Friday, August 14, 2009

Full transcript of Reid, Dungy, Vick press conference

Andy Reid’s Opening Remarks:

“The Philadelphia Eagles organization is obviously very excited to have [QB] Michael Vick onboard with us. Not only as a football player, we all know what kind of football player Michael is and was and will be but also, he has aggressively attacked the issue that he was presented with and done it in a manner that is not only proactive, but sincere. He’s got a great supporting cast not only with his family, but also with Coach [Tony] Dungy and also with the commissioner of the National Football League in Roger Goodell. With that I will turn it over to Coach Dungy.”

Tony Dungy’s Opening Remarks:

“Thank you, Andy. I appreciate you still referring to me as coach even though I am not a coach anymore, but it is really an honor to be here. I got involved in this process a couple of months ago just by going in and speaking with Mike when he was in Leavenworth and we talked for a long time about things that had gone on in his life, but we talked more about what he wanted to do in the future, and that was what I was concerned with. I really got the sense that he wanted to do some great things, he wanted to be a positive role model for young people, and he wanted to give back to his family and with that in mind we made a commitment to stick with each other and continue to talk through things and continue to bounce things off each other. Commissioner Goodell found out about that conversation and when he talked to Mike he asked me if I would come onboard on behalf of the league in a formal role and I agreed to do that, I was happy to do that. I was excited to see what transpired. When he got reinstated several people called me, several coaches wanted to ask about my dealing with Mike and my thoughts. Andy was one of them, and we had a long conversation about where I felt Mike was and I am really happy that things turned out this way. I am proud of the Philadelphia Eagles. I know they didn’t do this as a charity measure, they feel like Mike is going to help their football team and be a weapon for them. But they also stepped out to give a man a second chance and I think that’s important. I have done a lot of work with inmates and ex-offenders in Tampa for the last thirteen years. The last project I was involved with in Indianapolis, was getting involved with Mayor Greg Ballard there on a re-entry program. We have roughly 4,000 inmates every year that come back into the city of Indianapolis and Marion County there and we wanted to start some things to make it easier for those young men to come back and be productive and I thin that’s what this is all about. I am proud of the Eagles. I think it’s going to work out great. I told Mike I didn’t think he could be with a better organization. From my dealings with Andy and [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie and [Eagles president] Joe Banner, I know they’re going to have as great support system here in place for him. And I am also very proud of Donovan McNabb. He went out of his way to tell Coach Reid we should make this happen. This guy could help us, but also he’s a friend and I want to make it good for him. So, I think we’re just seeing a symbol of some great leadership and Christian forgiveness. I am excited for Mike, happy for him and just want to be helpful in any way possible. I told Andy I don’t want to overstep my bounds, but I’ll be here to help him in any capacity he wants and that basically why I’m here and why I’m involved. So, with that I’ll turn it over to Mike.”

Michael Vick’s Opening Remarks:

“First of all I would like to express my gratification to Jeff Lurie and Coach Andy Reid for making me a part of this organization and giving me an opportunity. I know, as we all know, in the past I have made some mistakes, I have done some terrible things, I made a horrible mistake. And now, I want to be part of the solution and not the problem. I am making conscious efforts within the community, working with the Humane Society, hopefully I can do that locally and continue with my disciplined efforts in bringing awareness to animal cruelty and dog fighting in the inner cities and our communities. I want to say a special thanks to Donovan McNabb. He’s a great friend and for reaching out to Andy and giving Andy time to think about the decision that he made and bringing me in. I know now that playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right and I want to do whatever is necessary to be the best ambassador for the NFL and the community. I want to send a special thanks to my family: my fiancée Kijafa [Frink], my mom, my dad, everybody who was influential in helping me change as an individual. I’d like to say thank you to Commissioner Goodell, I want to say thank you to Tony Dungy for serving as my mentor and also being influential in my walk and helping redefine me as an individual and giving me the proper advice and being there and having an open dialog with me at all times. I want to say thank you to my agent, Joel Segal, who has been there through the ups and downs, through the hardest times in my life, Judy Smith as well as all the people who have contributed to my comeback. I know everybody is asking, ‘Why Philadelphia?’ First off, I think it is one of the flagship organizations--great tradition, great staff, great organization, winning team. They have a great team in place and I just want to be a part of that great tradition and give this team every opportunity to win a Super Bowl. I’m considering this my first year. My first year back, just trying to fit in wherever I can and get acclimated and do whatever I can to help this team succeed and reach the Super Bowl. With that said, I know I probably left some people out that I need to send a special thanks to but you all know who you are. I am going to continue to do service in our community, continue to do all the right things and continue to help young individuals in this world from going down the same path that I went down. I’m excited about the opportunity and with that said I’d like to open it up to questions and I’d be willing to answer anything.

