After Plenty of Soul-Searching, Eagles Bring Vick Aboard

Michael Vick with Eagles Coach Andy Reid, left, and his adviser, ex-Colts coach Tony Dungy, at a news conference introducing the quarterback in Philadelphia.
Michael Vick with Eagles Coach Andy Reid, left, and his adviser, ex-Colts coach Tony Dungy, at a news conference introducing the quarterback in Philadelphia. (By Matt Rourke -- Associated Press)
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 15, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 14 -- Michael Vick's second chance at an NFL career began Friday with some protesters lined up on a sidewalk outside the Philadelphia Eagles' training complex and the team's owner, Jeffrey Lurie, saying he'd been extremely reluctant initially to sign the quarterback who had been imprisoned for his role in a dog-fighting operation.

But Vick said he was grateful for his opportunity and prepared to try to make the most of it.

"I know, as we all know, in the past I have made some mistakes," Vick said at a late-morning news conference. "I have done some terrible things. I made a horrible mistake. And now I want to be part of the solution and not the problem. . . . I want to do whatever is necessary and be the best ambassador for the NFL and the community."

Vick was officially introduced by the Eagles on the day after the team announced that it had signed him to a one-year contract, plus an option for a second season. Vick missed the last two NFL seasons while serving his federal sentence, first in prison in Leavenworth, Kan., and then on home confinement in Hampton, Va.

Vick was seated at a table with Eagles Coach Andy Reid and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, an adviser to Vick, as he spoke.

"I committed an act that was cruel and it was unethical," Vick said. "It was inhumane. So I understand to a certain degree [that some will never forgive him]. But our country is a country of second chances and I paid my debt to society. I spent two years in prison. . . . That was a humbling experience."

Lurie said later that he'd had to be convinced to give Vick another chance.

"This took a lot of soul-searching for me," Lurie said. "I was asked to approve Michael Vick joining a very proud organization several days ago. Sometimes in life, you have to make extremely difficult and soul-searching decisions where there is no right answer. . . . When you are asked to approve something that you completely find despicable and anathema, it takes a lot of soul-searching."

Vick is scheduled to participate in his first practice with the Eagles on Saturday. He declared himself "ready to go" and called being with the Eagles a perfect situation. Vick termed it a "surreal feeling" to be back in the NFL.

He called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's recent conditional reinstatement of him "fair." Under the terms of his reinstatement, Vick is eligible to practice immediately and to play in the Eagles' final two preseason games. Goodell is to rule by Week 6 of the season on Vick's eligibility to play in regular season games.

Vick, a father of three, said the most difficult moment of his ordeal came when he had to explain the situation and his actions to his young children.

"I think everybody deserves a second chance," Vick said. "We all have issues. We deal with certain things, and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you're committed, then I think you deserve it. But you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that."

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