Amid rampant reports and rumblings that Eagles quarterback Mike Vick believes the team is using his concussions as an excuse to keep him on ice while the team tries out younger players, the Eagles have issued a statement from Vick.
But the statement omits any clear statement from Vick that he believes the Eagles aren’t putting a thumb on the concussion assessment scale.
“I want to thank my fans for the thousands of well wishes,” Vick says. “I also appreciate the support of the entire Eagles organization. I feel strong and healthy. As a professional athlete, I want to play in every game but the NFL has a specific protocol to protect players. My focus is to complete this process successfully, so I can rejoin my team on the field.”
Earlier in the day, coach Andy Reid addressed more specifically the question of whether politics are keeping Vick on ice.
“[T]here’s nothing to that,” Reid told reporters. “I’ve talked with Michael and Michael is good. I don’t know where things get started but Michael is fine with it. He understands that everything is in the best interest of him right now and making sure that he’s ready to go.”
Reid also essentially said that, when Vick is cleared to play, he will. “Michael is the quarterback of this team,” Reid said. “That’s how I’ve approached it from the get go. I’ve told you guys that. Until I tell you guys differently, that’s how I feel. Michael understands that so that’s the important thing. I just want to make sure there’s open communication between us.”
Trainer Rick Burkholder said that reports Vick have regressed aren’t true, but that Vick has plateaued in his recovery. Burkholder also disputed the suggestion that the concussion is being used as a way to justify not playing Vick; “There’s no conspiracy here,” Burkholder said.
Still, the suspicion has been present from the outset that Vick isn’t injured as badly as advertised, and that the concussion allowed the Eagles to bench him without actually benching him. From Vick’s perspective, not playing makes it hard to persuade other teams that he deserves a starting job and the contract that goes along with it after the Eagles inevitably cut him in the offseason, avoiding a $15.5 million salary for 2013.
And even if the Eagles aren’t fudging the concussion assessment results (indeed, there’s no evidence that they are), there’s a good chance they’re privately pleased with the situation, since it allows them to give Nick Foles extended reps and development. As Reid said Friday regarding the decision to cut defensive end Jason Babin, “It gives some of our young players, who I think deserve the right and can help us win football games, the opportunity to play.”
That same reasoning applies to Foles. Even though he has yet to help them do anything other than lose football games.