Mike Vick, Leader

Mike Vick, Leader

While a pair of extensions to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement are cause for optimism that a new deal can be reached, the Eagles' signal caller is still preparing for the worst. Mike Vick, who signed his one-year franchise tender on Wednesday, has a contingency plan in the event of a lockout: he'll organize his own workouts.

"Wherever we agree to be collectively. It may be Florida, it may be Hawaii. We'll get our work in," Vick said. "Being on the same page, timing, which is very important. I think everybody has to be on one accord, all thinking the same. Practice and film study are important, but just familiarizing ourselves with each other, that's going to be big for us."

One of the primary concerns with an extended lockout is the absence of off-season workouts, possibly even a shortened training camp and preseason. Those programs are especially important to new and developing players, such as free agent acquisitions, the incoming class of rookies, and the slew of second-year players already on the roster.

Many view the upcoming camps as vital to Vick's growth as well. This is the first off-season he enters as a starting quarterback since returning to the league.

Vick had an abbreviated summer in 2009, joining the team after they had already played their first preseason game. Last year he worked behind Kevin Kolb, who took the bulk of the snaps and coaches' instruction in practice. And while Kolb was gaining rapport with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Vick was throwing passes to Chad Hall and Jordan Norwood.

This being Vick's third year in Andy Reid's system, he's expected to take the proverbial next step. Obviously, there is no replacing the environment at Lehigh or the NovaCare Complex, but any progress in lieu of that structure would be welcome.

Maybe most important at all, this is another sign that Vick "gets it." Not that there were any doubts about his new and improved work ethic or desire to win, but now he's going above and beyond the call of duty. Privately organized workouts are not entirely unusual—Donovan McNabb routinely invited the wide receivers to his home in Arizona—but it serves as yet another example of Vick's maturity.

Thankfully, it may not come to this.

While it's still anybody's guess whether owners can settle their differences with the players union in the next week, the fact that they extended the deadline at all is a sign negotiations are at least serious. Funny... as soon as the ruling came down that owners violated the current CBA and may not receive money from their television contracts during a lockout, suddenly they seem very motivated to get a deal completed.

>> Vick: Long-term pact depends on 'actions'on and off the field' [NFL.com]
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Conspiracy charge added for 3 former Penn State administrators

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Conspiracy charge added for 3 former Penn State administrators

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday allowed prosecutors to add a conspiracy charge against three former Penn State administrators, increasing their possible penalty if convicted of crimes for their handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Judge John Boccabella granted a request by the attorney general's office to tack on a related conspiracy count to the charges of endangering the welfare of children.

Prosecutors said each felony count carries up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Jury selection is scheduled for March 20 in Harrisburg in the case of former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley.

The defendants sought permission last week from Boccabella for an appeal that could delay the trial. The judge has not ruled on that request.

They argue Boccabella erred when he declined to dismiss the child-welfare charges, arguing the statute of limitations expired, the defendants did not provide direct care for children and they are charged with actions that occurred before the law was revised.

Earlier this month, the judge dismissed charges of failing to properly report suspected abuse, and last year the Superior Court threw out perjury, obstruction and conspiracy charges.

The three administrators fielded a complaint in 2001 from a graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky, then retired as an assistant football coach, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.

They did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities, but did tell Sandusky he could no longer bring children to the campus and they notified his charity for children, The Second Mile.

Sandusky currently is serving a lengthy state prison term after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys.

Last week, a new judge appointed to preside over his appeals under the state's Post-Conviction Relief Act scheduled a March 24 hearing at the courthouse near State College to "present and finalize the evidentiary portion" of the hearing.

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have released their Wall of Fame ballot for 2017 and Pete Rose is on it for the first time.

Baseball’s all-time hits king joins Steve Bedrosian, Larry Christensen, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Placido Polanco, Ron Reed, Scott Rolen, Manny Trillo and Rick Wise on the ballot.

The Phillies had to receive permission from commissioner Rob Manfred to include Rose on the ballot. Rose was placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list in 1989 after he admitted to wagering on baseball during his time as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. The ban precludes him from appearing on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Rose is still on the ineligible list, but Manfred has shown some leniency in recent years and Rose has been able to participate in some ceremonies. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame last summer. 

Rose was one of the stars on the Reds’ Big Red Machine, a club that won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976. He came to the Phillies as a free agent before the 1979 season. He spent five years with the Phils and his leadership was considered key in getting a talented team over the top on its way to winning the 1980 World Series. 

The Phillies’ Wall of Fame ceremony will take place Aug. 12 at Citizens Bank Park. 

Fans have a voice in the voting, which is has begun on the team’s website -- www.Phillies.com. Fans can select their top three choices and the five finalists will serve as the official ballot for a special Wall of Fame selection committee.