By Andrew Perloff
August 14, 2009

PHILADELPHIA -- Marisa Scully's family has had Eagles season tickets since they played at Franklin Field in the 1960s. She's gone to every home game since she moved back to Philadelphia from college six years ago. She also trains pit bulls for a living and owns two. Her lifelong devotion to the Eagles is no match for her disgust at the team signing Michael Vick.

"I truly love the Eagles. I cried last night when I heard the news," Scully said. "The only reason I would ever go to a game again is to hold up a sign against Vick and the team. I can never root for this team again."

Scully was one of about 50 protestors outside the Novacare Center in Philadelphia during Vick's introductory press conference. They were holding posters with photos of mangles pit bulls and slogans that included "Shame on the Eagles" and "Hide your Beagle, here comes an Eagle." While Vick, head coach Andy Reid and Vick mentor Tony Dungy explained why the new Eagle is a different person, animal activists weren't buying it.

"Once you understand what dogfighters of capable of, you could never root for them," Scully said. "Dogfighters know they're torturing those animals. You think just because Michael Vick went to a PETA class he learned anything in prison? Anyone who can do that to an animal can't be capable of real remorse."

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is also a dog lover and is fully aware of the risk he's taking. He expects and demands that Vick be active in the community and do anything he can to help animal rights activists.

"This is not a slam dunk," Lurie said. "He's going to have to be absolutely committed to being proactive. If we don't have an extremely proactive player off the field, then this is a terrible decision. It's counterintuitive. It's going to be initially disappointing to some people."

The small amount of protestors on Friday may be encouraging for Eagles officials, but the Vick signing was announced late Thursday night and activists had little time to mobilize. Organizers will use any means they can to get the word out moving forward.

"We plan to use Twitter, Facebook ... any social media we can get a hold of to get people out to the stadium to let them know how people feel," said Patricia Palko of South Philadelphia.

Vick's first practice is on Saturday afternoon and many of the protestors who were there Friday plan to return -- and they're bringing friends.

"I'd be surprised if this thing didn't grow tremendously over the next several weeks," picketer Maryanne Aros said. "Hopefully it will only get worse for the Eagles. They have to understand how we feel. We really care about this team and this feels like a betrayal."

The Vick era is under way in Philly. The community will be watching to see if Vick fulfills the commitment Lurie, Reid and Dungy expect from him, to act socially responsible and try to make up for some of the damage he caused. But for many dog lovers, that just won't matter. Even if they bleed green, they'll never be able to follow a team that signed Vick.

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