Dec. 6, 2009: Vick vs. the Falcons – are we ready for this?

MIchael Vick has a team, and that team will come to the Georgia Dome on Dec. 6. We in Atlanta have seen some momentous days in our time as a big-league city — we’ve played host to the Super Bowl, to the World Series, to All-Star games in three different sports, to Muhammad Ali’s return-from-exile fight against Jerry Quarry, even to an Olympiad — but we won’t have seen anything quite like this.

The saga that has in many ways divided our city will be coming to our city for one last act. The man who packed the Dome will return on an opponent’s roster. Nothing says Vick will actually play that day — he’s being signed to back up the majorly successful Donovan McNabb — but what if he does?

Will there be a Deion Sanders “This Is My House” Moment? Will Vick take a Jeff George victory lap if the Eagles win? Will Vick jerseys outnumber those shirts bearing the names and numbers of current Falcons that day in the Dome?

We cannot know the answers to any of this today, same as we couldn’t know Michael Vick would ever be an ex-Falcon. On Dec. 23, 2004, he signed the $130 million contract that was supposed to have made him a Falcon for life. On Dec. 31, 2006, he played his final game for the franchise.

And we Atlantans know all too well how the past three years have been. The Falcons hit bottom and are climbing again. Vick went to prison and is starting anew. And some of us here have turned this into a zero-sum game: If you’re for the Falcons you can no longer be for Vick, and vice versa. It is that peculiar dynamic that will be the backdrop on Dec. 6. It is that peculiar dynamic that makes some among us wonder if the massive Dome is a big enough place to hold all the emotions that will be present therein.

Michael Vick was the biggest professional athlete in this city’s history — bigger than Dominique, bigger than Chipper, bigger even than Hammerin’ Hank. Now he again works in the NFL, works for another team. And that team is on the 2009 Falcons’ schedule, and that game is here. We knew this would have to come at some point, but we couldn’t know it would arrive so soon.

And now, from the distance of August, we ask: Will we be able to handle it? Will there be fights in the stands? Fights on the field? (When last the Eagles played here, on a Monday night in September 2005, there was a brawl in pregame warmups.) Will the fabric of Atlanta be rent by a single football game on that one given Sunday?

And the guess, again from a faraway perch, is that we’ll all be just fine. The crowd will be alive but not overwrought. The teams will play a game and someone will win and Vick may or may not participate, and then we’ll all get along with the rest of our lives. It’s what people do. It’s what we Atlantans have come to do rather well.

For whom will you root on Dec. 6?

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We’re supposed to be the city too busy to hate, remember? We can also be the city big enough to root for both: We can wish Michael Vick well and still support the hometown team.

And it’s not as if we haven’t been through Big Events. Indeed, the day before the Eagles play the Falcons, there’ll be another event in the Dome that figures to stir some passions — the SEC championship. And you know what will happen after that titanic tilt? The Dome crews will sweep the aisles and redo the field markings and get ready for another game the next day.

Because, at bottom, that’s all these are. Just games.

167 comments Add your comment

qpzmide

August 13th, 2009
10:20 pm

Can’t wait to go to this game…….

Free Mike Vick

August 13th, 2009
10:23 pm

Vick should be in the league right now! He’s already served way too much time in prison and shouldn’t be suspended. He got railroaded by goodell, who treats African-American players different than white players! Free Mike Vick!!!

bigeasy830

August 13th, 2009
10:24 pm

There won’t be any fights in the stands Mark, the Vick haters on these blogs are cowards that hide behind a computer, and there won’t be much of a fight on the field either. By week 12, it will be obvious to most how much the Falcons suck. I will be there with a MV7 Eagles jersey on.

Falcons, 4-12 in 2009
“Back To Life, Back To Reality”

That Dream 2008 season just became a nightmare.
December 6, 2009

Illogical

August 13th, 2009
10:25 pm

He already is free, you idiot.

Great Falconi

August 13th, 2009
10:25 pm

The man firebombed the franchise.

There were no guarantees that things would get better after Vick left.

He should be mercilessly booed.

And I don’t hate the guy. I just think that he was probably the most visible Falcon player in team history and, well, he made the fans and the franchise look like a bunch of slapped a**es. Whatever your opinion is about the crimes he committed, the fact that he screwed us and his teammates should be enough to earn him those boos.

