BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that he used the information he obtained from four separate investigations in deciding whether to end his team's association with Michael Vick after a shooting was held outside the nightclub that was hosting the quarterback's birthday party.
Lurie said he had to "deal with the facts."
"I can’t deal with people that are happy we signed Michael Vick, aren’t happy we signed Michael Vick, want to create a headline, want to discuss it in different ways," Lurie said at training camp during his annual State of Team address. "That’s not me."
Lurie was asked if, after he learned of the facts, whether Vick had any interaction at the party with Quanis Phillips, the man that was shot in the leg and also a codefendant in Vick's dogfighting case.
"I don’t know that," Lurie said. "I’m just basing on the investigations exactly that there was no wrongdoing. We have been over this already."
There have been various reports and rumors that Vick and Phillips had an altercation at the party prior to the shooting that occurred in the early morning hours of June 25. Vick is also prohibited by his probation from have any contact with known felons or his codefendents. Lurie was asked to help clarify those rumors.
"The facts are that there was no wrongdoing, if obviously that was wrong that will become apparent," Lurie said. "You can only deal with the facts. That’s all you can deal with. I can’t sit here and deal with rumors, innuendoes and all sorts of things. It’s just not productive."
Vick refused to discuss details of what happened the night of his birthday party, and what interaction, if any, he had with Phillips.
“I won’t address the situation, what happened. Everything was put out there on the table from the beginning,” he said. “Any questions pertaining to football I will answer, but any questions pertaining to what happened that night I won’t answer, because I’m just trying to move forward, I feel like I’ve already answered those questions.”
Police have said Vick was not a suspect in the shooting and he was not charged with any crime, but it is still unclear exactly what happened that night and what involvement, if any, Vick had. Neither he, nor the NFL, nor the Eagles have revealed what their own investigations have found.
Vick found at Tuesday, after his meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, that would not be disciplined for his involvement in the shooting. The commissioner said that Vick would be held to "even higher standards," and that the league and the Eagles would help provide the quarterback with a support system.
Vick said he was “very relieved” at the NFL’s official decision.
“Now I can focus on football and that’s what I’ve been trying to do over the last couple weeks anyway, not trying to think about what the outcome could be, but just trying to move forward,” Vick said after the Eagles’ morning practice, his first meeting with reporters since sitting down with Goodell.
When the Eagles signed Vick last August after his 18-month stay in a federal prison, Lurie said that there would be no third chances and that Vick must be an "agent of change" to remain on the team. The owner was asked if he had indeed given Vick another chance after the shooting.
“You got to decide is that chance based on wrongdoing or a lapse of judgment to attend a party where he had no wrongdoing," Lurie said. "That’s, I think, for all of us an interesting question. Those that hated that we signed Michael Vick or were very upset that we signed Michael Vick – believe me I understand that completely – will probably be quicker to jump and say, ‘Showed lapse of judgment, that’s a huge mistake, end of career.’ I don’t feel that way.
"I feel as human beings that was a lapse of judgment. Nothing he did was factually creating any wrongdoing. He shouldn’t have been there, but he was trying to appease some people from his old neighborhood and family. So let’s give support, let’s not jump to judgment and let’s deal with facts. That’s the best, I think, a CEO can do.”
Vick said he also weighed how Vick was as a teammate and how he has been involved in the community in making his decision. He said he also believed Vick had been an agent of change since the controversial signing.
“I do but that’s a hard thing to measure because these are kids your dealing with that you hope he’s influencing," Lurie said. "From all the feedback I get and the actions he’s had it’s a unique case of somebody who has done some really bad things be able to explain himself and being able to explain, not just what animal cruelty, but the difficultly of leaving an environment you grew up with and trying to make a success of yourself after a tremendous failure.”
“I don’t know you can measure today, August, 2010 that there’s tremendous impetus for social change for that, but that gets multiplied over time. He’s going to have a lot of time to keep impacting kids.”
Vick said that abiding by the the higher standards of conduct requirement would be “no problem.”
“It’s no biggie, I’m a changed man anyway, so that’s going to be easy, trust me,” Vick said.
Asked about facing “zero tolerance” for missteps, Vick said athletes do it every day and still enjoy themselves.
“It’s not hard to live a zero tolerance life. You just put yourself in the right positions at all times and think through situations thoroughly,” Vick said.
He also said he would take extra support the NFL has offered, “whether I need it or not.”
“I think it will just be an extra thing to have in my back pocket. But for the most part, I’m going to walk the walk,” Vick said.
He said he feels “blessed” to be in his current situation, and last year had the most fun of his entire football career.
“If you look at my life over the last year I’ve been trying to do all the right things, whether it’s in the community or on the field, or with my family and I think that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Before the question and answer session ended, Vick, still a favorite among many fans who have clamored for his autograph at training camp, said his attention was now on the NFL season.
“It’s all about football now,” he said. “Being with the guys, building camaraderie, building chemistry and focusing on winning that first game.”