Inside the Eagles: Facing the Vick media surge

Punter Sav Rocca in 2009. This week, he faced hordes of media near his locker.
Punter Sav Rocca in 2009. This week, he faced hordes of media near his locker.
Posted: October 03, 2010

Through two weeks of drama, an unlikely Eagle has had a front-row seat.

As Philadelphia's great quarterback flip-flop of 2010 twirled into McNabb-a-thon, the space around Michael Vick's locker became center stage, a daily gathering place for a media horde spitting questions and jostling for position.

Sav Rocca, the quiet Australian punter who sits two stalls away, watched it all with a mix of amazement and amusement.

"I was going to charge for prime parking around Michael Vick's locker," Rocca said.

He would have made a fortune around noon Wednesday, the first time Eagles players were available to talk to the media about Sunday's game against the Redskins. No fewer than three dozen reporters, broadcasters, and cameramen formed a sweaty semicircle around Vick's locker - even though he wasn't there.

They were just reserving space, like desperate concert-goers camping out for tickets to the big show.

The lockers adjacent to Vick's - belonging to fellow quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Mike Kafka - were filled with the media overflow. Kolb's dirty gym shorts were trampled underfoot, his chair commandeered by a cameraman seeking a better angle.

A few feet away Rocca, who, as a punter, rarely garners attention, flipped through a magazine. Overhead, a flat-screen television silently showed Vick highlights. The 6-foot-5 Rocca stood and changed into his game pants.

At that moment, he could have donned a gasoline-soaked Terrell Owens jersey and lit himself on fire, and none of the assembled media would have noticed.

When Vick saw the gathered throng, a brief look of dread crossed his face, but he continued toward it. "You're just going to do Kevin's chair like that?"

(Kolb, it seems, had the sense to avoid the fray).

Vick is a man accustomed to media attention, but even he was awed.

"Amazing," he said as he entered the human cul-de-sac and began fielding questions.

A sound man holding a boom mike lifted the contraption into the air with both hands while resting the middle of the pole atop his head for support. He hoisted it over the crowd and maneuvered the recording end down near Vick, like a fishing rod hoping to snag a juicy sound bite.

Rocca, a former Australian rules football star who played professionally for 15 years in his home country, just watched.

This mob was even bigger than the one that had formed a week earlier, a day after head coach Andy Reid named Vick his starting quarterback.

That afternoon there were two swarms, one assembled before Vick's locker, another a few steps away questioning Kolb, the former starter who had been demoted.

Everyone had questions, and no one wanted to miss out on the stories of the day.

Rocca could hardly believe it. Holding his iPhone aloft he panned from one mob to the other, recording the scene with a bemused grin. Rocca plans to send the video to his former teammates in Australia, who have never seen coverage intensity such as this.

"My wife saw it. She thought it was hysterical," Rocca said.

The attention actually grew this week. With the focus on Donovan McNabb's return and Vick's ascension, the Eagles' locker room has been flooded with reporters from Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, national outlets such as ESPN and the NFL Network, and even a TV crew from the NFL's Japanese website.

A few experienced players, veterans of deep playoff runs, shrugged it all off. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who played on the 2007 Patriots team that went undefeated in the regular season and endured the "Spygate" controversy, was nonplussed by the size of the media herd.

"Average," he said with a playful smirk.

Still, it was plenty big for some.

"I like it quiet," Rocca said.

Maybe next year, Sav.


Inside the Eagles:

Read the Inquirer's Eagles blog, "Birds' Eye View," by Jeff McLane and Jonathan Tamari, at

Blog response of the week

   Subject: Cole "questionable" for Sunday; Jean-Gilles may start

   Response from Philly_Mike at 8 p.m. Friday.

   "Eagles have no problem switching players from guard to tackle, tackle to guard, guard to center, but switching one from right guard to left guard is a problem?"


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

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