Eagles Not Cutting Vick
The Philadelphia Eagles released a statement Saturday refuting an earlier report from the Associated Press that the team was strongly considering releasing quarterback Michael Vick.
"Any report or speculation that suggests the Eagles are considering releasing Vick are not true," the Eagles' statement said. "We will continue to gather information and monitor the situation and we will not have any further comment until that process is complete."
The Associated Press, citing a person familiar with the teams' thinking, reported Saturday morning that the Eagles were considering releasing Vick in the wake of a shooting that followed the quarterback's birthday celebration in Virginia Beach last week.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the team might cut Vick no matter what police conclude during their investigation of the shooting.
However, that report was quickly refuted, with reports from ESPN and the Philadelphia Inquirer citing team sources denying that the team is close to cutting Vick.
"Under normal circumstances, we would not issue a public statement regarding a matter still under investigation. However, due to the intense speculation that exists, we believe it is important to make a statement this afternoon regarding Michael Vick," the Eagles' statement said.
The Eagles' statement continued: "Following the incident that occurred in Virginia on the morning of June 25, Michael and his representatives promptly contacted law enforcement agencies, the Philadelphia Eagles and the National Football League. The Eagles were provided with very detailed information during that discussion as to what took place at the event. Those details have not changed in any way over the course of the last week. Our investigation to this point has confirmed and has been consistent with the information that was originally communicated to us."
The incident under investigation reportedly involves Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant in the dogfighting case that landed the quarterback in federal prison, according to Vick's attorney Larry Woodward. Vick is legally prohibited from associating with Phillips as a condition of his release on probation. Phillips was reportedly the victim of gunfire that took place outside of the Guadalajara Mexican restaurant and nightclub in Virginia Beach, where Vick was celebrating his 30th birthday.
Vick has said he had nothing to do with the shooting. He also said he reported the incident to the Eagles and to the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell told the former Atlanta Falcons star after reinstating him last season that his margin for error was "extremely limited."
"I want to assure everyone that I had nothing to do with that incident," Vick said in a statement provided to The Associated Press and other media outlets. "I left the restaurant prior to it occurring and did not witness what happened."
Woodward told The AP on Tuesday that Vick left the establishment at least 10 minutes, and perhaps as many as 20 minutes, before the shooting took place. But Allen Fabijan, spokesman for Guadalajara, said Wednesday that he had video that contradicted Woodward's timeline.
The time-stamped footage from a surveillance camera outside the club's entrance shows a car with Vick inside leaving at 2:07 a.m. -- about 3 minutes before the shooting one block away.
The waiting car with Vick inside pulled away at about 2:07 a.m., heading in the direction of the eventual shooting. Numerous people were visible lingering in front of the club for several minutes until, at 2:10:55, they appear to be startled, with some ducking for cover.
Bernstein, who said authorities have a copy of the video, said the first 911 call about the shooting was received at 2:11.
Fabijan said police have asked him not to release the video, but he allowed The AP to view the grainy footage.
Vick's face isn't discernible; a man whom Fabijan said is Vick appears moving toward a parked car at 2:04 a.m. A crowd quickly gathered, and Fabijan said Vick accommodated fans trying to get an autograph, to pose for a photo or to shake hands -- so much so that a club security guard eventually moved in to disperse the crowd.
Police said earlier Thursday that they haven't ruled out Vick as a suspect or a person of interest in their investigation. Police spokesman Adam Bernstein said they will not discuss specifics of the investigation and that no one has been named as a suspect or arrested.
Detectives interviewed Vick on Monday, and Bernstein said at the time that the quarterback wasn't a suspect in the case.
On Friday, a team source told the Inquirer that Vick will remain as a backup quarterback for the Eagles "unless further details emerge" linking him to the shooting. According to the Inquirer, the Eagles donít believe Vick had any connection to the shooting, while a source conceded his only error was bad judgement.
Vick is entering his second season with the Eagles and is due to earn $5.2 million. A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Vick is Kevin Kolb's backup and the most experienced quarterback on the roster following the trade of Donovan McNabb.
The Eagles were heavily criticized by animal rights activists and fans for signing Vick last summer less than a month after he finished serving 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation.
Team owner Jeffrey Lurie called Vick's actions "horrific" and "despicable." He said he did serious "soul-searching" before agreeing to sign him.
Vick was a model citizen off the field and in the locker room during his first season with the Eagles. He was popular among his teammates, who voted him winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.
But this latest incident could end up costing Vick his job, even if he's exonerated of any wrongdoing.
Vick was expected to play a major role in Philadelphia's offense running the wildcat formation. Instead, he was used sparingly. Vick completed 6 of 13 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown and ran for 95 yards and two scores. He tossed a 76-yard TD pass in a 34-14 loss to Dallas in the playoffs.
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