Lurie Speaks On Vick At State Of Eagles Address
By Lance Epstein
A few weeks ago, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was forced to ponder whether Michael Vick was going to be an Eagle in 2010 after a shooting at Vick’s 30th birthday party in Virginia Beach.
Lurie said he had to " deal with the facts," of four separate investigations to make his decision on if he should cut the ultra-talented quarterback. As Lurie addressed the public today, he seemed annoyed by the questions he was being asked (well just the Vick ones). One of the questions that he was asked repeatedly was if he would shed more light on the investigation [like if Vick had interaction with Quanis Phillips].
"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."
Rumors have been swirling since the shooting that Vick had an interaction [more of a altercation] with Phillips in the early hours of June 25. This would have been against Vick’s probation since he is prohibited from having any contact with co-defendants from the dog fighting scandal or felons. Once again, Lurie was asked to elaborate on the matter.
"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."
Another topic that Lurie decided to touched on was whether he gave Vick a third chance in his career due to his so-called "lapse of judgment."
“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.”
Nevertheless, Lurie believes that Vick has been "agent of change," since signing with the club. Additionally, Lurie has seen Vick be the ultimate teammate, but more importantly he has been involved in community efforts with kids to prove he has changed for the better.
“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.”
One thing is for sure after today Lurie refuses to deal with the positive or negative ramifications that come with the signing of Vick. Instead Lurie is more worried about winning.
"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. That's not me." Lurie said.
Whether Lurie wants to deal with the headlines or the public bashing, he has put himself in the line of fire. The risk for him and the franchise when signing Vick was extremely high. His great talents came with a heavy price. If he failed to live up to the expectations of being a good samaritan that were placed upon him when reinstated into the NFL then the organization would be questioned relentlessly. This means even if Vick made the slightest mistake, the Eagles knew questions like this would be never ending.
While Lurie seems to be annoyed by the never-ending questions on the Vick situation, he has no one else to blame but himself and his prized free agent signing of last year.
Some other quotes from his state of team address:
On changing landscape of the NFL:
"We're starting a new decade and it's an exciting time for everyone from the fans, the NFL, the business model and everyone around this sport. There's so many changes around the game of football but the business models around the NFL are changing, too."
On 18 game schedule:
"I think it is long overdue. One of the things I have realized and it has been an embarrassment, fans don't like the long preseason. The quality is not there. You have to balance getting ready for a season and I think two games and all the offseason conditioning that goes on is enough. Is it perfect? No, but I think the fans have spoken. They would absolutely rather see a 18-game regular season schedule (two preseason and two regular season added). I am not really in favor of expanding the over all games. I don't think we want to get like other sports where there is so many games. The physical wear and tear is a factor; it is already a factor. We would have to figure out both roster sizes and flexibility rules and lots of things like that. I think we have been slow to react. I hope in a new collective bargaining agreement we can go for that as soon as possible."