Pittsburgh, Pa. -- In a recent interview with GQ, that was posted on the magazine's website today, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said that he did not originally want to sign with the Eagles after he was released from prison, but that commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL steered him away from options like the Bengals and Bills and toward Philadelphia.
Since Vick's comments were reported, the league has been criticized for interfering in the process of where Vick would sign, post-incarceration.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, responded to those allegations with the following statement, delivered in an e-mail:
"Michael Vick's decision on where to play to put himself in the best position to succeed was entirely his own. 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."
Vick then issued the following statement through an Eagles spokesman:
"I felt it was necessary to put out a statement today clarifying the article in GQ Magazine. I did speak with many people, but the decision to sign in Philadelphia was based on my discussions with my agent, my family and with Coach Reid. And after those discussions, it became clear to me that this was the place I wanted to play and resume my NFL career. The Commissioner never told me to sign or not sign with particular teams. Again, I want to make it perfectly clear that this was a decision I made and, as I have said numerous times before, I'm very happy with the way it has worked out for me and my family."
Vick, in the interview with GQ, said that he preferred Cincinnati and Buffalo, at first, because he would have been a deep reserve with the Eagles.
"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," Vick said.
But Vick said that Roger Goodell and others persuaded him to sign with the Eagles, a more stable team and out of the spotlight. "I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation," Vick said.
Some Bengals and Bills fans are apparently upset over the perceived slight, including former Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas, who questioned Goodell and the league office during a call to WGR radio.
"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 [Bills owner Ralph] Wilson needs to give the Commissioner a call and see what happened.
"It was wrong. I think there needs to be an investigation."