Archive | September, 2011

Bring on The Cardinals: Energized Phillies Ready for NLDS

30 Sep

Roy Halladay to pitch Game 1 of NLDS for the Phillies

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and Chris Murray Report

Bring on the Cardinals: The Phillies are rough and ready for the Division Series

PHILADELPHIA—Even though they had clinched the National League East and homefield advantage for all the National League playoff series, the Phillies were trying to shake themselves out of a season-worst eight-game winning streak.

Shortly before his team’s final road series of the regular season, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins predicted that his team’s batteries would be fully charged on their road trip, especially in their final series against a desperate Atlanta Braves team.

“It helps when another team is coming to get you, you find a way to turn it up,” Rollins said.

J-Roll was right, but will the rush the Phillies got from their sweep of Atlanta enough to ward off an equally hot St. Louis Cardinals team in the best of five National League Division Series, which begins Saturday afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park (5:07 p.m. TBS).e

“We have to be hungrier than anyone because we’re expected to, we have a target on our back,” said Phils right fielder Hunter Pence. “It can add pressure, but the main thing is to not think about that. It’s about being hungrier and go with everything you’ve got with all your focus and concentration.”

2010 Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA) will start for the Phillies against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA) .

Even though the regular-season is now in the past tense, the Phillies seemed to be energized by their recent experience in Atlanta and the now feel that they are in the right frame of mind to battle a scrappy Cardinals team that overcame an eight-and-a half-game deficit to win the National League Wildcard race on the final game of the season.

“I think that series, going in, was a playoff series,” Howard said. “We had to look at it to get ourselves geared. The Braves knew they were playing for something to try to get into the playoffs. We knew that they were going to bring it and come with whatever they had and just gear ourselves up for October. Yeah, I thought that was a good series for us to get things going and get ready for October.”

During the regular season, the Cardinals, who clinched their playoff spot on the last day of the regular season, beat the Phillies in six of their nine games. Two of those losses came at Citizen’s Bank Park after the Phillies had clinched a playoff berth.

“Everybody’s dangerous, you can’t overlook anybody,” Howard said. “Sometimes wildcards can be the most dangerous team because they had to scratch and claw and do what they had to do to get to this point.

“As far as they nine games we had against St. Louis, it’s a whole different ball game. When you get to this point, you throw all that other stuff out the door because now it’s a sprint to the finish, every body’s going to come with their A-game.”

Of course, the Phillies will come into the postseason with the best pitching staff in baseball with the likes of Halladay, Cliff Lee, who will start in Game 2, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Halladay opened last year’s postseason with the second no-hitter in the history of postseason baseball in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS.

With all the pressure and expectations heaped upon what is arguably a “Dream Team” of a starting rotation, Halladay said there is no more extra pressure on the Phillies than what they put on themselves.

“You know I don’t really see a lot of extra pressure,” said Halladay, who pitched a major league leading eight complete games. “I think that everybody expects what we expect out of ourselves. You know if if doesn’t happen, I’m sure there would be a lot of disappointment, but we don’t look at that side of it right now. I think we have the opportunity in front of us and we have the chance to do it.”

The big question for the Phillies will be whether they can hit consistently enough and score enough runs for their starting pitchers In a season where the Phillies have gone through more than their share of injuries, hitting slumps and losing streaks, they have managed to do well enough to win 102 games.

“I think that when we lost eight in a row, I don’t think our players were panicking,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think we were at even keel, but also we knew it was time for us to get our best team on the field and get our pitchers out there and win some games before the playoffs started. I think that’s who we are, that’s the way we play and our team stays on an even keel.”

Perhaps for the first time all season, the Phillies will be fielding a team that will be healthy, something that they haven’t been all season and they’ve gone through dozens of injury depleted lineups. Manuel said his team will be in good shape just in time for the postseason.

“Healthwise, we’re in the best health we’ve been, I should say, all year long,” Manuel said.

In Spite of Apologies, Vick’s Comments Will Have Officials on Alert for Late Hits

28 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun

After venting his spleen about the lack of roughing the passer penalties he gets, Michael Vick took a day or two to think about to calm down his frustrations from getting knocked around by the New York G iants defense last weekend.