STL Falcon

August 13th, 2009
10:26 pm

I look forward to passes from #2 to #88. I look forward to seeing how fast Norwood still is. I look forward to see if Houston is ready to play. I look forward to Sidbury introducing himself to a few NFL QB’s. I look forward to Nicholas finally getting his chance (you guys have still missed the boat by not telling HIS story). I also look forward to what will be the best DT rotation in the NFC (remember who said it).

But most of all…

I look forward to the Philadelphia area residents getting these hourly updates on Michael Vick. He’s now officially on another team – SOOOOO, I look forward to updates and teasers about the Atlanta Falcons and thier players.

You had to write this story Mr. Bradley, I know that. Please though, let that man belong to another team already. – Oh, and tell your buddies in the sports room (I assume they give you guys at least a room) the same.

Go Falcons!

One Heartbeat

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
10:26 pm

I would be shocked if Michael Vick is booed.

Todd G

August 13th, 2009
10:26 pm

MV7 Lives… I am still a Falcon Fan but will get the Eagles #7, hopefully he will have him number.

There goes a sure sellout…

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
10:28 pm

I’m guessing there won’t be many tickets unsold for that one, Todd G.

Talk about a tough-ticket weekend: SEC championship on Saturday, Eagles-Falcons on Sunday.

brewdawg

August 13th, 2009
10:29 pm

I don’t wish any ill will on Vick. I guess you could say I’m indifferent towards him. He made me look pretty silly after years of supporting him to naysayers, and I happen to work with dogs for a living. But that doesn’t mean I am rooting AGAINST him by any means. As little as my heart has become over the years, a small part of me still wants to believe people can change. And I hope he does. But of course I will be rooting against him when the Eagles come to town. I’m a Falcon fan first.

Sam

August 13th, 2009
10:29 pm

Vick’s fanboys here like Najeh davenport must be having a party

ssiscribe

August 13th, 2009
10:30 pm

Mark, very well said.

Vick indeed captured this city like no one we’ve ever seen, and probably like no one we’ll ever see. The reality of his return to the NFL coming with the Eagles — the team that kept him from directing the Birds to the Super Bowl (thus depriving me of seeing the Falcons play in person in the Super Bowl; alas, I survived with Patriots/Eagles down in J’Ville) — in a year when Philly visits the Georgia Dome is equal parts tantalizing and trembling.

This city never has played host to such a dynamic sports figure, one who could unite the masses and, at the same time, split the population into two camps at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The dynamic in the stands of the Georgia Dome on the first Sunday in December will be a site to behold. Methinks a few extra security officers will spend that day on duty in the concourses, just in case.

As for the man who brought us such joy, only to rip out the soul of a franchise with his transgressions? I was taught to forgive, so I do forgive Vick, who — say what you will — is a man who has paid his debt to society.

Having grown up and been party to some of the biggest moments in this city’s sports history, I’d dare say Dec. 6 will be on the list of most memorable days, even if Vick doesn’t leave the sidelines.

(And while I’m here, Go Braves! Bring on the Phils!!).

–30–

Malted Falcon

August 13th, 2009
10:30 pm

Another reason to hate Philly. Can’t wait to hear Kincaide tomorrow. Bring on the double talk. It’s coming, folks.

Charlie

August 13th, 2009
10:30 pm

In his last season, he did not throw a TD in the 4th Quarter. He is just not a very good QB. What is the big deal?

Herschel Talker

August 13th, 2009
10:31 pm

Why do we still talk about this guy? He trainwrecked the franchise. Enough of this madness.

brewdawg

August 13th, 2009
10:32 pm

Oh, and I forgot the most important thing in all of this… will Madden 2010 come out with a patch to update the Eagles roster with Vick on it?? :)

Malted Falcon

August 13th, 2009
10:35 pm

Oh, he should be booed. He took a dump on the franchise and the city. I still haven’t heard him say he’s sorry. I’ve heard a LOT of other people say it, though.

Hooff Hearted

August 13th, 2009
10:36 pm

We need this moment so the city CAN move on. You nailed it…he is the most prominent figure (arguably) to ever represent Atlanta. He is the last and maybe only Atlanta athlete whose jersey was bought and worn outside of this city. Our superstar…whether you loved him or hated him. He made you mad and made you spill your beer with excitement, all during the course of the same series. Those that despise Vick wishe he never did what he did. Those that revere Vick wish he never did what he did. At the end of the day, what is the difference between the two emotions?