On why he went down the path that he did:

“I made poor decisions in my life and I had to reach a turning point and prison definitely did it for me. It was totally unnecessary and uncalled for.”

On how it feels to have a chance to come back after all this time:

“It’s a surreal feeling right now. I couldn’t have envisioned it two years ago. I was optimistic that it would happen one day but I knew it was going to be a long process. As a people, we fear the unknown and I am just happy that I have the opportunity now. I am glad that Coach Reid and the rest of the organization stepped forward, Donovan was very instrumental in that and I’m glad that I got the opportunity and a second chance. I won’t disappoint.”

On why he is willing to come back and not be the focal point of the offense:

“I have been away from the game for two years and I’ve got to start somewhere, I’ve got to crawl before I walk. I can’t imagine going out after a two-year hiatus, going out and trying to be a starter for a football team, I just don’t think it can happen. With as much God-given abilities as I have, I don’t think that I would be able to do it. I think I could, but I wouldn’t risk it. I just need time to get my feet wet and get acclimated. I thought this was the perfect situation, perfect scenario. I can come in and I can learn from Donovan, one of the premier quarterbacks in the game, one of the best at it. Everything that he’s learned and the way he’s been polished just comes from Coach Reid. I want get with those two and do as much as I can to become a complete quarterback and I have time to do it.”

On how he shows his doubters that he has changed:

“I was wrong for what I did. Everything that happened at that point and time in my life was wrong and unnecessary. And, to the life of me to this day I can’t understand why I was involved in such a pointless activity and why I risked so much at the pinnacle of my career. I was naïve to a lot of things. But, I figure if I can help more animals than I hurt, then I am contributing, I am doing my part.”

On whether he believes there is a crime that is not deserving of a second chance:

“I think everybody deserves a second chance. We all have issues, we all deal with certain things and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you’re committed, then I think you deserve it. But, you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that.”

On whether there was a time when Vick knew what he was doing was wrong but still did it anyway:

“We all use the excuse, ‘It was part of our culture.’ I don’t think that’s an excuse. I was kind of abiding by that rule at the time. As I grew older and as things started to transpire and then once I went to prison I had plenty of time to think about what I did. I’ve seen people’s reactions and I’ve been to that point that I never really cared. I won’t say I didn’t care, but I never thought about it. Now I understand people care about their animals. They care about their health, their welfare, the protection of animals and now I do. That’s why I say if I can help more than I hurt, then I am contributing. I am doing what I need to do.”

On what he thinks the fans reaction will be:

“Hopefully it’s positive. [In] the position I play and in the National Football League in general fans require a lot out of players and we have to go out and put on a great performance, we have to put on a show for them, we have to win at the end of the day. Sometimes they are good to you, sometimes they’re not so good, but that’s a part of the game and it’s a part of this business.”

On how he plans on dealing with the possibility of a negative reaction:

“I have to keep pushing forward and try to do more good than bad and make plays when I have an opportunity to play down the road because that’s when it’s going to be. I have to do the things that are necessary to not get a negative reaction, but until then it’s life and I have to deal with it. I have to make a lot of people believe that I can.”

On what he plans to do off of the field and in the community to prove to the community that he is worth a second chance:

“I think my actions will speak louder than my words. To be proactive and to be involved in the community, people will see that in due time. I’ve partnered up with the Humane Society and we’ve constantly been working hard to reach out to certain inner cities and certain communities to make sure that we attack the problem.”

On whether he has any pets:

“No.”

Tony Dungy

On Vick’s other options, how serious they were and what separated Philadelphia:

“As I said I did talk to about a dozen coaches. You don’t know exactly how serious things were and I don’t think that’s important. I know in talking to Mike we really focused on this situation and I told him what I knew about Mr. Lurie, about Andy, about the organization, he knew a lot of the players and Mike made this decision, but I was 100 percent behind it. I think it’s a great place for him to be supported.”

Michael Vick

On what kind of shape he is in:

“I’m ready to go. I’ve maintained, I’ve stayed in shape and I’ve done all the things to keep up my physical physique. It was hard when I was away but over the last two months I have been able to manage and do things to maintain my weight and my build and hopefully my speed. I’ve tested myself, tested the waters and I feel great.”

