Thursday's GQ piece about Michael Vick by Will Leitch has certainly been the talk of the NFL, and not for the reason some may have expected. Vick's comments about his dogfighting past, in which he appeared to be rationalizing the Bad Newz Kennels operation to a degree, didn't really resonate. What did resonate was this excerpt of the article, which Deadspin.com posted on Wednesday:
"I think I can say this now, because it's not going to hurt anybody's feelings, and it's the truth... I didn't want to come to Philadelphia. Being the third-team quarterback is nothing to smile about. Cincinnati and Buffalo were better options."
Those two teams wanted him and would've allowed him to start, but after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and other reps from the NFL, Vick was convinced—and granted league approval—to sign with Philly. "And I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation."
That quote certainly makes it look as if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conspired, with other league representatives, to steer Vick in the direction of the Eagles, which smacks of collusion in that it limited or eliminated Vick's bargaining power by unfairly limiting his options as a free agent when he came back to the league after his 18-month prison term.
I felt it was necessary to put out a statement today clarifying the article in GQ Magazine. 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 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 in an email to Pro Football Talk, Leitch infers that Deadspin may have taken the quotes out of context. "The piece says that he was convinced (not 'persuaded') to sign with Philadelphia, and that he got league approval to do so," Leitch wrote. "That is all the story has said from the beginning. These things are undeniably true. Vick had countless advisors on that critical move, and Goodell and the NFL — obviously — were a part of the process. This 'steering' and 'forbidden' business came from places outside of this story."
Very interesting, after Vick mentor Tony Dungy admitted on Thursday morning's "Dan Patrick Show" that he recommended that Vick go to Philadelphia. And as a representative of the league at the time, Dungy was crossing an iffy line.
Fortunately, we'll be getting our own clarifications from Will, as he'll be joining Shutdown Corner on Friday morning for an exclusive podcast. We'll have that up very soon after, and this story with legs will keep on running … hopefully in the right direction!