BringItOn

August 13th, 2009
10:38 pm

Just when I thought it was safe to return to this blog and the AJC here comes yet another Michael Vick article and all that will come with it. What’s this now story/blog number 1,889th. Geez, AJC, 780 The Zone and 690 The Fan. I’m certain you all will have high rating$ again, thank$ to all the freakin racist on BOTH freakin’s side of the debate. ALL I care about is the 2009/2010 Atlanta Falcons. Period. No matter who they be.

I for one am glad Michael gets another chance. He’s paid a heavy toll already. Let it go folks.

As a season ticket holder, I will clap for Michael when he is introduced and be respectful and mindful of the positive things Michael did for this team and organization. However, soon there after, I will root like heck he (and the Eagles) get their butts kicked because I am first and foremost a true Falcon Fan of 53 team members and the organization.

Go Michael. Congratulation. But here’s hoping you and the Eagles get your buttss kicked all the way back to Philly ! ! ! Go Falcons.

Oscar

August 13th, 2009
10:40 pm

AT LAST! I have checked on line atleast three times a day since he got reinstated. Not just on AJC but just about every other major sports web site. I am a HUGE Falcons fan and I am so glad to have yet another great quarterback in Matt Ryan. On the other hand, I have followed Michael Vick since he came into the league and I do not intend on stoping here. He made the falcons a team that was very exciting to watch… And I mean every Sunday. I wish him luck as he turns the page into another chapter in his life. Good luck to you Michael and I wish you the very best!!! See you at the Dome in December as I am cheering on my Falcons.

Wildebeast

August 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

That game will surely turn into the week’s flex game and get bumped over to a nighttime broadcast on NBC. Drunk I reckon’!

Najeh Davenpoop

August 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

I think Vick will get booed by about half the people there.

The other half, which will include me, will be cheering.

brewdawg

August 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

Great post BringItOn. Agree on all counts.

drsoul

August 13th, 2009
10:49 pm

I want Vick to have the chance to redeem himself; he has more than paid the price for his issues.. but, to say that he is bigger than Hank Aaron, you have ‘crossed the bridge’… he may well broach that in years to come, but at this point, noone really comes close to Aaron.. as an athlete and a person, Aaron will reign forever as Atlanta’s most prominent professional athlete..

BugKiller

August 13th, 2009
10:51 pm

Who the frak cares?

He’s a low-rent felon who is only truly sorry that he got caught.

Period.

Anyone else who believes different only wants to believe different because of the color of Vick’s skin. Racism works BOTH ways.

Are we finally done with Vick, Mark?

Are we finally finished having to hear about the man who single-handedly did more to destroy a football team than any member of the Smith Family or a man named Petrino?

Please, God, let this be the end of it until the first week in December!

Angus

August 13th, 2009
10:51 pm

Thank you drsoul.

C’mon Bradley – an old timer like yourself giving Hank the slight?

Bourbon Dawgwalker

August 13th, 2009
10:51 pm

I’ll be at the game and I’ll be booing mercilessly. No other figure in Atlanta history has firebombed his franchise worse than Vick. I’ll boo him for what he did to the Falcons and for what he did to the dogs.

With that being said, I wish him good luck in his future and hope he has learned his lesson.

Doug

August 13th, 2009
10:53 pm

Won’t Vick be #3 QB at best? Behind McNabb and Kolb? I would think he was signed to give the Eagles insurance at RB as well, given Westbrook’s bad ankle.

Wow

August 13th, 2009
10:57 pm

Vick pooped on the Falcons and his fans by making some horrible decisions. They weren’t mistakes, they were decisions. Yes, we all make poor decisions but not all or even close to half of us make decisions that are as vile and sociopathic as Vick. Anyone who blames anyone but Vick for those decisions and what happened as a result of those decisions will never understand how the world works.

That being said, Vick is out of jail, was cleared by the commish, and found someone to sign him and play him. Good for him. I hope he makes some money and pays off his debts. Just know that I will boo the crap out of him come December because I and the rest of this town were forced to endure a whole craptastic season of Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redmond. I challenge anyone to try to convince me why I shouldn’t boo Vick for that.

