GQ published yet another "the redemption of Eagles QB Michael Vick" piece today that's caused a bit of a stir stemming from Vick's seeming admission that the NFL steered him toward signing with the Eagles after his release from prison, even though he preferred to go to a team that was going to give him a chance to start right away.
"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."
So it's worth noting that Vick never says that he would only have been allowed back in the league if he signed with the Eagles, as a few other news outlets have seemed to draw from this. Even the GQ writer doesn't really imply that. Plus, the writer does say "other reps from the NFL" which almost undoubtedly includes Tony Dungy, who was supposed to be advising Vick on his life and career. It does not say that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "convinced" him to go to the Eagles.
This is something the NFL was quick to point out today in a statement.
"[Vick’s] decision on where to play to put himself in the best position to succeed was entirely his own. Commissioner Goodell obviously met & spoke to Michael and his reps as part of his decision on whether to reinstate him 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."
Michael Vick himself released a statement through Eagles representatives to clarify what he said.
"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."
So it makes sense that NFL fans, especially those in Buffalo and Cincy, wouldn't be happy to hear that the Commish was steering players to one franchise or the other, but that's not really what was revealed here. Clearly Vick was getting advised from a number of different people, Tony Dungy, his agent, his PR people, family etc... Those people obviously would have had opinions on where he should go and would be completely within their rights to do.
It would not have been appropriate for Roger Goodell to do so, but again, that's not what was said here. The wording of the articles has led a lot of people to imply that, but it's simply not said. That would have been a pretty major admission and I think if Vick actually said that Goodell steered him toward a particular team that 1) the writer would have flat out said that and 2) the writer would have used it as more than just a pretty minor passing comment in a very long story. This was never a comment that was expounded on or further addressed the story, which is a pretty good sign that it was no big deal.