In a new interview with GQ, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick says he wanted to play for the Bills or the Bengals, and that he was steered to Philadelphia.
The league denies that Vick was steered anywhere.
“Michael Vick’s decision on where to play to put himself in the best position to succeed was entirely his own,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT via e-mail. “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.”
NBC’s Tony Dungy, who served as a league-appointed advisor for Vick, expressed doubt earlier today on The Dan Patrick Show that Goodell would have advised Vick to play for the Eagles. Dungy added, however, that Vick received a lot of advice (including from Dungy) that Philadelphia was the best place to go.
It remains to be seen whether Aiello’s remarks will be enough for the folks in Buffalo, many of whom are up in arms about the perceived slight. Former Bills running back Thurman Thomas made an unscheduled call to WGR radio on Thursday, and Thomas wasn’t happy about Vick’s allegation.
“It goes all against what the Commissioner has been trying to do,” Thomas said. “It’s like another slap in the face to the Buffalo Bills. I’m upset about it. I want to know what the whole idea was about wanting him to go to Philadelphia and not Buffalo or Cincinnati. I think Mr. Wilson needs to give the Commissioner a call and see what happened.
“It was wrong, I think there needs to be an investigation.”
Thomas may be right; we wouldn’t expect the NFL to admit that Vick was steered to Philly, even if his recollection is accurate. But who would conduct an investigation? We’re aware of no “internal affairs” department within the league office, which would have the ability to investigate the conduct of the Commissioner. If anything were to happen, the owners would have to decide to do it on their own, and we doubt that such an effort would be good for the league’s overall best interests.