There may not be a professional athlete alive today that can invoke a full spectrum of emotions the way Michael Vick can. Many fans want to cheer, others want to boo, while professional football players all want to be in the same locker room as Vick, and reporters all want their exclusive interview.
Will Leitch was the latest to catch up with the most polarizing figure in the NFL for the upcoming edition of GQ, and of course there is no shortage of delving into the Pro Bowl quarterback's criminal past. Vick also talked about his decision to sign with the Eagles though, admitting he didn't necessarily want to wear midnight green--as if it were some sort of bombshell.
"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."
It's a line that's already garnered quite a bit of attention, but why would this have been his first choice? At the time, Donovan McNabb was still firmly entrenched as the franchise quarterback, and if something happened to Five, the coaches were also high on Kevin Kolb. When the Eagles signed Vick, there didn't appear to be even a remote path that would lead him to become the starting quarterback here.
Furthermore, it shouldn't really come as any surprise Vick wasn't overly thrilled with the situation, considering he had an escape plan built in to his first contract. The two-year deal was structured in such a way that the Eagles either needed to trade or release Vick after one season, otherwise they owed him a hefty bonus that would drive up the cost much higher than normal for a reserve quarterback.
It just so happened by that time, no serious suitors remained. There simply wasn't much of a market for Vick in 2010, and after shipping McNabb to Washington, Andy Reid suddenly had a need for a veteran backup behind the unproven Kolb. The rest is history.
Even before that though, Vick made it perfectly clear he wouldn't be satisfied spending another season primarily on the bench, occasionally subbing in to run a handful of Wildcat plays. Asked during last year's off-season if he could reprise that role, Vick responded:
"It would be a tough decision to make. I would really have to take a lot of things into consideration. The fact that I want to be a starter."
"[If] another opportunity presented itself, it would be even better."
Meanwhile, Leitch's article goes on to suggest Vick may have been steered toward Philadelphia, which both the quarterback and the league have quickly come out and denied. If Cincinnati or Buffalo did in fact have offers on the table for Vick, based on his not-so-hidden agenda, it's not difficult to understand why he might have preferred those scenarios.
With that in mind, it's also difficult not to get the feeling Vick's choice was influenced by somebody close to him. Everything he has said and done seemed largely motivated by his goal of regaining his status as a superstar QB in the NFL. While the best possible destination for him was almost undoubtedly in Philly, where the only immediate pressure was on improving, the fastest possible route would have been someplace where there was less stability.
What's truly important today is not how Vick felt about signing here at the time, but that he recognizes how critical the correct decision was for rehabilitating his career. He could've gone and played right away somewhere else, but not likely ever enjoy the success--team or individual--he is poised to have with the Eagles in 2011. Thankfully, Vick really seems to understand that now.
"The problem was that I wasn't given the liberty to do certain things when I was young. The reason I became a better player was because I came to Philly."