Let me offer an olive branch, and a potential silver lining, with regards to Vick's reputation, the animal abuses, and the social/cultural implications of the whole mess that he was responsible for.
We don't need to go through the felonies Vick was charged with, pleaded to, and convicted for, and we don't need to have a lick of a debate on how brutally disgusting his offenses were, and how all animal abuses of this nature are. If you're reading this, I am confident we're all in agreement on that subject. If you're not aware of how sick, criminal, and brutal the type of animal abuses are that Vick was involved in and punished for, then you are ignorant, and have a lot to learn.
Is it possible, in this vein, that Michael Vick can actually help, moving forward, with educating people who are truly ignorant about this; people who are dumb enough - like he was - to think there isn’t much wrong with raising, breeding, housing and pitting dogs against each other in fatal contests, and killing/torturing them along the way?
I don't know what type, if any, community service he had to partake in (his prison term was 18 months, before being released to house arrest); I heard mixed things, but with no researching, I can't say for sure. If I were him, or his agent, PETA, another animal rights group (or heck, Andy Reid, or any other concerned citizen for that matter), I would demand he take this opportunity, moving forward, to talk about what he's learned, to the kids in the communities throughout this country, who don't view his crimes as 'real' crimes. I can assure you, that while there may be plenty of kids in deep corners of various big cities and regions throughout the country who know that dogfighting and Vick-like operations, are crimes, many don't know how cruel, despicable, bad, and unacceptable that conduct really is. And none of them know what the consequences are of those decisions and that lifestyle, like Vick does. (If anyone knows anything about Vick already heading down this road, or has already done community service of this nature, please enlighten me).
There are a millions of kids who grow up not knowing what's really right from what's really wrong in this country. Millions who grew up without parents or role models to speak of. People just like Vick. He learned. Maybe he can enlighten these folks, like lots of other role models have, who fell from grace in not-to-dissimilar horrific or criminal ways; I don't know - trying to find something good in all this.
If nothing else, Vick's high profile case shined a light on a sub-culture that is more widespread than most people realized, and brought much-needed attention to it. I have heard that since the crimes were exposed, several states and jurisdictions have looked at their animal abuse statutes and sentencing guidelines (and the related organized crimes that go with them), and increased both their enforcement, as well as their resources, to both prosecute and investigate these crimes. I would be willing to bet there are less of these types of abuses taking place nationwide now, than there were before Vick's ring was exposed. If Vick could go the extra mile with his efforts to make kids in inner-cities/backwoods/wherever, aware of the ethical and moral implications with this criminal behavior, he would not only start to genuinely undo the damage he has done, but continue to keep these abuses in the spotlight, thereby making the fight to end this bullshit a lot easier.
Regarding his on the field implications, signing, etc....I'm not sure what the Eagles have in mind for him, where he'll fit in with the team, or if I even like the pick-up from a pure football perspective, But I do know this.
Vick is a great football player. The last time he played - 2006 - he rushed for 1,039 yards, and he passed for 2,474 yards. That's 3,513 yards total, along with 22 TD's. On a team with a below average WR corps, and a system that didn't play to his abilities as much as it could have.
If Vick is gonna be our 2nd string/back up QB, we could do a lot worse. But he's not gonna be. He's potentially suspended for the first six games of the season (as per the NFL commissioner, who hasn’t decided yet, whether to let him play week #1 or not), and he doesn't have a clue about how our mutated, bastardized version of a west coast offense, and unnecessarily-complex "offensive scheme" works. AJ Feely, our current third-string QB, will move into second (w/ Kevin Kolb's injury), and will be a more than adequate backup if needed. This would make Vick our third string. Without question, he's the best 3rd string QB in the league.
Here's how he'll be used. Wait, let me rephrase that. Here’s how he SHOULD be used: In any combination of the following, trick plays, decoys, kick returns, one-and-done-until-following-quarter quarterbacking, punt returns, running back, WR, unique formations, etc. In THIS vein, he can be phenomenal, because he is terribly fast, and an incredible, pure athlete (If he didn’t lose too much, the last few years, not playing).
We got him for peanuts. As I understand it, it's a 2-year deal, w/ $1.6mil the first year, and an option for $5.2mil the second year. I don't know this to be true, but the option on the second deal is entirely up to the Birds. The $1.6mil he's getting for the first year isn't much more than the league minimum can be these days. We may end up just paying the league minimum for a year. Peanuts.
If I HAD to predict if this signing helps or hurts the Eagles, I would guess it helps more than it hurts. But if it ends up hurting the team, whatev. Nothing compares to the hurt Andy Reid himself inflicts on this team, with his all-too-frequent poor coaching and GM decisions (although he did engineer his best off-season in 11 years this past off-season).