So Michael Vick tells Emeritus for GQ that nobody cares about dog-fighting except the media, that white people don't understand where he came from, and that the NFL encouraged him to go play for the Eagles when he pretty much preferred the Bengals or the Bills. Vick, as if on cue, has since clarified what he said to say he didn't exactly mean what he said:
I did speak with many people, but the decision to sign in Philadelphia was based on my discussions with my agent, my family and with Coach (Andy) Reid. And after those discussions, it became clear to me that this was the place I wanted to play and resume my NFL career. The commissioner never told me to sign or not sign with particular teams. Again, I want to make it perfectly clear that this was a decision I made and, as I have said numerous times before, I'm very happy with the way it has worked out for me and my family.
And so did the NFL:
Michael Vick's decision on where to play to put himself in the best position to succeed was entirely his own. Commissioner Goodell obviously met and spoke to Michael and his representatives as part of his decision on whether to reinstate Michael and on what terms. But the commissioner would never steer players to or away from particular teams and did not do so in this case.
As predicted yesterday, a lot of people reacted to this news. Here's a sampling:
Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas, via WGR Sports Radio in Buffalo:
It goes all against what the Commissioner has been trying to do. It's like another slap in the face to the Buffalo Bills. I'm upset about it. I want to know what the whole idea was about wanting him to go to Philadelphia and not Buffalo or Cincinnati. I think Mr. Wilson needs to give the Commissioner a call and see what happened.
It was wrong, I think there needs to be an investigation.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated, via Twitter:
If I'm Ralph Wilson or Mike Brown, I'm on the phone w/the commish about Vick's claim that the league steered him to Philly. And I'm ticked.
Cincy Jungle, a Bengals blog [sic]'d:
Cincinnati in most respects, wasn't a likely scenario; though considering Carson Palmer's rehabilitation with his elbow after the 2008 season in which he missed 12 games, it certainly wasn't surprising that Cincinnati reportedly offered Vick a two-year deal worth $2.3 million in mid-August 2009. We can only assume the promise of starting was contingent of Palmer's recovery with his elbow, in which some speculate has never been the same.
What's more than telling is the conjecture, reading between the lines that the league pushed and steered Vick to sign with the Eagles, most likely because it's a more stable situation for a guy like Vick, recently out of prison looking to resume his NFL career. Either way I would hope people would want an explanation on that.
Les Bowen, the Philadelphia Daily News:
In some quarters, this is being taken as Roger Goodell taking a Pro Bowl quarterback away from the poor Bengals or Bills. I think that's silly.
First, as Vick said in the statement he was forced to release today, he never said in the story that Goodell insisted he sign with the Eagles. If you recall the situation in '09, Vick's primary advisor was Tony Dungy, who had a relationship with Andy Reid he might not have had with a lot of other coaches. Other key advice came from agent Joel Segal, who also is pretty close to Eagles management. Also, Vick was not a hot commodity, coming out of prison. There was talk he might have to play in the UFL to get another NFL opportunity.
Stripe Hype, another Bengals blog [sic]'d:
Vick got out of prison in 2009. Going in to the 2009 season, the Bengal's quarterbacks were Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer, and JT O'Sullivan (signed in March of 2009). Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Buffalo Bills in February in 2009.
Vick was the 3rd-string QB with the Eagles when he first signed, behind starter Donovan McNabb and capable backup Kevin Kolb. With Cincinnati in 2009, Carson Palmer hadn't shown anything special since his knee injury at the end of the 2005 season. He was the franchise QB, but there were stirrings about his future and potential. Jordan Palmer and JT O'Sullivan weren't any major threats to replace Carson. Vick had a better opportunity with the Bengals at the time. Sigh… I suppose there's no use thinking about what could have been.
Bill Plaschke, the Los Angeles Times:
The only thing pointless, it seems, is continuing to think that Michael Vick's renewal on the football field has led to a reinvention of his character. It hasn't. It won't. America needs to stop believing.
The only real news in the GQ story was Vick's claim that he could have signed and started for the Cincinnati Bengals or Buffalo Bills, yet the NFL steered him toward a backup role in Philadelphia so his comeback would be slower and quieter.
Some say fans in those first two cities should be outraged. I say they should be thankful.
Tim Graham, the Buffalo News, via Twitter:
Vick to Bills: Source tells me Goodell info moot even if true. Ralph Wilson refused to consider Vick despite interest from football dept.
Joe Reedy, the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Off field, this team would not have been equipped for the scrutiny and to provide the tools for Vick to have an successful transition and comeback. The public outcry, both locally and nationally, would have been immense. If fans were ready shaking their heads last year over the signings of Matt Jones (later released) and Adam Jones, a Vick signing would have made things a lot worse. It also would have created a circus atmosphere in the locker room. For a locker room that showed wear and tear from T.Ocho last year, a quarterback controversy that would have had no winners and a fractured locker room. [sic]
The fact of the matter is, whether you want to admit it or not, this team was not in a position to handle it and they would still be in the same position today - with a rookie quarterback. The Eagles had the personnel, front office and coaching staff to handle the addition of Vick to their roster. The Bengals did not. In two years, Vick has rehabilitated his career and life to the point that Nike has added him back as a spokesman. I doubt we would have seen that if he ended up here.
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated:
But it's certainly plausible that the truth in this matter is far more nuanced than either the magazine or the subsequent denials capture. "Granted league approval'' is probably a heavy-handed phrase that misses the mark when compared to the reality of the situation. But Vick doesn't sound like he thought he was getting mere advice and input from Goodell and the league when he told GQ in that same paragraph: "I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation.'' I suppose it's all a matter of how you define the word "put'' in that sentence.
And, of course, there's this reaction, shared by many who are neither Bengals nor Bills fans:
@Christina_J1210, via Twitter:
So yeah...still a huge FUCK YOU to Michael Vick. Fucking asshole.