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Vick’s Return Wasn’t Big News

While his case was as high-profile and offbeat as they come, turns out Michael Vick's regular-season NFL return isn't so special after all.

Before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, TV and radio sports talk were filled with variations on the idea the NFL and any team that signed Vick were risking big backlash from big fan protests outside stadiums and boos inside them as well as tut-tutting from media naysayers.

Hardly.

By the time Vick took the field for 11 plays Sunday, he once again proved the NFL axiom: If you can play, you're pretty much good to go.

As NBC's Keith Olbermann put it about any potential negativity surrounding Vick's return, "nothing happened." Said Vick, after the game: "The atmosphere was great."

On TV, he was cheered. Said ESPN's Tom Jackson Sunday: "His strength is (saying), 'I'm a better athlete than anybody else on the field.' . . . You've got to figure out how to get him on the field." And why not? As ESPN's Mike Ditka suggested, "I believe Michael Vick is one of best football players in the National Football League."

On-air Sunday, it was all just about as simple as that. The few exceptions included Fox's Terry Bradshaw noting Vick had recently referred to himself as "Superman" and counseled, "Don't ever say 'Superman' again. Don't ever reference 'me' or 'I' again because it's all about team." And Frank Caliendo, the comic on Fox's pregame show, had this tweak about Vick finally getting back on the field: "I hope someone doesn't slip and say, 'Welcome back, dawg.' "

CBS' Boomer Esiason said on-air that Vick could be an NFL starter right now for at least five teams. And, he predicted that while Vick won't return to the Eagles next year because the team would have to raise his salary to $5 million, Vick will be a starter somewhere next in 2010.

In an off-air interview Sunday, Esiason suggested it's too bad Vick isn't playing full time now: "He has every right to getting a second chance in his vocation. . . . He'd be so much more entertaining than watching some of the quarterbacks that we're watching."

Esiason notes Vick has helped himself by his attitude. In an interview on the NFL Network Sunday, Vick said his imprisonment "was definitely a blessing" and he "wouldn't change a thing." Said Vick, in a CBS interview: "My future is bright, you know."

Next year, says Esiason, whichever team signs Vick "won't have to deal with all the negativity in signing him." But it turns out all that supposed negativity this year wasn't much of a big deal anyway.

On the NFL Network Sunday, Jacksonville Jaguar Maurice Jones-Drew@ wasn't talking about Vick, but he may as well have been: "In this league, your body is your résumé."

Fox's Howie Long, noting Fox Sports President Ed Goren likes the phrase "it's hitting season," said he wants "the names and numbers (of players) you've hit, Ed." So much for Long's primo Fox parking spot. . . . Recent back-and-forth Twitter trash talk between NBC NFL studio analyst Rodney Harrison@ and New York Jet Kerry Rhodes was colorful in a sort of pro wrestling manner. And about as authentic. NBC spokesman Brian Walker says Harrison doesn't know how to Twitter and the anonymous-online Harrison has taken down the page. Fun while it lasted. . . . CBS lead NFL announcer Jim Nantz@ smashed concrete blocks with his bare hands on TV Sunday after Indianapolis' Peyton Manning@ told him to "channel the dragon" in a Sony ad. Who knew that really works? . . . Golf Channel's Rich Lerner, on Tiger Woods playing hard although he's made lots and lots of money: He "competes like he's broke, like he's the hungriest man on the planet." Actually, Earth's hungriest man probably wouldn't be able to play golf very well.

The Oakland Raiders had hoped to ban CBS analyst and ex-Raider quarterback Rich Gannon, calling Sunday's Denver Broncos-Oakland game, from dropping by their practice facility - but had to give in because rules allow network TV crews to meet with teams before games. Raiders spokesman John Herrera told the Associated Press: "He continually attacks the organization in every way he can. After listening to that for the last several years, why would you want him in your building when all he does is attack the organization?" Well, at least he's not a homer for his old team.

NBA.com, for the first time, will offer live video of training camp practices, starting with the Denver Nuggets (at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday), followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (Thursday), Boston Celtics (Saturday), Washington Wizards (Oct. 5) and Atlanta Hawks (Oct. 6). Finally, you can watch three-man weaves at work.

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