Vick, who is expecting to start on Sunday against San Francisco  despite  a bruised hand, backed off his comments and apologized during his Wednesday morning gathering with the media. He said he is not expecting to be treated different than any other quarterback.

“I don’t want any special attention. The only thing I want to do is go out and play my game,” Vick said. “Now if the refs feel like they need to make a call, they can make it. If not, I won’t say anything about it. Just control what I can control and that’s the most important thing.”

He even found a little humor in a New York Post headline, “Whine and Cheesesteak,” that pictured him with a baby’s bib.

“My kids was killing me about that, man,” Vick said chuckling with reporters. “That was a good one, but I guess when sit on a podium and make excuses like that, you’re going to be labeled a crybaby and so maybe I did deserve it.”

But even with his 1,000 apologies to fans through the media , I believe that there was some method to Vick’s madness whether he or the team wants to admit it or not. Yes , Vick opened himself for a little ridicule by saying he gets hit more than any other quarterback. Oddly enough, ESPN, on one of its 10, 000 reruns of Sportscenter earlier this week reported that only Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gets more hits more than Vick.

Shucks, you even had former player talking-head ESPN pundits like Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka saying that if Vick were Tom Brady or Peyton Manning he would get more of those roughing the passer calls. However, Brady and Manning aren’t running quarterbacks and they don’t have the ability to break out of a sack or the speed to go on a 30-yard jaunt.

But I do believe that the officials will pay close attention to how Vick gets hit when he stays in the pocket. Even though some people like Fox analyst Mike Pereira, who was a former vice president of officiating for the NFL, thinks that Vick is full of it, the referees are in a situation where they have to pay attention.

If Vick takes a big hit after he releases a pass and doesn’t get the call, you will have Vick supporters saying the referees aren’t making the call because of Vick’s complaints, but if the official does make the call, it will because of Vick’s complaints.

But the funny part about it is that Vick is not the only quarterback or coach to complain loudly about a QB getting too many late hits.

I remember back in 1996 in the collegiate ranks, then University of Florida head coach Steve Spurrier complained about the extra hits that his Heisman Trophy quarterback Danny Wuerffel was getting at the hands of the Florida State defense in a regular season game.

Spurrier made those complaints during the week leading up to their rematch with FSU in the national championship game and things got heated on both sides .

I suspect that Spurrier made those complaints to get FSU out of their game because the Gators blew out the Seminoles for the national championship and for good measure there was a late hit on Wuerffel called against Florida State.

Vick may have said he was singled out of frustration and maybe he was out of line for saying it, but you better believe that the officials will now be watching whether they want to or not because they want to be perceived as being unfair either.

“I’m not sure what they will do, but hopefully they will,” said running back LeSean McCoy. “Sometimes, you get hit late and I think they should make the call, but we have to do a better job of not letting him get hit.”

Vick Hurt Again in Eagles Agonizing Loss to the Giants

25 Sep

By Chris Murray

For The Chris Murray Report

For the second straight week, the Eagles ended the game without their starting quarterback and an inconsistent performance by their defense that looked downright awful at times and played well at other points in the game.

Coupled with the offenses inability to execute in short yardage situations and some curiously bad playcalling, the Eagles wound up on the short end of a disappointing 29-16 loss to the New York Giants in their home opener in front of 69, 144 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.

To top off a very frustraing afternoon, quarterback Michael Vick suffered another injury. He fracutured his right, non-throwing hand in the third quarter on a pass to Jeremy Maclin. He came back for one series in the fourth quarter but as his hand began to swell even further, he ended watching the rest of the game from the Eagles bench.

“I had no range of motion so it just got worse,” Vick said. “I think while the adrenaline was flowing, I was able to keep it going, but it’s tough when you’ve got to take the snap from center.”

If you’re looking for folks to blame in this game, you definitely have plenty of targets on both sides of the football and including the coaching staff.

On offense, Vick didn’t have his best game, completing 16-of-23 passes for 176 yards and one interception. In a game where the Eagles ran the ball well with LeSean “Shady” McCoy, who gained 128 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown, they did a poor job of executing in the redzone. The Eagles were 1-of-5 from the redzone. They also had the ball inside five-yard line twice, including three chances inside the one in third quarter.

