We all know President Obama supports his beloved Chicago sports teams, including da Bears. But the president spread some love Philadelphia's way recently when he thanked Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving Michael Vick a second chance following the star quarterback's release from jail last year on an animal cruelty conviction.
On his Sports Illustrated blog
, writer Peter King said Lurie told him the president said, " 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.' [Obama] was . . . passionate about it. He said it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall."
Lurie also told King that the president was proud of the football team's plans to install alternative-energy measures at Lincoln Financial Field, including solar panels and wind turbines.
The team's website
also made note of the call from the First Fan:
Obama also conveyed his pleasure with the Eagles' plans for the first fully self-generated alternative-energy stadium in the country.
"It's good business for us, which is the point,'' Lurie told King. "We talked about policy and what he hopes can happen with alternative energy, and he raved about us being the first to put a plan like this in place."
King related the same story about the president's call Sunday night on NBC, which had been scheduled to broadcast the Eagles' game against the Minnesota Vikings. Because of a major snowstorm that hit the area, the game was postponed until Tuesday.
Michael Vick, a celebrated talent since his college days at Virginia Tech, quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons until he was charged with, and eventually convicted of, running and participating in a dogfighting ring. After serving 19 months in federal prison, his career and his reputation were in tatters. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles last season and played sparingly -- and unspectacularly. This season he has returned to old form, guiding his team to the NFC East championship and hearing his name mentioned often as a candidate for league MVP.
After initial protests from animal-rights groups about Vick's return to the lucrative world of pro football, the hubbub has largely died down. Commenting on the conversation with Lurie, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president "of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of, but, as he's said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again."