Leitch on Vick’s statement: “I wouldn’t disagree with a word of it”


The issuance of statements from the NFL insisting that quarterback Mike Vick wasn’t steered to the Eagles and from Vick insisting that the decision to go to the Eagles was his and his alone implies the existence of a conflict with the GQ interview in which his comments regarding an initial reluctance to go to Philadelphia appeared.  And for good reason.  The interview widely has been interpreted as suggesting that the league at best nudged Vick to the Eagles and at worst packed him with foam peanuts in a box bound for the City of Brotherly Love.  The author of the interview, however, sees no inconsistency.

“The story stands on its own,” Will Leitch told PFT via e-mail on Thursday.  “I obviously recorded the whole interview (I cannot take notes that fast) and it went through the lengthy — oh, how lengthy — GQ fact-checking process several times over.

“The story never claims that Goodell ‘steered’ him into signing with Philly, or that he was ‘forbidden’ from signing with Buffalo or Cincinnati. That came from the Deadspin piece last night, which everyone ran with.  (Those Deadspin rascals. CAN’T TRUST ‘EM.)”

Leitch is the founder of Deadspin.  He remains the site’s Editor Emeritus.  Though we’re tempted to characterize his comments as a case of Deadspin-on-Deadspin crime, he’s clearly joking.  (Unfortunately.)

Deadspin had the first word on the interview because, frankly, Deadspin disregarded the embargo that GQ placed on the excerpts of the story.  That said, Deadspin didn’t set the agenda for interpreting Vick’s words and the words used by Leitch to characterize Vick’s words.  We received the same excerpts Deadspin received, and I’d already concluded that Vick was saying he had been steered by the league to the Eagles before I saw the Deadspin article last night.

And for good reason.  The e-mail from GQ led with the following excerpt:

Michael Vick on not originally wanting to come to Philly:

“‘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.'”

With due respect to Vick and to the Eagles and to the NFL and to Leitch, that passage implies pretty strongly that “Goodell and other reps from the NFL” at least advised and at most coerced Vick to pick the Eagles.  The choice of words clearly indicates a causal link between the input from Goodell and other league officials and Vick’s decision.  However, Leitch believes that the truth lies in the difference between the words “convinced” and “persuaded.”

“The piece says that he was convinced (not ‘persuaded’) to sign with Philadelphia, and that he got league approval to do so,” Leitch said.  “That is all the story has said from the beginning.  These things are undeniably true. Vick had countless advisors on that critical move, and Goodell and the NFL — obviously — were a part of the process. This
‘steering’ and ‘forbidden’ business came from places outside of this story.”

He’s right that the words “steering” and “forbidden” were applied to the situation by others.  But when Leitch writes that “after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and other reps from the NFL, Vick was convinced — and granted league approval — to sign with Philly,” and when the next sentence consists of a quote from Vick in which he says “I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation,” a reasonable person of reasonable intelligence reasonably could conclude that Vick didn’t “convince” himself to join the Eagles, but that others “convinced” him to do it.  When the subsequent thought consists of a quote in which Vick “commend[s] and thank[s] them” because “they put [him] in the right situation,” it’s also fair and reasonable to infer that Vick’s decision was the product of the advice, or something stronger, of others.

Vick didn’t say he put himself in Philly.  He said “they put [him]” there.

The fact that Leitch believes his article to be consistent with Vick’s statement takes considerable sting — and steam — out of the situation.  But the article says what the article says, and Deadpin, PFT, NFL.com, and plenty of others interpreted the article to say that Goodell and other league officials infringed upon Vick’s independent process of picking a team and advised, encouraged, urged, and/or steered Vick to pick the Eagles.

38 responses to “Leitch on Vick’s statement: “I wouldn’t disagree with a word of it”

  1. That is actually depressing. I am a HUGE football fan and don’t like to see the game tarnished by colusion. And make no mistake about it, when the commissioner directs a player away from one team and to another it is indeed colusion.

  2. Roger Goodell needs to own up to this and stop hiding behind his lies. Tony Dungy was also an employee of the NFL while he help Vick make the decision.

  3. The owners of the Bills and Bengles should be ashamed of themselves. The cities they represent are taking it from behind without the curtosy of a reach-around.

  4. Woow! There is no transparancy to this guy!In such a short period of time this guy is arguably the worst commissioner ever………..

  5. Oh man!….This story is not going away anytime soon, and rightly so, the implications are huge!

    Shame on the NFL and for every interview in the foreseeable future Vick will have to field a new controversy. What was to be an epic season for the Eagles is starting to grow legs.


  6. It’s a really good thing that Vick is so eloquent at stating what he thinks, feels and means. I mean, if he had ever said something in a way that could be interpreted in more than one way, that might suggest this was nothing more than Vick being unclear. Good thing we know better!

  7. The only thing I get from this is that Vick didn’t have good judgment about teams–and given his history, that’s not exactly news. He was tossing out the names of places where he thought he could more quickly become a starter. The people trying to help him rebuild his life suggested a more stable environment where he could be mentored by an experienced QB and a coach who’s good with quarterbacks. Much as I dislike Goodell, he acted in Vick’s interest; it’s not collusion to advise a troubled player on a wise course.

  8. More proof that Goodell has way too much power than he should. He was hired by ALL the owners. For him to get involved in cherry picking where star players should go to is seamy. He supposed to protect the interest of ALL the teams. How much is a team like Buffalo hurt with the presence of a star like Vick? Or the Bengals because they don’t have a back up to replace Palmer? Oh I get. Those aren’t big market teams that will drive up advertising rates. If I were those two teams I would get a majority group of owners to vote yea on firing Goodell for obstructing fair competition for players.

