The explosive debate that has consumed the city since the arrival of Michael Vick played out on a much smaller and subdued scale Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field and an animal rights event across town.
The local NAACP's planned march outside the Linc to support Vick, the former Pro Bowl quarterback who was convicted in a dogfighting ring, did not materialize, although about a dozen members set up a table with banners supporting him.
Earlier, three women held a sign saying, "Murderers are not role models." In the middle was Clarissa Sherrow, a 25-year season ticket holder who arrived decked out in a Dalmatian rescue T-shirt and carrying a sign that said, "The rescue in your state could use help." Sherrow, of Nottingham, said she wanted to make sure Vick -- who has pledged to fight animal cruelty -- puts his money where his mouth is.
"I'm not protesting, I'm a true Eagles fan," said Sherrow. "I hope Michael Vick does what he says and that he's going to give back to the animals."
Several miles away in North Philadelphia, animal welfare advocates held a tailgating party to encourage adoption of pit bulls rescued from local dogfighting rings.
More than a dozen dogs, including two rescued just last weekend, were playing with volunteers during a vegetarian cookout at the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Mary Donato, who has three dogs, came to show her support for the agency, where one of her daughters is a vet technician. She said that Vick's 18-month prison term was not long enough, and that he shouldn't be able to play football anymore.
"What kind of role model is he for the children?" asked Donato. "They made a very big mistake."
The opposing view could be found outside the stadium, where people sported Vick jerseys defending the quarterback, saying he had been punished for his crime and deserved a second chance.
Wearing a T-shirt that declared "Forgive Vick/Go Eagles," George Jones and some friends drove from their homes in Portsmouth, Va., near where Vick grew up.
"Soon as we heard he was going here, we got the tickets. He was doing something wrong, but I believe he
paid his debt to society and needs to be forgiven," said Jones.
Vick entered the game on the second play from scrimmage to a rousing ovation from the crowd. He played receiver and quarterback, completing his first three passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars.