I occasionally remind people here in the Philly area that Eagle quarterback Michael Vick has served his time and should be given a chance to redeem himself. He can redeem himself by bagging groceries, of course. He doesn’t have any right to earn millions of dollars in the National Football League. If he violates any of the league’s rules he’ll be gone from football again.

There are millions of anonymous Americans who, like Michael Vick, have served out sentences in prison that were imposed by the courts. And they often find that even a job bagging groceries is out of their reach. That’s why President Obama went out his way to thank the Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving Michael Vick a second chance. It sets an example for other business owners. It also takes balls to get involved with the Vick case because it invites easy criticism. It’s not only the horror most people have for dogfighting, it’s the not unlikely prospect that the president will be left looking like a jackass if Michael Vick screws up again.

But I’m disappointed that people are focusing exclusively on the Michael Vick part of the equation. The president didn’t call Lurie to thank him for hiring Michael Vick alone. He wanted to thank Lurie for doing something much more important.

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced a plan to power Lincoln Financial Field with a combination of onsite wind, solar and dual-fuel generated electricity, making it the world’s first major sports stadium to convert to self-generated renewable energy.

The Eagles have contracted with Orlando FL-based SolarBlue, a renewable energy and energy conservation company, to install approximately 80 20-foot spiral-shaped wind turbines on the top rim of the stadium, affix 2,500 solar panels on the stadium’s façade, build a 7.6 megawatt onsite dual-fuel cogeneration plant and implement sophisticated monitoring and switching technology to operate the system.

Over the next year, SolarBlue will invest in excess of $30 million to build out the system, with a completion goal of September 2011. SolarBlue will maintain and operate the stadium’s power system for the next 20 years at a fixed annual price increase in electricity, saving the Eagles an estimated $60 million in energy costs.

The Eagles and SolarBlue estimate that over the 20-year horizon, the on-site energy sources at Lincoln Financial Field will provide 1.039 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – more than enough to supply the stadium’s power needs – enabling an estimated four megawatts of excess energy off-peak to be sold back to the local electric grid.

The new facility for the New York Giants and Jets is also forward looking in its use of energy and concern for the environment. With any luck, the Eagles’ stadium will become the standard for all new sporting facilities as far as energy use, and the New Meadowlands facility will be emulated for concern about the local ecology, water use, and the use of alternative energy.

The Mara Family and the Luries are leading the way to a new green economy. We should be talking about that, not Michael Vick. Or, maybe I’m just saying that because Vick ruined the Giants’ season?

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