Perhaps the Birds biggest failure on a short yardage situation came in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles leading 16-14, they had a fourth and one situation at the Giant 43. McCoy was stopped by Giants linebacker Michael Boley for a three-yard loss.

“You take it really personal,” said center Jason Kelce said. “On some plays, I thought we were really getting a good push and we just couldn’t get it in there. We get paid to do stuff like that and when we’re not getting the job done, it’s really frustrating.”

And when you don’t execute in that situation, head coach Andy Reid will ultimately get second-guessed for giving the Giants good field position and not electing to punt.

Sure enough, the Giants moved 54 yards in seven plays to the go-ahead score. The drive was capped by Eli Manning’s 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Victor Cruz, who caught three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

With Vick out of the game, Reid inexplicably went with third-string quarterback Mike Kafka instead of second-string signal Vince Young, who was healthy enough to play. To add to even more speculation from armchair quarterbacks, Kafka’s first play from scrimmage was a deep bomb to DeSean Jackson, who was double-covered. The  pass was intercepted by Aaron Ross.

The Giants scored another touchdown on their next possession to end the competitive portion of the game.

Defensively, the Eagles played well in spurts, but like last week in Atlanta, they gave up too many big plays. Three of Eli Manning’s four touchdown passes were on plays of 25 yards or more. This week, it wasn’t about the scheme, but a severe lack of execution. Most notably, poor tackling and allowing the Giants to turn minimal and medium sized gains into big plays.

On Manning’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Cruz late in the first quarter, he should have been stopped at the Giants 33 by free safety Kurt Coleman, who tried to tackle him high, but missed. Coleman then tried to hit Cruz from behind, but not only did he miss again but he also collided with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and took him out of the play.

“It’s all apart of making plays,” said linebacker Jamar Chaney. “When (Cruz) made those guys miss, he made a play. They made the plays when we didn’t.”

In the fourth quarter, Cruz’s 28-yard touchdown pass from Manning happened even though he was well-covered by Asomugha and strong safety Jarrad Paige. But Cruz, who is listed as six-feet tall, simply out leaped the two Eagles for the ball.

“We both got there at the same time, so one of us should have been able to make that play,” Asomugha said after the game. “It was disappointing that (Cruz) came away with it. It was frustrating.”




After Losing Five Straight, Phillies Searching for Momentum Coming into the Postseason

22 Sep

Ryan Howard and the Phillies hope to get their mojo back for their postseason run. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

If the Phillies win the World Series next month, we will probably look upon this current five-game losing streak, the longest home losing streak of the season, and laugh at the idea that it didn’t mean anything.

In reality, it doesn’t mean too much of anything to a Phillies team that has already wrapped up the National League East and will likely be the top-seed in the National League when the postseason kicks off next month.

But you have to wonder if clinching the division with 15 games left in the regular-season will take away any intensity from this team coming into the playoffs. Can they turn it on in October?

Y’all know what happened last year when this team ran into a hot San Francisco Giants team. The road to postseason ruin is paved with great teams like the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, the 1988 Oakland A’s and several others along the way that saw no parts of a World Series crown even though they had the best record in the game. It’s the hottest team coming into the playoffs that walks away with the trophy.

With the way this team hasn’t been hitting over the last five games, it does make you wonder if they can get their mojo back. In Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Washington Nationals, the first four batters in the Phillies lineup-Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and Chase Utley- finished 0-for-16 with two walks.

Granted, the Phillies were without Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence. Playing 33 games in 31 days has also taken its toll on the team as well. But Phillies Charlie Manuel has not been particularly happy with his team’s lackluster performance by any stretch of the imagination.

During the postgame press conference, I asked Charlie Manuel if it was better that this streak of losses was happening now than say next at some point next month. Of course, Manuel got a good chuckle out of it.

“I think if this was happening in October, I’d be packing my car,” Manuel said with a smile. “It’s not October, it’s an everyday game.”

But then Manuel got serious and talked about the importance of his team getting it going again for the remainder of the regular season and generating some mom. Through his tongue and cheek with reporters, Manuel you can’t throw off the switch and expect it to come back miraculously—not even a veteran playoff team like his can afford that luxury.