  9. so the guy talked with probably 20 people regarding his decision and most likely every one of them pointed out that yes, he wouldn’t be starting in Philadelphia but there would be much more structure regarding the quarterback/offensive coaching which is probably what he should have been looking for. When I read the article I actually thought that when he said he didn’t want to play for Philadelphia all he meant was that he didn’t want to be sitting on the bench but realized that it was a better situation to get back into the NFL. now I’m wondering why I am caring about this anyways…who cares if somebody pushed him this way or that?

  10. Speaking of Vick, it sure looks like he’s reverted to being a nice run-around-in-circles “athlete” but bad quarterback….

    Go “Dream Team”…

  11. So how do Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown feel about this? How about the Bills and Bengals GMs? Even other teams in the NFC east?
    Let’s hope Goodell and the NFL reps don’t start persuading teams to lose to certain other teams…

  12. “dmobey says:
    Aug 18, 2011 8:32 PM
    Hope the dog killer and the rapist both have to leave on carts.”
    So, one cart for Vick…the other for Roethlisberger?

  13. dasportsninja says:
    Aug 18, 2011 8:20 PM
    Roger Goodell needs to own up to this and stop hiding behind his lies. Tony Dungy was also an employee of the NFL while he help Vick make the decision.
    Who cares? NFL wanted Vick BACK IN, period. He was one of the biggest stories in years, he did his time, came back and has Philly competitive. I guarantee if he gets in the SB, it will garner one of the largest television audience in years, a Philly-New England rematch would be the “best” good vs. evil Super Bowl in decades – its good for ratings.

  14. Leitch is 100% right about the difference between “convinced” and “persuaded”. The former indicates that Vick came to the decision himself based on advice. The latter indicates that he did it without necessarily believing it was the right thing. Maybe splitting hairs like that doesn’t fly when a mob is forming, but words mean what they mean.

  15. i think, i hope the commish was telling vick that he shouldn’t worry about starting, and just try to get to back in the league until a great situation presents itself

  16. I hate Goodell, but come on, he’s not that stupid to try to convince him to join Philly…for what reason? He would have been more popular in Buffalo as a starter than a 3rd stringer in Philly.

  17. toe-may-toe, toe-mah-to. Whatever.

    Maybe the conversation he had with the NFL went something like this:

    NFL : “Yeah…you could start in Cincy or Buffalo, but the ownership is terrible, it’s a smaller market, and the team and coaches suck…I’d go to Philly instead to learn from good coaches and come back slowly in a solid organization.”

    Vick : “That makes sense to me.”

  18. Oops. My first paragraph was incomplete. Should have read, “…infringed upon Vick’s independent process of picking a team and advised, encouraged, urged, and/or steered Vick to pick the Eagles.”

  19. Yep steered to Philly how many other “free agents” steered by Goodell. Makes you wonder Vick at his 30th B- Day party one of his co defendants when he ran a dog fighting ring is shot nothing done.Why is that clown at Vick’s party. You’d think Michael would avoid him like the plague.
    Is Goodell up to something? Is he pissed at Jerry Jones and Synder? Is something going on with Philly. Makes you wonder we’ll have to see what kind of calls they’ll get this year Will it be as bad as the calls the Saints got against the Vikings in the NFC Championship game
    The Fix is in for Philly just wait and see

  20. I got halfway through this and skipped the rest. This is just SO stupid. Seriously. I’m convinced 8th grade girls are running this site from the girl’s bathroom. That’s the mentality of this subject.

    Ooooo he saiiiiddd…

    OH yeah well now well yeah umm yeah well they said THIS.

    BUt then OHhhh you said this.

    I meant SHUTUP already with this and grow up.

    So Vick had 2 other offers on the table to probably start and the league and Dungy and everyone else said we think it’s best to go to Philly. Ease back in and watch McNabb instead of jumping right back in. We all agree it’s probably best for you. SO he said yeah ok I see what you mean. Ok, I’ll do that.

    And for some reason you’ve turned into a bunch of 13 yr old girls playing he said/she said over something of complete inconsequence that you’re treating like a huge scandal. Who does that??? 13 yr old girls.

    What is wrong with you people? Having trouble with your training bra?

  21. Maybe after the conversations with the NFL and Goodell about where to resume his career, Vick became convinced that Philly would provide the best long-term opportunity for him.

    It really just depends on how he said it. Maybe everyone’s reading too much into this. Quoted accurately yes, but perhaps Vick didn’t explain it clearly enough.

  22. Goodell should be impeached if there is such a thing. The man is a disgrace to the office, and should not be leading the NFL.
    I encourage PFT or anyone else to start a campaign to rid the NFL of Badell. The man is a fool and full of himself.

  23. i dont like goodell anymore than anyone else and if this story is true goodell should be fired right away.imo he has already tarnished the nfl and this would just put it over the top.

  24. Leitch is afraid that players won’t do interviews with him in the future it he hangs out Vick to dry. So scumbag Leitch says the opposite of what he wrote to protect his meal ticket.

  25. Maybe ConVick should just shut up and play football? That is, until someone takes him out for good then he can run his yap all he wants from a wheelchair.

  26. After reading the article and all these comments, I was convinced that Goodell did not steer Vick to the Eagles.

    — Does this mean someone made my decision for me?

  27. Let me say it again…Roger Goodell has way too much influence. When he finally and totally oversteps, I hope he doesn’t do too much damage and destroy a guy’s career. This guy, to be the commissioner of the NFL, is too involved with players on a personal level, starting with the “I love you man!” hugs at the draft. Please, man…

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