I’m going to be totally honest with you here. I’ve never been a big fan of Jeff Lurie’s. Nice guy, but I generally considered him to be an empty suit.
If I needed an answer about something that had to do with his football team or the NFL, I went to club president JoeBanner, not Lurie.
Lurie has owned the Eagles for 15 years and frankly, I can’t remember a single instance where he said anything substantive.
I wasn’t at the NovaCare Complex for Michael Vick’s news conference. Was up in Albany, N.Y., at the New York Giants’ training camp getting reaction from their players and coaches on the Vick signing and how it might change life in the NFC East.
It wasn’t until a few hours ago that I finally had the opportunity to sit down and read the transcripts from the news conference, including Lurie’s comments at the end.
All I can say is wow.
Before a question was asked, Lurie went into great detail explaining how much he had wrestled with the idea of signing Vick and why he finally agreed to it. His brutal honesty about the disgust he felt for what Vick did and why he became willing to put himself in the eye of a storm and give the guy a second chance was impressive. It just might’ve been his most impressive public moment in the decade-and-a-half he’s been the Eagles’ owner.
``Frankly, the legend of Michael Vick will be determined as we go forward,’’ Lurie said. ``It won’t be determined on the field of football. His life, he will never, ever be able to recover from what he criminally and murderously took part in. But he has an opportunity to create a legend where maybe he can be a force in stopping the horrendous cruelty to animals.
``In spending time with Michael, I think he deserves that opportunity. He’s going to have to prove it in actions, not words. I can only read his eyes so much. I can only read his emotions so much. He’s going to have to prove to Philadelphia, to the country, to the National Football League, to human beings. . . that he is committed. . . to save more animals than has been been responsible for eliminating. He’s probably one of the few that could probably pull this off because of how bad his actions have been.
``This is not a slam dunk. He’s going to have to be absolutely committed to be proactive. If we don’t have an extremely proactive player here off the field, then this is a terrible decision. It’s going to be initially disappointing to some people that we have given him the second chance, and I’m aware of that. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are very difficult. My hope is that, as we go forward, that Michael will prove his value in society.
``Whether he becomes a good football player again is possible. But more importantly for Michael and for the National Football League, he has an opportunity to be a very valuable member of society, and that’s the goal here.
The easy thing for Lurie Friday would’ve been to stay in his office and say nothing. Let Andy Reid explain why the Eagles brought Vick in. Let him take the heat.
But he didn’t. He came out and explained himself as well as he’s explained anything in 15 years.
For our reports from Vick's first practice, the return of Brian Westbrook and Sheldon Brown's injury, click here.
For reaction from around the NFC East to the Vick signing, click here.