Paul

August 13th, 2009
11:12 pm

Thank you for this article, M. Bradley…I worry about this man’s return. There are still some Falcon players who love Vick. Not to mention that ol’ number 7 will certainly have a role greater than backup quarterback. I hope there are not any chemistry or conflict of interest issues during this contest; I hope he doesn’t make fans think that the organization made a bad decision in cutting him. I hope the Falcons can continue to build upon the chemistry that they have created with Ryan and win a championship. I also hope Vick does well for himself with the Eagles, just don’t make the Falcons’ D look bad.

Ryder

August 13th, 2009
11:12 pm

I believe that Matt Ryan is going to have a day to remember when the Eagles come to visit! Atlanta will be fighting for a division title, (while the Aints will be getting ready to fire Sean Payton and the extremely overrated Drew Brees) and the Eagles will put the finishing touches on a playoff berth by then. Vick’s presence will be minimal unless they plan on doing some serious trick plays.

That said, I believe the fans will be divided as to whom to cheer that day. Should be exciting.

FALCONS SORRY

August 13th, 2009
11:14 pm

PHILADELPHIA EAGELS! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE JUST MADE THE BEST MOVE IN THE HISTORY OF YOUR CITY AND FRANCHISE AND JUST PUNCH YOUR TICKET TO MIAMI COME JANUARY! AUTHUR BLANK! GET READY TO MOVE TO THE POOR HOUSE YOU SORRY BACK STABBING CROOK! MIKE VICK IS COMING BACK AND HE WILL EXACT HIS VENGENCE UPON YOU! MV7 HAS RETURNED IN SPITE OF ALL THE HATERS AND PETA AND THE SORRY AJC TRYING TO TEAR HIM DOWN AND PUT HIM BACK IN SHACKELS AND CHAINS! VICK IS BACK ON TRACK TO RECLAIMING HIS THRONE AND HE WILL BE FLYING HIGH LIKE AN EAGEL WHEN HE DO IT! EVERYBODY KNOW THAT A EAGEL WILL ALWAYS KILL A FALCON! GET READY TO GO BROKE LIKE YOU DESERVE BLANK! THE REAL KING AUTHUR OF ATLANTA IS COMING BACK DECEMBER 6 AND HE MAKE YOU PAY BLANK! BIG TIME! HE IS GOING TO WIN THAT SUPPER BOWL RING FOR PHILY AND LEAVE ATL WITH OUT ONE! AND HE WILL MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY THAN THAT STINGY BLANK WAS WILLING TO PAY HIM WHEN HE BEAT ATL TO DO IT! COME DECEMBER TREAT BLANKS SORRY FALCONS THE SAME WAY YOU TOOK OUT THEM WORTHLESS DOGS THAT LOST MIKE!

Matthew

August 13th, 2009
11:20 pm

Mark, you must be crazy if you don’t think he’ll be booed. I particularly don’t care about the dog fighting part, however, as a Falcons fan who invest thousands of dollars into season tickets who feels that the 2007 season was one of my worst investments ever, I’m still miffed.
I am pretty happy though how it turned out. Without Vick leaving, Petrino is still here and we are still an 8-8 team strapped by the constraints of Vick’s popularity vs. actually winning. Ryan, White, Gonzalez, Turner, Norwood and Jenkins? The best offensive attack in the NFC.
On another note, wasn’t Ryan’s favorite team growing up the Eagles?
Ironic.

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
11:23 pm

Also ironic — well, not really, but almost — is that the Braves start a three-game series against the Phillies tomorrow.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 13th, 2009
11:23 pm

Falcons Sorry, you should have your own talk show. I laugh out loud at every one of your posts.

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
11:24 pm

And when I say Vick was the biggest sports figure in Atlanta history, I don’t mean the best player. I mean he stirred the most conversation and sold the most tickets.

Cairo

August 13th, 2009
11:25 pm

I am Falcon’s Fan first and foremost.. However, I am not crazy enough to forget what #7 did for this franchise positively. I will root for his success but will making sure I am cheering for a Falcon victory. Mark you raised some questions I raised earlier with some friends. It is going to GIGANTIC on Dec 6th. Good luck #7… I am glad the Eagles grew a pair… Compassion won this signing and Andy Reid knows personally.

