Michael Vick, Jay Cutler seeking a little brotherly love
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org November 7, 2011 11:12PM
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick still draws the most ire from fans of the NFL. | Matt Slocum~AP
Updated: December 9, 2011 8:23AM
PHILADELPHIA — You know you’re in the City of Brotherly Love when the first drunken, belligerent fan you walk past on the street is wearing an Eagles T-shirt with “DRINKIN’ AT LINCOLN” on the front.
That would be Lincoln Financial Field, where Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is himself a controversial man.
They mostly love him here — but that can’t be said about the rest of the fans in the NFL. As Vick got run down by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs in the second quarter and then two plays later threw an interception, tipped by Briggs into Bears safety Major Wright’s hands, you had to wonder if maybe the people here might turn on Vick, too.
The convicted and ostensibly rehabbed dog fighter is back in the league after time in prison and doing well. On the field, that is. Despite the fact we appreciate reformed sinners in this country, dog lovers are likely never to forgive Vick for killing some of man’s best friends.
Thus, in a poll released by Forbes.com on Monday, Vick came out as easily the most despised man in the NFL.
The poll, run by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, shows that 60 percent of those surveyed “dislike,” “dislike somewhat” or “dislike a lot” the guy who once was a Virginia Tech All-American, a first pick in the NFL draft and without question the most exciting player in a league filled with exciting players.
In second place is another ex-con, Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress, at 56 percent. Then you have Steelers quarterback and sexual miscreant Ben Roethlisberger in third place, followed by lazy, angry, overpaid Patriots defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who once gave Cowboys center Andre Gurode 30 stitches worth of facial cleatmarks.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the unpopularity thing is that No. 5 in the poll is Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, coming in at 38 percent. It’s believed that Cutler’s sneering demeanor and dubious exit from last season’s NFC Championship Game are the main reasons for his non-liking.
To have two of the five most-detested players in the NFL leading their teams against each other on a Monday Night Football game was clearly a boon for NFL and TV viewers in a world where we’ll watch anything — good or evil — as long as it’s not boring.
Nobody likes anybody on the field, so the poll meant nothing as the Eagles came back from an early 10-0 hole to take a 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
Both Vick and Cutler had passes dropped, and both had moments when it seemed they could have scrambled up field if desired. But it was also clear that each athlete could feel the intensity of the game and sensed he might not survive the battering from open-field running.
Vick, the lefty sprinter, let his defense and running backs do most of the work, but his essential threat was always there. Cutler, too, showed his agility. And the Eagles D had to respect it.
Ultimately, it was quarterback Jay Cutler who came out with the win. And, thus, of course, the love.