All of those cameras surrounded Michael Vick and hoped he would say something, anything, so they could blow the story up out of the NovaCare Complex and into the blogasphere ...
So what did Vick do? He's there, after practice, with about 15 cameras and a couple of dozen reporters around him and he clearly knows what the reporters want. They want some gristle. They want something to do into and run with for a couple of days.
I mean, ESPN was there, both on the dot com side and the television side. All of the Philadelphia TV stations and newspapers. Oh, it was a frenzied media gathering and all of this, mind you, for a day that was just like any other day for the last three weeks: Practice with the players wearing helmets, shells instead of shoulder pads and shorts. Yeah, it was a mandatory minicamp and everybody was there (except defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who had an excused absence because of a death in the family) and so the news value was very clear.
But the thing is, well, here's how Vick handled it. He smiled into the cameras and instead of blasting away at the NFL Network's list and defending his play, he backed off. He killed the headline in one fell swoop (and I mean that in a literal sense, not in a mascot sense).
"It's more motivation for me to prove myself this year," said Vick. "It's just an opinion, anyway. I am out here trying to get better to help us win."
Controversy? Pffffftttttt ... that sound you hear is the air out of the tire. There is no controversy, not with this team. And that's a strange place to be for Eagles fans who are accustomed to angst and debate and, yeah, controversy.
There isn't any with this team. Zippo. I mean, we're at practice and watching the action and all the sideline chatter is about football. This is very rare in our world. Usually there are some spats happening -- Locker Room vs. Man From France, circa 1988, or Richie Kotite vs. the media, circa 1995 or the Quarterback Debacle year after year that marred the Ray Rhodes years.
Andy Reid has done his best in 13-plus years to eliminate the distractions and quell all the hysteria. He's a master at it, keeping his routine remarkably similar for the players to keep them focused. It's one of the many reasons Reid has won more games than any coach in franchise history, with many W's in the offing for the near future and beyond.
Even with that, and Reid's even-handed media responses, the media has had a lot of fun with the Eagles. Donovan McNabb was always a headline story. The wide receivers were the early controversy, and then Terrell Owens had a two-year run in 72-point font and then McNabb became the story on the field, again on the field and then when he was traded and then the team turned over its roster and ....
Here we are. Nothing much to talk about except the depth chart, right? The players seem happy, genuinely so. There isn't a contract issue now or on the horizon. There isn't a player whining about his playing time.
It is very difficult, the media has discovered since the Organized Team Activities started more than three weeks ago, to create a mountain of mayhem out of a molehill here. This is Team Happy. A determined happy, no doubt. But happy.
The Eagles were vastly disappointed in the 8-8 performance of a season ago and they are working hard to climb back to the top of the NFC East, and the NFC. Nobody here is talking smack. How can they? The Giants, the bitter division rival to the North, won the Super Bowl after a 9-7 regular season in 2011.
This is a humble, truly and honestly, team. The Eagles have confidence that they will play as the team they think they are, but they are not popping off with predictions and expectations. They meet with reporters and they talk football. They talk X's and O's.
After practice on Tuesday, for example, new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans spoke of the comfort level he feels with his team and as a leader for this defense.
"I like what I've seen. It's a great organization with great players and great coaches," he said. "I think I fit in perfectly here.'
Cool with me, DeMeco. That's exactly what I want to hear from my middle linebacker in June.
Over there, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha spoke glowingly of the advancements made by second-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, saying that the scheme is far beyond where it was in 2011.
"We learned what we could do and what we couldn't do quite as well," said Asomugha. "We're in a different place, a better player. The level of execution is far beyond last year. I'm really excited about being part of it."
On offense, wide receiver DeSean Jackson talked about the contented feeling he has with his new contract in place and where he wants to help take this offense. Always explosive, the Eagles want to be more consistent moving the football and more secure the red zone. It's about touchdowns, not field goals. It's about maximizing the talent from the top down with an offense that has so much continuity, so much promise.
As the Eagles opened the mandatory minicamp, there was nothing to talk about except football. There haven't been many days like this when the reporters left with their notebooks filled with talk of press coverage and a sliding pocket for Vick and the Kumbaya camaraderie percolating throughout this 87-man roster.
It's just football, plain and simple. And it is so welcome in this age of hysteria. There is absolutely nothing to talk about with the Eagles except how the team looks on the field and what it needs to do to win a Super Bowl. I ask you, Eagles fans, when is the last time you remember it being this way?