After arriving around 4 pm on the first day of the 2010 training camp, a contrite Michael Vick addressed the media about being cleared to play by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell following the shooting incident that took place after Vick's 30th birthday party in Virginia and the lessons he's learned from the process.
"Everything in my life is a work in progress," Vick said. "I never thought that something like that would have happened. If I did, I would have never showed up. There were a lot of things that I could have done to avoid a situation like that, but that didn't take place. So that's why I blame myself. That's why I'm hurt; because I hurt so many people who were in my corner: Roger (Goodell), (head coach) Andy (Reid), (former Indianapolis Colts coach) Tony (Dungy) and this entire organization, all the people who played a part in giving me a second chance. It just goes to show you that you have to be cognizant every day of what you're doing."
Vick said that he spoke to Goodell for about 15-20 minutes last week, but that he'll talk further with the commissioner when he shows up to Eagles camp on August 3.
"You want to look a person like him in the eye," Vick said, "especially after he gave me an opportunity to come back and play in this league. So I would much rather look him in his eyes and tell him exactly what happened."
Vick said that he also spoke with Reid and Dungy shortly following the June 25 shooting of Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant of Vick's during his dog fighting trial whom Vick has disassociated with following his prison release last year.
"I spoke to Andy right after the evening happened," he said. "I told him what had transpired that night, that one of my co-defendants had been shot, and he wasn't happy about it. It wasn't a pleasant conversation with him, nor was it a pleasant conversation with Tony. It was very tough, it was difficult and it was hard for me to keep my composure because I knew what happened, I knew I should have never put myself in that situation. I probably never cried more in a 24-hour time ... in my entire life, because I knew that I hurt a lot of people. It really wasn't about me, it was about the people who gave me an opportunity and that's Roger, Andy and Tony."
And while he stared his NFL mortality in the mirror, Vick was still confident that while he did not make the best decisions, he was still innocent of any legal wrongdoing.
"I was scared about a lot of things," he said. "More so because I should have never put myself in that situation. All I want to do it play football, and I've been working so hard since the last two years of my life to restructure myself and to work on gaining the confidence of the people who put me in this position. So I was scared for my career, I was scared for my family, I was scared for myself, for my freedom. I know that I didn't do anything wrong, I knew what happened, and I knew that it was a situation that should have never occurred.
"I'm definitely on my last chance, I know that. I was just hoping that the truth would come out and everybody would hear that I had nothing to do with the event. But I know I'm on thin ice. I know this is it for me. I know I have to walk a fine line. Just the smallest thing could get me kicked out of this league or banned forever. So, it's a tough situation to be here, but I know and I'm confident that I won't put myself in harm's way."
Vick said that he learned that he simply can't afford to let his guard down, even for a moment. He also offered some important advice to anyone willing to listen.
"Day to day, you have to make sound, solid decisions and you can't have lapses of judgment. And that's what happened. I didn't take a lot of things into consideration," he said. "If I could reach back and do it all again, I would listen to my mom and have it private, let her orchestrate the party, and I didn't do it. And that goes to show that momma knows best and we all think we know certain things, and want to do what we want to do but you have to start listening to your mom at a certain point because she isn't going to tell you anything wrong."
On the football field, Vick is anxious to partake in his first training camp in three years. The lack of a training camp certainly was a detriment to Vick's assimilation back into the speed of the NFL game, so he plans on getting all of his reps over the next few weeks and re-establishing himself as one of the league's premier attractions.
"I'm going to have a good camp," he said, "it's all going to speak for itself. I'm confident in my abilities, I know what I can do, I know I'm still one of the top players in this game."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:58 p.m., July 26