“You can’t ever think that you’re going to turn it on and off like you’re going to cruise and do what you want to do,” Manuel said. “Nahhh, I don’t work that way it all and that’s why you have to stay with it. It’s a repitition game over and over and you come and you work everyday.”

Manuel he doesn’t like to rest guys at this point in the season no more than one or two days because he doesn’t want them to lose their timing at the plate or their intensity at this point in the season.

“When he comes back he has to have some at-bats,” Manuel said. “The timing comes from the game. The greatest experience you can get is in the game and that’s where you get your timing.”

In the Phillies clubhouse, shortstop Jimmy Rollins in a rare confab with reporters said this five-game losing streak might be the reality check that they need to get themselves going again.

“You can put it that way,” Rollins said. “We know what’s going, I don’t think we needed to lose five games to feel that we need to kick it back in. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen and like I said when you get to a place that brings a different excitement and going into the lion’s den and you’re force to come together as a team and stand up for each other.”

The Phillies will end the regular season on the road against the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves, who will be fighting for a wildcard spot.

“It helps when another team is coming to get you, you find a way to turn it up,” Rollins said.

Vick’s Status For Giants Game is Day-To-Day: Trainer says Birds Signal Caller is Improving

21 Sep

Michael Vick Hopes to Play Against the Giants on Sunday. Photo by Jason McDonald of ILight Media.

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and The CM Report

By all accounts from players and coaches, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who sustained a concussion in Sunday night’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, appeared to be okay going through film sessions and the team’s Wednesday morning walk-through of the game plan.

All that said, it is still uncertain whether Vick will be under center for Sunday’s home opener against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. In fact, he did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Team trainer Rick Burkholder said while Vick is not displaying any visible symptoms of a concussion other than a sore neck and a sore jaw, there are still several tests Vick has to undergo to make sure he is able to play on day.

Accoring to Burkholder, Vick is being evaluated for how he interacts in meetings and how he deals with physical exertion and balance. He said everyone from head coach Andy Reid to this teammates and team doctors are observing Vick his how interacts with people on a daily basis.

“I’ll you right now he’s right in the middle of the process right where we expected him to be and everything is progressing,” Burkholder said. “We’re not going to push him ahead of where we think the process goes. We’re not going to judge it right now. … He’s doing fine right now.”

Burkholder said Vick had an MRI of his brain on Monday that came up negative. He said Vick will be examined by an independent neurologist and the team’s doctors later this week before he can be cleared to play.

“Just because he doesn’t have symptoms today doesn’t mean that he doesn’t wake up with symptoms tomorrow,” Burkholder said. “That’s the process throughout the league and the process with anybody. I don’t ancitpate that (Vick developing concussion symptoms). This is a constant monitoring situation that will go up to game time.”

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson went through a similar situation as Vick is going through right now when he had a mild concussion from a vicious hit to the helmet he took from Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson in a regular-season game last season.

“Before I went out to practice I heard Rick (Burkeholder) saying some things to him about he did pretty good on his tests,” Jackson said. “That’s signs that he’s improving and he’s getting better. As long as everyday he’s improving, (Vick) sat in meetings today. I dont’ think it’s too serious, it’s probably a mild concussion. Hopefully, we’ll have him by Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Reid will have his two-backup quarterbacks Vince Young, who is recoveing from a hamstring injury, and third string quarterback Mike Kafka, who played in Sunday’s game, ready to work with the first-string offense.

“We’re pretty fortunate to have three guys who we feel comfortable with that could play in the game,” Reid said. “My message to all of them is get ready accordingly and then as we go through this process, it takes place, it will clear itself out and we go play the game. We’ve got other things. We’ve got the Giants. The coaches and the rest of the team has to get ready to play the Giants.”

If Vince Young is healed from his hamstring injury, Reid will probably start him if Vick’s is not ready to go. Young practiced with the team on Wednesday and when asked if he would be ready to go, he said, “I feel great.” In the event that Young is not ready to go, Kafka will be a on hand for the Eagles. He said he’s ready to go, if called upon.

“I just have to prepare the best I can and just spend time on having a good week of practice,” Kafka said as dozens of reporters with cameras and microphones converged on his locker. “Since I’ve got here, you have to prepare to same way as if you’re the starter.”

Meanwhile, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is preparing for Sunday’s game as if Vick is going to be the starting for the Eagles.

