Police: Vick never mentioned 'stash box'
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Michael Vick said Thursday that the water bottle seized two months ago by authorities at Miami International Airport was a jewelry box.
Vick came under scrutiny in January after police said the seized water bottle smelled of marijuana and had a secret compartment, but lab tests found no evidence of drugs. Speaking publicly for the first time since the incident, the Atlanta quarterback said the bottle was a hiding place for earrings and jewelry.
"I have had that bottle for years, for a long time," Vick told reporters gathered for the Falcons' announcement about the trade of Matt Schaub, Vick's backup.
"If you had seen the bottle, you would have never known there was any jewelry in there," he said. "I have had things stolen out of hotels. But I had never checked it through the airport."
The Miami-Dade Police Department disagreed with Vick's description of the situation.
"That's the first we've heard of that," Detective Nelda Fonticella, spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked if Vick was carrying jewelry in the bottle. "If he has any kind of problem with the way things were handled, then he needs to talk to internal affairs."
According to the newspaper, no documents related to the incident had any mention of jewelry, including the police report and the Florida state attorney's case memo.
When asked to view the surveillance video of the incident, the Miami-Dade Police Department told the AJC its copy of the video had been destroyed. The Transportation Security Administration declined to release its copy of the video, citing national security concerns.
In the trade for Schaub, Atlanta swapped first-round picks with Houston and acquired second-round picks in the next two drafts by dealing the backup QB to the Texans. The Falcons now have the eighth overall pick in this year's draft.
The trade signals to Vick that the starting quarterback job is his, but general manager Rich McKay said that was not the reason the trade was made.
"As a restricted free agent, this was the year if we were going to be involved in a move [involving Schaub]," McKay said. "After this year he was going anyway."
Vick said he was excited about playing under new coach Bobby Petrino, who he met shortly after the water bottle was seized in Miami.
"That was the first day I had to walk in and meet him," Vick said. "I had to go through that with him, and he brushed it off, and we talked about family and football and what I needed to do to get ready. That was very uplifting to me."
Vick said he did not speak out at the time because he felt everyone had rushed to judgment.
"Nobody wanted to listen to me," he said. "I was under the microscope. I didn't do anything wrong and people wrote this and said that. They didn't know the story. When it came back that I was cleared, they said all this and knocked me down and kicked me around. Everything was false.
"I knew what the situation was, and I knew what the turnout was."
Vick said he cooperated at the airport and throughout the process.
"We went through all of this because there was a little water at the top," Vick said. "I told them it was my stash box for jewelry. That is what I told everybody, but that wasn't written.
"As for the smell and where that came from, I sat in the airport for another hour and 30 minutes. If there was something wrong, we could have handled the situation on the spot."
Vick threw for 2,474 yards and 20 touchdowns, and became the first NFL quarterback to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season last year, but the Falcons finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. He expressed enthusiasm Thursday for Petrino's new offense and the coach's statement that he'll be allowed to audible at the line.
"It says a lot for him that he came in here and didn't say he was going to gradually work me into calling my own plays," Vick said. "He is going to let me do it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.