Shutdown Corner - NFL

Michael Vick(notes) is as good at dodging commitments as he is at eluding defenders. For the third time in as many weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has canceled a scheduled appearance, this time on a waiting live audience. 

Vick was scheduled to appear live on "ESPN First Take" on Friday afternoon. Late in the show, however, host Dana Jacobson talked to the assembled crowd at Disney's Hollywood Studios and informed them that Vick was a no-show:

"We have some bad news. We were supposed to have an interview with Michael Vick, we've been telling you about it, and sadly the Eagles actually pulled the interview, is what I'm being told. In all honesty, we were looking forward to talking to Michael about what has been a turnaround season for him and what has been a rough few years and getting to some other stuff."

The Eagles quickly refuted the story, claiming Vick was never asked to be on the program. "It's ridiculous," an Eagles spokesman said in an e-mailed statement to Pro Football Talk that never actually denied whether the team yanked Vick from the interview or not. All it claims is that Vick himself didn't cancel. 

It's a high-stakes game of "he said/she said." Unless ESPN apologizes for Jacobson's remarks, we'll never know the real story. Either way, the Eagles need to learn from this episode and change the media strategy in place for Vick.

If he's not going to sit for interviews, come out and say so. There's no point in dangling Vick as an interview subject to Oprah only to pull him away at the last second. The team is cleaning up self-created messes by letting the media think they have a shot to talk with the quarterback. The truth about why he's canceling is irrelevant now that there's a perception that he's unreliable.

You can't blame Philadelphia for not wanting Vick to do interviews. His on-field play was doing enough to turn around his image. Why risk ruining all that in one soundbite? All it takes is one stupid statement or flub to make national news and erase Vick's public rehabilitation.

In protecting Vick, the Eagles are harming his reputation. Bailing on Oprah was understandable and would have been forgotten by now if it wasn't brought up again when Vick canceled an appearance with at-risk kids. Now it's back on everyone's mind again. No matter how ridiculous, the Philadelphia Eagles have no one to blame for that but themselves.

Update: The Maxwell Club took responsibility for the incident. Club president Ron Jaworski said in a statement to PFT:

"There was a communication problem that was totally the fault of the Maxwell Football Club in clearing Michael for the interview. Michael Vick was never asked to do the interview and never cancelled.

"Michael has been very cooperative in all our dealings with him in regard to winning the Bert Bell Award as the NFL Player of the Year."

In retrospect, you probably shouldn't expect too much from a club that willingly chose to give its NFL Player of the Year Award to Michael Vick.

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