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Vick jerseys will be hit or miss

Some sporting good stores will carry the controversial quarterback's jerseys, while others refuse.
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Some sporting good stores will carry the controversial quarterback's jerseys, while others refuse. Get used to seeing Michael Vick's name around town.At Thursday's Eagles preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, some fans showed their disdain for the former Pro Bowl quarterback by protesting his arrival. Others proudly wore their brand-new Vick jerseys and cheered on the Birds' newest addition during their close, hotly contested 33-32 win.But where are all those gleaming green No. 7 jerseys coming from? Most retail stores aren't exactly willing to say.As Vick's popularity grows, many sporting goods stores are reacting to the high demand by stocking their shelves with his apparel. But stores also might be feeling the heat for making money off one of the most controversial athletes to call the City of Brotherly Love his home."We're not releasing any information in regards to Vick sales," said Derrick Morgan, district manager of Modell's Sporting Goods, on Friday. Store managers in the region took similar silent stances when asked how frequently Vick's jersey was carried off by a happy customer.And who can blame them?Vick carried the baggage of being convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation and was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison when he was a star for the Atlanta Falcons.Now store owners are faced with the option to pocket some extra green while dealing with the ire of animal rights groups threatening to stage protests, or to simply pass on the Eagles' new passer and his profitable apparel by boycotting lucky No. 7.To the delight of dog lovers, Dick's Sporting Goods announced last week that it would not carry Vick jerseys. The Pennsylvania-based chain said it would not stock the jerseys in any of its 300-plus stores based on the logic that there wasn't a demand.Dave Brown, community marketing manager for Dick's, declined to comment on whether the store was planning to change its stance or stick to its guns by keeping Vick out of Dick's.Some customers in Pennsylvania seem to agree that since Vick has done the time for his crimes, he should be regarded primarily as a football player."He was wrong, but he's an athlete. That's the reason we sell the jersey," said Middletown Sports Authority employee Ryan Sweet of Bristol Township.John Malloy of Tullytown isn't a fan of Michael Vick, "but if I were a fan, I'd buy the jersey. He paid a high price for the crimes he committed and deserves a second chance."Exton resident Lee Perkins said he would buy the jersey, too. "People love him. What's done is done, and he's ready to play with the Eagles," he said. Stephen Edwards of Trevose said Vick made a mistake and should be allowed to play now that he has been punished. "They let drug users go back and play."Headed into Middletown's Dick's Sporting Goods store, Jon Weiss of Bethlehem isn't particularly bothered by whether or not a store sells the jerseys, but said people need to let Vick move on with his life. "Anyway, it's all for merchandising. They're athletes, not role modes in terms of life decisions." If Dick's isn't selling his jerseys, said his friend Laura Gilbert of Yardley, then they're losing out on a great financial opportunity. In neighboring New Jersey, the Sports Authority is selling the jerseys, but a manager at the store in Mount Laurel declined to comment on recent sales, saying the store didn't want any part of the controversy.Sports Paradise on Route 130 in Willingboro, N.J., was more willing to share information regarding sales. Owner Craig Treiber said the store recently sold out of the jerseys in men's sizes and is expecting a new shipment Monday or Tuesday."I wish we would have had the jerseys in the day (Vick) signed with the Eagles," Treiber said. "They have been selling great. I think parents might be a little skeptical buying the jerseys for their kids, but the men's sizes are flying out of here."Treiber said the decision to stock Vick's jersey was never an issue."Not for me," he said. "I feel he did his time and he lost a lot of money the last few years and he deserves a chance. That's why I brought him in."