Gonzo: The Vick bandwagon

Michael Vick with one of the few people who haven't appointed him the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback - coach Andy Reid.
Michael Vick with one of the few people who haven't appointed him the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback - coach Andy Reid.
Posted: September 20, 2010

Even before Sunday, the Michael Vick hype was inescapable. Now it's out of control. The steady stream of Vick praise has become a rushing flash flood with a powerful undertow that threatens to drown the Eagles - or at least Kevin Kolb.

Andy Reid said Kolb would be reinstalled as the starter, and Vick told a Fox reporter after the game that "this is Kevin's team." That won't quiet the masses' full-throated support of Vick.

The Eagles beat the Lions, 35-32, in Detroit. That no doubt comes as a surprise to scores of pundits and fans, casual and hard-core alike, many of whom surely believe Vick (321 yards of total offense, two touchdowns) thwarted the Lions by himself. The other Birds are an afterthought now, a sideshow compared with the Michael Vick Main Event.

On ESPN, George Smith's SportsCenter package explained how the contest would afford Vick "the chance to shape his future - in Philadelphia or somewhere else." Bob Ley began his Outside the Lines monologue with a nod to Vick. Cris Carter raved that Vick is "still the fastest quarterback to ever play the game," and Mike Ditka said he's "a nightmare to defend."

On the NFL Network, Deion Sanders said Vick should replace Kolb for good. Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, and Terry Bradshaw echoed the sentiment on Fox.

And on it went. Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco championed the Vick cause on Twitter: "#fact Once Mike Vick starts again he will not lose the starting job." And ESPN's Adam Schefter - in the course of talking about Vick's "cashing in" on a new contract - dusted off an old story from the summer in which he interviewed Donovan McNabb, who, after being traded, supposedly and prophetically warned everyone to "watch out this season for Vick."

Every fan, it seems, has a take on Vick as well - even those who apparently know far less about football than how to craft clothes out of meat products. The700Level.com had the brilliant idea of interviewing people at the Lady Gaga concert. You can watch the edifying bit here: http://bit.ly/9kNrFz. The gist was that Gaga's crowd likes Vick and thinks Kolb (evidently pronounced "Culb") "sucks" and "isn't ready for prime time." It's hard to argue with that sort of reasoning, especially when the analyst is wearing homemade sunglasses fashioned from cigarettes.

But it was Fox studio host Curt Menefee who best summed up the Vick fervor and omnipresence. When he opened the halftime show, Menefee said - with no introduction or greeting to the audience - "Michael Vick, Michael Vick, Michael Vick." It was a bit reminiscent of the old Smurfs gag where the title of the cartoon could be used as a substitute for almost any word. "I can't believe how well the Vicks vicked the Lions, 35 to Vick, on Vickday."

There's no going back now. Resist the movement at your peril. This week, our national democracy will no doubt be scrapped in favor of a Vick-led dictatorship. Paper money will soon feature Vick's face, and the once-free media will be replaced by a state-run, pro-Vick propaganda machine.

It will be a utopia, and I for one would like to welcome our Vick-loving overlords.

The Fox NFL studio show is close to unwatchable. This week it was worse than usual, if only because the hosts missed an obvious opportunity to mess with Jimmy Johnson.

For the unaware, the Cowboys-coach-turned-

yammering-television-ninny is on Survivor: Nicaragua. I haven't seen an episode of the show since the first season, but the prospect of Johnson and his petrified hair crouching low in the jungle to forage for grubs hooked me.

I wasn't disappointed. Viewers were treated to Johnson's distended stomach and bony ribs while he dry-heaved and complained about the chills - after the first day. He also conversed with the other Survivors almost entirely in football jargon while giving unsolicited rah-rah speeches to his team, many of whom referred to him as "Coach." He was like an old war vet who kept having flashbacks.

"I remember my first Super Bowl," Johnson said during one pep talk. "We lost the first two ball games, but we were able to hang in there."

Maybe he meant "quarters" instead of "ball games." Or maybe he was delusional and suffering from heatstroke. I give it until halfway through the next show before he smears wild hog blood on his face, rants about Buddy Ryan, and howls "how 'bout them Cowboys" for no reason. It's a little like watching a remake of Lord of the Flies with Johnson playing the role of Piggy.

Need to trademark my "It's Always Shady in Philadelphia" slogan before someone turns it into a bootleg T-shirt moneymaker. . . . Fox analyst Tim Ryan is the anti-Nostradamus. He opened the game by praising Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill - who promptly threw a pick to Nate Allen. Ryan followed that prediction by saying Nate Burleson will have 70 catches and eight touchdowns this year. Shortly thereafter, Burleson was injured. . . . ESPN's Fantasy Football Now might be the best show on TV. Don't judge me. . . . Page 2 programming note: "Ask Gonzo" chat will start at 2 p.m. on Philly.com on Monday. Wonder what people will want to discuss.


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

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