Vick Gets What He Deserves

Vick Gets What He Deserves

Six years, $100 million, $36 guaranteed.

HUGE.

Fair.

There are no shortage of people out there today to take their shot at Michael Vick's brand new mega-deal, "too much" and "too long" being the general themes. "Big risks" and "old temptations" aside, the contract is actually just right.

The concerns, for the most part, are valid. Vick the player and Vick the person are both something of an enigma. We don't know if he can play under control enough to stay healthy and lead the Eagles to a championship, and we can only speculate what goes on in the mind of one of the most polarizing celebrities on earth.

There is one easy truth to understand though, and that is Vick is Philadelphia's franchise quarterback. Whether it's money, or years, or the lack of an escape plan you are having trouble swallowing, realize that a deal of this magnitude was inevitable from the moment they chose Vick over Kevin Kolb.

Money
There is positively no point debating the money. Vick deserves every penny he got, including the hefty guarantee.

According to Roob's breakdown, the yearly average makes Vick the third highest highest paid quarterback in the NFL, behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Sounds about right for the runner-up for league MVP. It's also roughly what he would have earned in 2011 under the franchise tag.

More to the point, this is the way business goes in professional sports. As long as revenues continue rising, so too will the money paid out. The next guy is going to get more cash, and a bigger guarantee, then the next guy, and so on until the bubble bursts.

And when you weigh in the bargain price the Eagles had Vick at last season--an absolute steal at $5 million--he was in line for a payday that reflected how he thoroughly outperformed his old contract.

Is it ideal? Of course not, but I doubt the Colts think what they are paying Peyton is ideal either.

[See Also: How Much of Vick's Cash Will He Actually Get to Keep?]

Years
What everybody seems to be hung up on are the six years, which frankly surprises me. Did the world collectively forget the duration of NFL contracts are not guaranteed?

Not unlike the vast sums of money they are paying him, the Eagles were not going to get away with another short term contract. Vick has an agent and plenty of leverage. Just because there are obvious pitfalls at his age, and especially due to his style of play, does not mean he was going to settle for anything less than the standard for a franchise quarterback.

If that were the case, everybody in the NFL would be playing on one-year deals, since any of their careers could be over today.

Plus, we have yet to see how the contract is structured. Considering the way the Eagles ordinarily do business, it would be fair to assume they have some protection on the back end. They have been expert at the negotiation table for over a decade, and always wind up owning the upper hand in the final years of virtually every deal.

There is one risk though, and it has little to do with Vick being 31, or how injury prone he is. The real issue is Vick still has not proven he is the guy that can finally push this franchise over the top. There are faults in his game. If he can correct them, he could be unstoppable. If he never takes the next step, it could be a long time before Philly has a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Conduct
I feel like this is barely worth touching on, but it is out there, so we will address it.

People act as though Vick might turn around and resume slaughtering dogs now that he is set. I find that line of thinking quite bizarre.

I don't know Mike Vick. I don't pretend to know whether his efforts to change are sincere or not. I am also aware his troubled past goes beyond the dog fighting operation. At that stage of his life, he had surrounded himself with many characters of ill repute, and the result was scandal seemed to follow Vick wherever he went.

It was only last summer when an incident ended with a shooting at his birthday party.

My opinion is that he would have to be pretty stupid to get involved in the type of situation that would jeopardize his entire career, the type that would be handled under a "conduct clause." It makes zero sense. You may not like or trust the guy, but after everything he has been through... really?

Value
Here is the point I think everybody is missing: Michael Vick isn't just a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles--he is a brand.

When Vick joined the team in August of '09, fans were buying number seven merchandise the very next day. When he became the starting quarterback last September, legions of Vick backers embraced rooting for the Birds. Today, you can hardly tune in to ESPN without seeing Vick's image plastered on your computer monitor or television set.

Few players in professional sports are more instantly recognizable; even fewer, if any, are more popular. He gives the Eagles franchise unprecedented reach and visibility on a national scale, precisely the sort every organization desperately craves.

Translation: $$$.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if Vick is overpaid (he isn't) or if his contract is too long (it's not). The simple fact is his presence gives the organization the ability to print money, and while I don't agree with the notion that money is the only thing Jeffrey Lurie really cares about, it certainly does not hurt.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.