In a **compelling GQ article** published online Thursday, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he didn't initially want to play for Philadelphia because Buffalo and Cincinnati offered better chances for him to regain the starting role he once held in Pro Bowl form with Atlanta.
In the story, Vick said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials convinced him that Philadelphia was the best option for his overall transition, a recommendation Vick, in hindsight, said was the right one.
Lombardi: Perfect fit
Right or wrong, Roger Goodell had the best interest of the league and the player in mind when he (at least) suggested that Michael Vick should sign with the Eagles. And he was right. **More ...**
After the story was published Thursday morning, Vick released a statement through the Eagles in which he emphasized that the decision to sign with the Eagles was entirely his own. "The Commissioner never told me to sign or not sign with particular teams," Vick said. "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."
Still, Goodell's involvement was needed to some degree since he was the one who lifted the indefinite suspension he had placed on Vick for his role in a dog-fighting ring that led to imprisonment.
That Goodell may have steered Vick toward a particular franchise unveils several notable things:
» Goodell believed Vick had learned his lesson and wanted him back in the league. He also was invested enough in Vick's well-being to help him weigh options instead of letting Vick and his agent decide alone.
» The Bills and Bengals might not appreciate Goodell helping steer Vick to an opposing team. However, neither of those franchises has shown the coaching or locker room stability of the Eagles. Goodell and others might have felt that there were better support systems in place in Philadelphia -- inside and outside of the franchise -- for a player who generated unprecedented backlash for his crime.
» Though Vick probably felt it would be unwise to go against the recommendation of the man who was allowing him back into the NFL, he also showed a lot of faith in himself. It might have been easier to escape to those smaller-market teams and possibly start, but Vick trusted his ability and character enough to deal with the higher profile, East Coast fan base and media pressure cooker.
There could be some raised eyebrows about Goodell steering Vick to the Eagles, where he's resurrected himself as one of the league's top players. I would imagine the Bills and Bengals, especially with their precarious quarterback situations, would have loved for Vick to have rediscovered his magic with them.
Even so, this was a unique circumstance. I seriously doubt Goodell recommends to other players where they should work and live. I also don't think there would be too many who'd listen to him if he did.
Had this not worked for Vick, going to Philadelphia might have resulted in a story of regret. Yet this is working, because Vick has made the best of the situation.