EaglesRule

August 13th, 2009
11:25 pm

With Vick, the Eagles can put him in the wildcat inside the 20 and score like crazy baby!!! He’s perfect for this offense! Philly just punched their ticket to the Super Bowl–Vick was the missing piece. Blank blew it–he should have brought Vick back as a wildcat QB.

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
11:26 pm

I have to say this: I have long admired the Eagles organization. I think Vick will do very well there.

Stevengilley15

August 13th, 2009
11:30 pm

I believe there will be a few who boo Vick but the outpouring support for his return and chance at redemption will definitely overshadow the boos. I boycotted the Falcons last season because I feel the city turned on Vick way too quickly and the organization handled the situation wrong but they were in a difficult position so there was no definite right way or wrong way to handle it and Atlanta has always had fair-weathered fans, so what do you expect. Right now, I am still not feeling the love for the home team or excitement but I still go hard for the home team. I definitely will be rooting for Mike Vick because I like to see people redeem themselves and do well. So. Dec. 6th will be a good day for me on two accounts. Home team Falcons and former home town QB Mike Vick being on the field again. HOPEFULLY he gets a snap or two

Tired Of Dumb Vick Fans and Glad Matt Ryan is Here

August 13th, 2009
11:30 pm

Yes Mark we are ready it will be in December. Thank God he is no longer just associated with the Falcons anymore. He won’t be introduced at all in the dome, he will be back up or third string to DONOVAN MCNABB, a great quarterback!!!

atlanta falcons | What's going on!!

August 13th, 2009
11:30 pm

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
11:32 pm

It would be a bit of a downer if Vick is the emergency quarterback and stands on the sideline that day.

Back 2 Reality

August 13th, 2009
11:35 pm

I hope all of the inbred hicks finally “get it”!. This is all about money, that game will surely, if both teams are in playoff contention, will be move to a night game.

Vick is nothing but a money machine that just got switched ON!! Goddell may be a dirtbag, but he’s no fool, Vick = Ratings + Sells = MONEY!!!

So for all of the 6th grade education bigots, go take so night classes about economics, because PHILLY is just going to be money GREEN!!!

Can’t wait to get my Vick eagles jersey!!!!

NCFalconFan

August 13th, 2009
11:38 pm

Vick made me an NFL Fan. If it wasn’t for Vick my Sundays would be Lifetime (yes, I’m a woman!!) I wish Vick well and hope that he has a successful second career. However, I am more than giddy that MATT RYAN IN MY QB and on December 6th we are going to kick a&^!!!

Tired Of Dumb Vick Fans and Glad Matt Ryan is Here

August 13th, 2009
11:38 pm

A downer? For who? There are people in this town who are unwavering Fans of the Falcons.

There will be a bunch of morons with Eagles jerseys hoping to see him get on the field. Most football fans should appreciate the marquee matchup between McNabb and Matt Ryan with Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and Roddy White. Those who appreciate good football that is.

VickNow

August 13th, 2009
11:40 pm

Can I still buy a Vick #7 Atlanta jersey to wear to the game in December???

Mark Bradley

August 13th, 2009
11:42 pm

It should be a great football game. But you really can’t ignore the Vick component of it, can you?

Reid Adair

August 13th, 2009
11:49 pm

Let the former #7 sign with the Eagles. Will he see time on the field when Philadelphia comes to town? Who knows? What Falcons fan really cares?

If he plays, he plays. If he doesn’t, so what?

I sincerely hope that there are no fights in the stands – or the streets. I expect he’ll get some cheers – and a lot of boos. Again, that depends on if he even gets in the game.

What the former #7 did to Arthur Blank, the Falcons, the city of Atlanta and Falcons fans everywhere was horrible. But, he served his time, and Blank made it clear long ago that he would never be in a Falcons uniform again. I really don’t know what more Falcons fans could ask for.

Truth be told, in many ways, the organization and the team are better off now than I expect they would have been if the former #7 had never gotten arrested.

ljdawg

August 13th, 2009
11:50 pm

If you are true Falcons fan, why do you care where Vick plays! He did some very stupid things but paid for them! the Commissioner, the Eagles, Andy Reid and McNabb all have said this man deserves this shot, so who are you to say different? Cheer for the birds! Be happy that the team seems headed in the right direction but give the I hate Vick crapa rest! No NFL player owes any of you anything! Worry about your own lives, raise your own kids and watch the game for what it is, entertainment!