Michael Vick has returned to the Georgia Dome. He jogged on the field at 11:24 a.m. He received a polite round of applause. (There weren’t many folks in the stands yet.) The first person he approached was Jimmy Cribb, the longtime Falcons photographer. The two embraced.
“He told me I always took good pictures of him,” Cribb said, “and if I got anything good today to send them to him.”
Then came the long-awaited meeting with Arthur Blank. (See above photo, shot by someone much less professional than Jimmy Cribb.) And then Reggie Roberts, the Falcons’ VP of communications, walked over to Vick. More hugging ensued.
Roberts: “He told me he missed being here. He misses the city, misses the Dome. He said he was crying on the bus ride over.”
Along those lines, here’s a snippet of an as-told-to article Vick did with David Fleming of ESPN The Magazine. Here’s Vick speaking his mind on, of all things, the Dome:
“I’m looking forward to going back to the Georgia Dome. I may not do much. I may not even play in the game. But just having the opportunity to be there and maybe have a chance to talk to the Falcons owner, Mr. Blank, before the game — that would be a great thing for me. I spent many a Sunday making that crowd go wild, and I appreciate all those fans. They were great. Man, I miss [those] days.”
In all the furor over Michael Vick, one truth kept getting lost: No matter what he did, the guy’s still a human being. And now he’s again a football player. We don’t know much he’ll play today, if at all. And we don’t yet know — it’s only 11:45 — how the crowd will be. My guess: Warm toward Vick, warmer toward the Falcons.
Speaking of whom: The home side is up against it. Here’s the inactive list: Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Michael Jenkins, Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl. That’s five offensive starters out for what is a game with massive playoff ramifications. (The Falcons and Eagles are tracking the same wild card.) The only consolation, and it’s slim: Philly is missing playmakers DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook.
And that’s why a 7-4 road team is a 5-1/2 point favorite over a 6-5 opponent. You never see that in the NFL, but today seems a day where form could take a hike. The Falcons are undermanned, but there’s almost a last-stand element to this one. Meaning: On this given Sunday, the desperate club could just lift itself by its bootstraps.
And I’ll be here to watch and report, as we say in the trade, with one difference: I have permission from AJC.com higher-ups not to make this a live chat, but because the day has started on a bright conciliatory note I’ve decided to open the floor for comments. Should we devolve into our usual volley of back-and-forthing, the live chat will go away and will not re-open. It’s your choice. Thanks in advance.