In a GQ article published Wednesday on the magazine’s Web site, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he never wanted to be in Philadelphia, but that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and others convinced him to sign in the City of Brothery Love instead of Cincinnati or Buffalo.
One day later — which seems to be the standard retraction time frame for outspoken athletes — Vick clarified his remarks in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“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.”
In an e-mail to Pro Football Talk, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, rebuffed Vick’s claims in the article.
“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.”
Tony Dungy, who helped mentor Vick during his transition back to the NFL after his release from federal prison, said Thursday on The Dan Patrick Show that while he and others may have suggested to Vick that Philadelphia might have been the best fit, he doubted Goodell would have pushed the quarterback toward the Eagles.
The NFL prides itself on parity and the relative balance across the league is evident from year to year. But in Buffalo and Cincinnati, where losing has become an all-too-familiar rite of fall, you had to figure Bills and Bengals fans would have a strong reaction to Vick’s remarks.
Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas has already called for an investigation.
Here’s Vick’s original quote from the GQ story:
“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.”