Vick Didn't Want to Come to Philly, and I Don't Blame Him

Vick Didn't Want to Come to Philly, and I Don't Blame Him

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."

>> The Impossible, Inevitable Redemption of Michael Vick [GQ]
>> NFL says Vick wasn't steered to Philadelphia [PFT]
>> Vick Statement On GQ Article [PE.com]

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).