“I always hold the position that Michael Vick will start and we will prepare as diligently as we can and refine as it goes along. That’s basically how we would operate,” Coughlin said during a conference call with the Philadelphia media. “If Michael Vick can possibly play, he will play.”

Shooting Themselves in the Foot: Eagles let one slip away in the ATL

19 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the CM Report

ATLANTA-The Eagles players and coaching staff will go to their Nova Care practice facility Monday morning, review the film, look at the game stats and shake their heads and wonder how they wound up on the short end of a 35-31 loss to the Falcons.

“It’s frustrating to lose when we should have won, let me put it that way,” said rookie center Jason Kelce.

The Birds outgained Atlanta and rolled up 447 yards of total offense and the defense sacked Matt Ryan four times and intercepted him twice. On the surface, it looks like the numbers for the team that won the game.

But when you make as many mistakes on both sides of the ball as the Eagles did and then lose your $100 million quarterback because of a concussion, this will be the likely outcome.

“We didn’t help our cause at all,” said right tackle Todd Herremans. “We did some good things and we obviously did some bad things that we need to work on, but life goes on we got another game to ready for.”

Michael Vick’s triumphant return to Atlanta had its good moments and its awful moments. Before he left the game with a concussion with three minutes left in the third quarter, he completed 19-of-28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. But he committed three turnovers—two fumbles and an interception on the Bird’s first play of the third quarter. Two led to Falcons touchdowns to give them a 21-10 lead in the third quarter..

Undaunted, Vick got the Eagles back in the game by leading two scoring drives that put the Eagles 24-21—a 36 yard-touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin and an eight-yard run by LeSean McCoy (18 carries, 95 yards and two Tds).

“He’s a competitor, he’s a proven competitor and a great player,” Kelce said. “When a guy is able to lead you like that especially coming out of the half when were a little down, it picks you up just watching a guy play like he does.”

Late in the third quarter, the Eagles faced a third and eight at the Falcons 18-yard line. Vick hit Maclin for a nine-yard completion to the nine. After he let the ball go, Vick was hit by a Falcons lineman and his helmet collided with Herremans’s helmet.

“It was the second hit that fazed him,” Kelce said.

The Eagles, now led by third string quarterback Mike Kafka (7-of-9 for 72 yards), eventually scored on that drive to give the Birds a 31-21 lead.

With the exception of a couple short Falcons drives for touchdown, the Eagles seemed to be in control of the Falcons offense. But in the fourth quarter, the defense just fell apart and allowed two long touchdown drives.

On that first drive, Ryan, thanks to passes to veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, (seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdwns), moved the Falcons to the touchdown that cut the Eagles lead to three. The drive was culminated by a one-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Ovie Mughelli.

With Vick out of the game, the Eagles offense went three and out, giving the Falcons another scoring opportunity.

Pinned down in their own terrritory at the 13 because of a penalty, Falcons running back Michael Turner trucked his way through a stunned Eagles defense for a 61-yard gain to the Eagles 26-yard line. Five plays later, the Falcons scored go-ahead touchdown by Turner on a three-yard run with under five minutes.

“It was real difficult to lose like that, especially late in the game,” said Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. “That’s supposed to be a win. You’re supposed to hold on to that because that’s what good teams do. It goes to show you that we got a lot of improving to do. You know we got to get that killer instinct when we get a team down, we put them away. We definitely had the opportunity, but we didn’t do it.”

Led by Kafka, the Eagles drove from their own nine down to the Falcons 22. On fourth and four, Kafka found a wide open Maclin, who caught 13 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, at the 15-yard line, but he dropped the ball. With all his great stats, the one that got away from him made everything seem for naught.

“None of that really matters,” Maclin said of his dropped pass on the Eagles final play. “I know I’m better than that.”

That’s  probably what the Eagles are saying to themselves now.

Still his House: Atlanta Fans Show their Appreciation for Michael Vick

19 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun

and CM Report

ATLANTA–If you want to get an idea of the affection that Atlanta Falcons have for Michael Vick,

Tomika Barnes of Atlanta says she has nothing but love for Michael Vick

all you have to do is look throughout the Georgia Dome at all the high-fiving by Falcons fans after Jeremy Maclin caught the game-tying touchdown pass from Vick early in the second quarter.