Tony Dungy

On taking a chance on mentoring Vick:

“I don’t think I took a chance. I did what I hope someone would do for me if I made a mistake. When I went into Leavenworth one of the questions I asked Mike was, ‘Where was the Lord in all this.’ He explained to me his spiritual walk growing up and the fact that when he got to the NFL that was one of the mistakes that he made. He kind of felt like he didn’t need the Lord anymore. With some of the things that happened, he felt like he needed to turn back and that’s when I really felt that this young man is going in the right direction.”

Michael Vick

On when he realized what he was doing was wrong:

“There was a point in my life when before I was convicted or before the allegations even came out when I knew it was wrong and I felt that it was wrong. Just when I was trying to turn the corner and it was too late, but everything happens for a reason and there is a reason I was sent to Kansas and a reason I was convicted. I was conscious of the fact that it was wrong and to this day I have to deal with that shame and that embarrassment.”

Andy Reid

On why he chose to sign Michael Vick at this time:

“I will tell you this: not everybody agrees with every decision that has been made no matter where it is or what organization it is in the National Football League or in Philadelphia. I know some people will not agree, but on the other hand I think the majority will. Fortunately, in this country if we handle ourselves properly we are given an opportunity for second chances. I think people understand.”

On second chances and the organization firing an employee who blogged about a decision he disagreed with:

“This is about Michael.”

On whether the press conference is also about second chances:

“It’s about Michael’s second chance, yes.”

On the emphasis the organization puts on character and how signing Vick meshes with the team’s overall image:

“I expect the public to have questions initially, which is obviously taking place, but at that same time I trust that we do the right things here, that we have done our homework and that Michael himself has his life going in a positive direction. I think with that the majority of the public wants Michael to do well and that’s us as human beings. We give people an opportunity, as long as they’ve taken the right steps they are given an opportunity and again that’s what makes this country such a great thing and the National Football League such a great thing.”

Michael Vick

On how he comes to terms with the fact that some people will never forgive him:

“I understand. I would hope that they would [forgive me]. I committed an act that was cruel and it was unethical. It was inhumane, so I understand to a certain degree but our country is a country of second chances and I’ve paid my debt to society. I spent two years in prison, away from my fiancé [Kijafa], away from my mom and my family, away from my two kids and that was a humbling experience. I can’t explain how deeply hurt and how sorry I was once everything went down and I had to explain to my three kids what had happened, what had transpired, and it was because of daddy’s faults. That was the toughest thing. I asked them for a second chance to be a better father, to do the right things and to show them the way and how things are supposed to be done.”

On how old his children are:

“My oldest son Mitez is seven. My oldest daughter Jada is four, going on fourteen, and my youngest daughter [London] is one.”

Andy Reid

On what the reward is that will outweigh the risk:

“First of all, we obviously did our homework on the background part. You’re asking me the football side of it and the reward on the field. I think we know Michael Vick is, and I’m speaking in the past - a few years ago – was one of the greatest quarterbacks in the National Football League. He has tremendous athletic ability and I’ve always said to the people of Philadelphia that I would try to bring in the best players that could help our football team to achieve the highest goal and that’s a Super Bowl. Michael will contribute. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how he’s going to contribute because I’m not naïve to think that the rest of the National Football League’s not watching this and I’ve got to play those guys. I will say, though, that he will contribute. You can ask defensive coordinators on other teams if they are worried about that.”

Michael Vick

On whether he would be content playing a role other than quarterback:

“At this point right now, I’m just blessed to have an opportunity to be here with this organization. My goal is to come back and get acclimated. Whatever Coach Reid decides on, that’s what I will do. I’m just here to contribute and help win a Super Bowl.”

Tony Dungy

On whether he would consider signing Vick if he was still coaching the Colts:

“That’s a hypothetical question. I would have talked to him and seen where he’d fit in and probably with our offense I would have probably asked him if he would consider playing another position, but I would have liked to have him on my team and we would have seen how it worked out, hypothetically.”

Michael Vick

On whether he has spoken with QB Donovan McNabb:

“I spoke to Donovan and we talked about how we were just going to work. We are going to go to work. We are going to watch as much film as we can and we’re just going to work out as much as we can and we’re going to pull each other a long. I’m along way away from playing, so he wanted to take time with me to get me to a point where I’m ready to play.”

On his suspension:

“I respect Commissioner Goodell’s decision. I think it was fair. When I’ll have an opportunity to play I don’t know as of right now, but I’m optimistic it will happen soon.

On what number he will wear:

“Seven.”

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