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First Down: Welcome to the circus

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 16, 2009

The circus returns... for good

When Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau found out his team would play Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the playoffs, he said, "Welcome to the circus."

Replay the sound bite and blast it over the airwaves in Philadelphia. With the Eagles' signing of Michael Vick, the organization has invited the elephants and lions of Barnum & Bailey to stay all season.

The protests from animal lovers -- this is a dog-loving country, so these aren't your run-of-the-mill, holier-than-thou protesters -- will be ever-present. As an interesting aside, Phillies star Chase Utley and his wife are famous for their dog-related charity work.

Yeah, this should work out well.

Then there are the questions. Donovan McNabb will have to answer them from reporters all over the country from now until either he or Vick is no longer with the Eagles. Coach Andy Reid, always a lover of interviews and questions, will have to answer them, too.

And he thought Terrell Owens was a distraction. Owens was Michael Vick Lite. T.O. was a head case with a big ego -- he didn't go to jail for running a dogfighting ring. He didn't admit he had killed dogs.

Sure, Vick has said the right things since admitting guilt and serving his time. And he does deserve the inalienable right to earn a living. But for this team, with championship aspirations, to provide Vick's second chance, makes little sense.

If a Super Bowl follows, Reid and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie -- an "extreme dog lover" -- will bask in glory because in sports, results matter. But in life, they will forever be known for selling their souls to make this leap of faith. That price outweighs even a title.

Oh, and if this winds up being an unholy distraction? The team deserves every minute of that, too.

Come one, come all to the greatest show on earth. Let the circus begin.

HE SAID WHAT?

"It is symbolic. But it is, we think, a very important initiative." -- American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff on the newly implemented pregame handshake in college football