BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Michael Vick arrived at Lehigh on Monday for his first training camp in three years.
With one more slip, the Eagles quarterback acknowledged, it could be his last.
Usually, on the day Eagles rookies and selected veterans report to Lehigh University, the subject line is the team's prospects for the season. But Vick's appearance and his first long-form comments on the June 25 shooting that occurred after his birthday party overshadowed anything football related.
Even though the NFL officially cleared Vick to play when practice opens Tuesday morning, and even though the Eagles and Andy Reid have exonerated their backup quarterback - the Eagles coach called Vick a "very nice" person on three separate occasions Monday - Vick said his leash is short.
"I'm definitely on my last chance. I know that," Vick said. "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 will probably have me kicked out of this league or banned forever."
Reid didn't paint the situation as dire. Asked if Vick had any more chances, Reid said, "The law enforcement people didn't find anything there that he was guilty of, so I'm not sure about the chance part." According to Reid, Vick was simply guilty of not being "aware of the situation he put himself in."
On June 24, a party in honor of Vick was held at Guadalajara's, a Virginia Beach restaurant not far from his hometown of Newport News, where he and several others once ran a dogfighting operation. Dubbed "Michael Vick's All White 30th Birthday Bash," the party was open to the public for a $50 per-person fee.
Vick said the guests were mostly family and friends and that he "didn't expect to get a certain type of crowd.
"If I could recheck and do it all over again I would listen to my mom and have it private and let her and my fiancé orchestrate the party," Vick said. "I didn't do it and that goes to show that mama knows best. . . . You got to start listening to your mom at some point."
There were various reports that Vick was involved in an altercation at the party with Quanis Phillips, a codefendant in the dogfighting case and the man eventually shot. The Eagles have labeled this claim as a "mischaracterization." Vick did not answer when asked if he had any interaction with Phillips that night.
He reportedly left the restaurant at approximately 2 a.m., four minutes before Phillips was shot in the leg outside. Vick said that he was told of the shooting 15 to 20 minutes after it occurred.
"I was devastated because I knew the events that were happening that surrounded that," Vick said.
Does that mean he knew the shooting was bound to happen?
"I won't sit here and say I knew something was going to happen," Vick said. "I knew the events surrounding what happened and what took place outside. But that was about it. We would have never thought that somebody was going to get shot."
Police indentified the suspect a few weeks ago but are unable to press charges because, they said, the victim and several witnesses are uncooperative. Vick said that he did not know who shot Phillips.
Reid was one of the first people Vick called following the incident.
"He wasn't happy about it," Vick said. "It wasn't a pleasant conversation with him, nor was it a pleasant conversation with [mentor and former NFL coach Tony Dungy]. . . . I probably cried more than I ever did in my entire life because I knew that I hurt a lot of people."
Vick said that he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week and that he plans to meet with him "face-to-face" and look him "in the eyes" when he visits Eagles camp Aug. 3.
Vick was signed by the Eagles last August just as camp broke. This camp will be his first since he was suspended from the NFL and served 18 months in a federal prison.
"I'm confident in my abilities," Vick said. "I know what I can do. I know I'm still one of the top elite players."