to make better decisions going forward."

Not long after the commissioner spoke, the NFL issued a statement saying it won't take any disciplinary action as a result of what happened in Virginia Beach. Like the Eagles, the league failed to explain what it thinks happened at The Bang, Bang Birthday Bash (copyright pending).

For his part, Andy Reid said all the expected things about the commissioner's visit, which included an in-person chitchat with Vick, the team's resident VNP (Very Nice Person). The head coach said it was "good to have the commissioner here" and added that "it's awesome that he's getting out and visiting the different teams."

"He and Michael have talked throughout [training camp], but it's better when it's face-to-face," Reid said. "Going over the things Michael needs to do, checking up on him, and seeing how he's doing and that type of thing."

Just reading another quote about "the things Michael needs to do" and how everyone, including Goodell, is "checking up on him" makes me tired. The rope-a-dope strategy has worked nicely for the Birds. The media is just about punched out. All the Eagles have to do now is push us over while we gasp for air.

Unlike Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant - who refused to follow tradition and carry any veteran shoulder pads - Eagles first-round draft pick Brandon Graham said he doesn't have any problem with football's hazing ritual. In fact, the defensive end is prepared for one of his tasks: taking the vets out to dinner on his dime. "The trick," Graham said, "is to call ahead [to the restaurant] and see if you can work out a deal." Thrifty. No wonder the Birds' front office likes him. . . . Mike Quick still has good hands. He snagged an errant Vick pass when the ball flew out of bounds and into the media crowd lining the sideline. Unlike Freddie Mitchell, Quick did not immediately thank his hands for being so great. . . . Page 2 programming note: This week's Ask Gonzo on Philly.com has been moved to Thursday at 1 p.m. Just like Brett Favre, it's the chat with no straight answers.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gonzophilly.

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