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Vick denies Goodell told him to pick Eagles; QB eyed starting role with Bills, GQ says

Michael Vick is thankful he's now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, but at one time he believed the Buffalo Bills would be a better fit for hims.

He would have preferred playing for the Bills or Cincinnati Bengals, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urged him to select Philadelphia, according to a GQ Magazine article.

On Thursday, Vick began to back away from statements in the article.

After his release from federal prison in 2009, Vick wanted to go somewhere he could be the starting quarterback, and he told GQ that Buffalo and Cincinnati were better options. Both teams wanted him, and Buffalo would have likely made him the starting quarterback while the Eagles already had Donovan McNabb and backup Kevin Kolb.

Then McNabb was traded to Washington and Kolb got injured, clearing the lane for Vick to resume his role as one of the league's premier quarterbacks.

"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," Vick told GQ. "Being the third-team quarterback is nothing to smile about. Cincinnati and Buffalo were better options."

But after meeting with Goodell and other NFL officials, Vick was persuaded to go to the Eagles as a third-stringer -- a situation he says he is now grateful he accepted. "And I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation," Vick told the magazine.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon said Thursday: "We were made aware of [the magazine article] today and, simply put, Michael Vick is a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, and we don't comment on another player from another organization."

Vick issued a statement through the Eagles clarifying what he told the 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 [Andy] 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."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league did not guide Vick to Philadelphia.

"Michael Vick's decision on where to play to put himself in the best position to succeed was entirely his own," Aiello said. "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."

At the time, Vick had not played since 2006 after an August 2007 conviction for running a dog-fighting operation, which led to a 23-month federal prison sentence. He was released from home confinement July 20, 2009; eight days later, Goodell lifted his suspension.

The same day Brandon, then the Bills' chief operating officer and general manager, told The News the Bills weren't interested in bringing in Vick. "We wouldn't have any interest at this time," he said. "We're comfortable with our roster as it stands right now."

Trent Edwards was the Bills' starting quarterback and was backed up by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Gibran Hamdan.

Goodell reinstated Vick with stipulations. He was free after serving 18 months in prison to participate in regular-season games as early as Week 6 of the 2009 season. He was able to take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and participate in the final two preseason games.

But weeks later rampant rumors of an impending signing of Vick by the Bills swirled throughout Western New York, and a source indicated the team was in negotiations with Vick. He would have teamed up with the Bills other significant offseason acquisition: wide receiver Terrell Owens.

But a Buffalo News poll indicated fans didn't want the Bills to sign the controversial quarterback, with 58 percent saying they were against the deal.

Cincinnati was not the place if Vick was seeking a starting role. In 2009, the Bengals had $100 million quarterback Carson Palmer on the roster and, barring injury, Vick would have been his backup. Palmer has since retired from football.

As for the Bills, it's debatable how much Vick would have helped the franchise. The 2009 season was one of the more dysfunctional in team history.

The Bills lacked a definitive final decision maker in the football department, which allowed coach Dick Jauron to have more power than warranted.

Jauron fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert just 10 days before the season opener and replaced him with quarterback coach Alex Van Pelt.

Jauron lasted nine games before being fired.

News Sports Reporter Mark Gaughan contributed to this report.

email: rmckissic@buffnews.com