During the pre-game warmups, fans clad red in No. 7 Falcons jerseys with Vick’s name on the back sitting in the endzone of the Georgia Dome cheered the former Falcon as he was running across the field with the 1980s Phil Collins tune, “In the Air at Night,” blared loudly through the arena’s sound system.

Unfortunately for Vick and the Eagles, the Falcons came away with a 35-31 come-from-behind win in a game that Vick would not finish because of a concussion.

For three quarters, Vick dazzled fans with his ability by using both his arm and his running ability. But he also had his share of foibles with a pair of fumbles and an interception that led to 14 points and gave the Falcons a 21-10 lead early in third quarter.

Vick managed to overcome mistakes and led the Eagles to pair of touchdowns to put them back in the lead. Just when Vick was leading them to a 10-point lead late in the third quarter before he left the game two plays before the Eagles took a 31-21 lead on a two-yard LeSean McCoy touchdown run.

For the game, Vick completed 18-of-28 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Earlier in the afternoon in the tailgate lots outside the Georgia Dome, there were Atlanta Falcons fans donning Vick’s Falcons jersey and some even wore his new Eagles jersey. Walking around the tailgate areas, it was apparent that Vick is still a hero to Atlantans even wearing the Eagles green and white colors.

Even with Vick’s arrest, conviction and jail time spent in a federal penitentiary for being involved in a dogfighting ring, Atlanta fans welcomed Vick as the proverbial prodical son returning home as a conquering hero who came back from the abyss of his own shortcomings.

Tomika Barnes, 41, of Atlanta expressed her enthusiasm for Vick with a dark green tee-shirt with loud white letters that read, “Mike was no nice…They had to pay it to him TWICE. $100 million” She said there is no shortage of love for the Eagles starting quarterback, especially among African-American fans .

“He still got the love, the feeling, all of that is still there ,” Barnes said. “He’s just moved on.You got a lot of Falcons fans that still represent No. 7. No. 7 was always Michael Vick, still is Michael Vick. Some can’t afford the Philadelphia Eagles jersey, but they are representing No. 7.”

Most of Vick’s supporters refer to the Georgia Dome as “the House Vick Built” They say he was the reason Falcons flocked to the arena in droves and sold the building out on a consistent basis from 2001 to 2006.

“As far as the Atlanta Falcons, he made this team what it is right now as far as the support, the fans and this dome filling up on Sunday,” said 35-year-old Atlanta resident Chris Battle. “As I recall when I was younger the game wouldn’t even come on (TV) locally because they didn’t sell enough tickets. When Vick came to this city, these games sold out. The revenue that he brought to this dome and the respect we have for him as an athlete means a lot.”

Battle said when Vick played with the Eagles in Atlanta as a backup in 2009, the fans wore all kinds of teeshirts welcoming him back. He said there are many African-Americans in Atlanta who understand Vick’s background and can relate to him going through a difficult situation.

“This is a guy who come from fighting dogs in the street and living in the projects who got in trouble and was able to make it back,” Battle said.

But not all Falcons fans had warm feelings for Vick.

Earl Reed, 59 of Southwest Atlanta was wearing a white No. 7 Jersey with the words, “Federal Penal League on the front. On the back, the words in all caps, “INMATE” was on top of the “7.” He said he will never forgive Vick for his cruelty to animals.

“To me, he’s the lowest creature on the earth,” Reed said. “Lying to the fans, the public and animal cruelty is unacceptable. I don’t care if he spent 30 years in prison that’s no excuse.”

Kevin Johnson, 32, was selling red and black tee-shirts that read, “Boo Mike Vick.” He said he likes Vick and rooted for him when he wore a Falcons uniform, but not to the point to where he would root against his beloved Falcons.

“I support him when he’s not playing my home team,” Johnson said. “He can be Michael Vick every 15 weeks, but when he’s playing against the home team, it’s about the home team. We won the division last year.”

Melvin Prease of Atlanta said Vick meant a lot to the city of AtlantaTeeshirt salesman Kevin Johnson says it's time for Atlantans to move on from Vick

Vick jerseys were all over the Georgia Dome on Sunday