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Andy Reid's main concern for Michael Vick must be QB's health

In dealing with his latest quarterback conundrum, Eagles coach Andy Reid has to follow the lead of an unlikely person.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick suffered a concussion against the Cowboys. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick suffered a concussion against the Cowboys. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

In dealing with his latest quarterback conundrum, Eagles coach Andy Reid has to follow the lead of an unlikely person.

Marcus Vick.

That doesn't mean Reid should trade Michael Vick, as Vick's younger brother implored in a Twitter rant during the seven-sack debacle in New Orleans. That tweet got all the attention. Everyone overlooked this one:

"I don't want to see brother with brain problems by the time he 45. Everybody have a job to do so do it. They all professionals"

In answering questions about his quarterbacks Monday afternoon, Reid was like a (not especially graceful) ballet dancer in a minefield. He knew any misstep could blow up in his face. He tried to convey that Vick remains the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart while acknowledging that his concussion appeared serious enough to keep him from playing Sunday at Washington. Meanwhile, he had to pirouette a la seconde to avoid overcommitting to Nick Foles.

Tough maneuver.

But Reid is mistaken, at this point, if he thinks loyalty to Vick means putting him back out on the field the moment he passes the NFL concussion protocol. True loyalty to the man who has bounced back from every other beating this season means this: being extra careful with Vick's recovery from what Reid termed a "pretty significant" concussion.

Reid and his staff have erred in any number of ways this season. Erring on the side of caution here is the only way to go.

Look, I have not been accused of being a huge Vick fan. I was stunned and appalled when the Eagles signed him and have not been that impressed by his performance on the field much of the time. But he's a human being who just suffered a brain injury. Minimizing the long-term damage should be Reid's only concern here.

Call Chris Pronger or Keith Primeau. Ask either of these truly tough athletes whether they wish they'd stopped before that last concussion.

The scariest thing was the way this happened. Vick fell backward after being blitzed by Cowboys linebacker Ernie Sims. The back of his head struck the ground. It did not look like the kind of blow that would cause a major injury - an observation based not on my credentials as a neurologist but as one who has witnessed far too many head injuries in football and hockey.

The people who are qualified to analyze these things say concussions come more easily after multiple injuries. So everyone involved here has to approach Vick as if his career is at stake - not for football reasons, but for medical ones.

As it happens, that also gives Reid a very good reason to play Foles against Washington and beyond. He doesn't have to worry he's sending the message that he has given up on 2012. That was a legitimate concern as recently as two weeks ago.

Now it isn't, and not just because of concern for Vick's health.

Who would that message disturb? Coming out of the bye week, you worried that veteran players would let down if they perceived a shift from trying to win now to building for the future. But after three more losses, it is clear they already have let down.

By playing the rookie QB, Reid isn't wasting a precious season of the careers of Nnamdi Asomugha or Jason Babin or Brent Celek or DeMeco Ryans. This season is already gone, and they all had a hand in that. Their motivation for the rest of the season is to prove to a potential new coaching staff that they deserve to be here in 2013.

As for Reid, his own prospects for 2013 can't factor into his decision-making. It is better for the Eagles organization, long term, to find out about Foles. After all these years and all the money he's been paid, Reid owes the franchise that much.

He may look better if Vick comes back and squeezes another win or two out of this broken season. But if he allows that concern to outweigh the risk to Vick, then Reid will have lost a lot more than a job here.