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There is no Vick at Dick's.
A spokesman for Dick's Sporting Goods said yesterday that the chain will not stock Michael Vick's Eagles jersey until company officials "evaluate the reaction of Eagles fans."
Meanwhile, the NFLShop, the league's merchandizing arm, is offering several styles of Vick's gridiron apparel — including a customizable jersey for dogs.
Vick, the former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was released from a federal prison in May after serving 18 months on a dogfighting conviction. His signing with the Eagles last week has polarized the team's fans and triggered a storm of debate across the country.
"Right now we don't know how much of a demand there is for" the jersey, Dick's chief marketing officer, Jeff Hennion, said in a prepared statement. "If there is a demand for it, we'll sell it."
Mitchell Modell, owner and CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods, said he initially had reservations about selling Vick jerseys. But it didn't take long to see there was "pretty high demand" for No. 7's sports apparel — especially at his Philadelphia-area stores.
"We weren't planning on selling it until the customers started coming into the stores demanding it," Modell said. "As long as the customers are coming in, we'll sell it. We're in the business to serve our customers."
The day after his arrest on dogfighting charges in July 2007, the NFLShop.com removed Vick's Falcons jerseys and other collectibles from its Web site. Reebok, the manufacturer of Vick-emblazoned apparel, suspended sales soon after.
Yesterday, Vick Eagles jerseys in dark green, white or black were offered by the NFLShop site for $79.99, $109.99 and up.
"We anticipate sales of No. 7 jerseys will be among the top-20-selling player jerseys for the month of August," said the NFLShop's Brian McCarthy.
Vick has been running plays with the Eagles' scout team at practice. (Len Redkoles / Getty Images)
The NFLShop is also selling an Eagles jersey for dogs that could be customized with the No. 7 and VICK on the back for $39.99.
"Just as you could with any other player, you can buy a customizable jersey for a dog with anybody's name on it," said league spokesman Greg Aiello.
Aiello said there are some names that the NFLShop would not accept — "Badnewz," the name of Vick's former kennel, among them.
"But just to have Michael Vick's name on the back is not an issue," Aiello said. "Vick is working with the Humane Society and speaking out for the proper treatment of animals, so we don't see a problem."
Outside Dick's Sporting Goods in the Metroplex Shopping Center in Plymouth Meeting, a woman who declined to give her name said she would not even take a Vick jersey if it was free.
Another woman from the Main Line at the store said she is "absolutely not going to watch the Eagles" and would never buy the jersey. She said she owns two cats and a year-old pit bull named Ace, who she said is loving and friendly to children.
"My opinion is, Vick did his time and he deserves a second chance, but not as a role model to kids," she said.
Joe Parham, 61, a tailor from Chestnut Hill who said he has prospered despite being involved in a gang as a boy, said he would definitely buy a Vick jersey. If Dick's didn't have them, he said he would go elsewhere to buy one.
"I don't think they think that people do change," Parham said. "Nothing stays the same."
At the Sports Authority on DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia, manager Keith Seitzer said the store did not have the jerseys, which are expected in by Wednesday.
Those who expressed an opinion to him seemed split by gender on the Vick issue, Seitzer said.
"The guys are pro, the girls are no. That's the way it seems to be," he said.
Contact staff writer Sam Wood
at 215-854-2796 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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