Michael Vick Biography, NFL Career, Scandal, Legal Battles

While at Virginia Tech, quarterback Michael Vick displayed early talent and earned NFL interest. He appeared to be achieving his promise after being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons until terrible decisions and criminal actions terminated his career. Before joining the Philadelphia Eagles, he did time in prison for illegal dog fighting. In 2017, he announced his retirement.

Early Life

Michael Dwayne Vick was born in Newport News, Virginia on June 26, 1980. Michael Vick, the second of four children born to Brenda Vick and Michael Boddie, grew up in a rough part of his hometown dominated by narcotics and gang activities.

Brenda and Michael maintained a solid household despite their circumstances. Michael, a sandblaster at a nearby shipyard who used to play football, appears to have had a special premonition about his son. According to one tale, Vick’s father cradled him in his arms, took him outside, and held him up to the night sky after he was born. “Behold the only thing greater than yourself,” he continued, echoing the words spoken by Omoro to his son, Kunta Kinte, in the film Roots.

Athletic Ability

Vick, like his father, who gave him his first football when he was three years old, demonstrated an early talent for the game. Vick became close to the football team’s coach, Tommy Reamon, a former World Football League standout, at Warwick High School. Vick was pushed by Reamon to improve his passing talents and enter the weight gym to beef up his thin body.

With the team’s offensive line in disarray, Reamon encouraged Vick to take advantage of his lightning speed by dashing out of the QB pocket and improving the offense. Vick thrived under his coach’s tutelage, and by his senior year, Vick, who throws left but is actually right-handed, was regarded as one of the country’s finest high school quarterbacks.

Vick turned rejected an opportunity to attend Syracuse University in favor of staying closer to home and signing with Virginia Tech in neighboring Blacksburg. The highly regarded Vick did not disappoint. After redshirting his freshman year, the 19-year-old quarterback led the Hokies to an unbeaten season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl, where they were upset by Florida State in the national championship game. Vick was selected Big East Offensive Player of the Year and was in third place in Heisman Trophy voting.

The following year, Vick and the Virginia Tech squad dropped in the rankings, but NFL scouts salivated at the thought of witnessing the QB — a 6-foot-1-inch quarterback who could throw the ball 80 yards — on the big stage. His physical prowess drew the attention of Major League Baseball, and the Colorado Rockies selected Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 MLB draft, despite the fact that he hadn’t played the game since he was 14.

NFL Career

Vick, on the other hand, didn’t give baseball any thought. He instead skipped his final two years of college to play in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons, desperate for a quarterback and a star, traded up to the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL draft to get him.

Vick received a six-year, $62 million contract with a $15 million signing bonus for becoming pro. After seeing limited action as a rookie, Vick took over as Atlanta’s primary quarterback the following season, guiding the Falcons to the playoffs and earning a spot in the Pro Bowl. Vick and his teammates won the NFC South in 2004, after an injury cut short his 2003 season. They were defeated in the NFC Championship game by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The script appeared to be going according to plan. The Falcons were now title contenders, and Vick was the franchise quarterback that the team had hoped for. That season, team officials extended Vick’s deal for a decade and $130 million.

Dog Fighting Scandal

There would be no Super Bowl parades, however. Vick’s life and career began to fall apart due to poor decision-making, a questionable group of acquaintances, and hubris. The Falcons’ fortunes deteriorated during the next two seasons. They finished around.500, and while Vick was putting up solid numbers, there were questions about his maturity and ability to deal with the stardom that had been thrust upon him.

While Vick had freely expressed his desire to leave Newport News (he frequently referred to it as “Bad Newz,” a nickname he subsequently gave his kennel and dog fighting organization), his hometown was never far behind him. Vick and his childhood mates had a genuine playground in his $3.8 million mansion in Duluth, Georgia.

But trouble looked to be right on Vick’s tail. Two men driving Vick’s vehicle were caught in 2004 for transporting a huge amount of marijuana. Vick was never charged. The following year, a woman accused him of infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease. The matter was settled out of court by the QB. However, more major problems arose two years later. Authorities investigating narcotics activities linked to Vick’s cousin raided a residence owned by the football star in Surry County, Virginia, in April 2007. The raid revealed an established dog fighting scene, complete with maimed animals.

Vick denied any involvement in the ring, even telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in person that he had nothing to do with it. But, as the pressure rose and the evidence linking Vick to the ring grew stronger, the Falcons quarterback pled guilty. In August 2007, he acknowledged to funding and participating in the operation. Vick has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Still, it wasn’t until October 2007, after a five-hour interrogation by FBI investigators, that Vick acknowledged to killing dogs personally. “I did it all,” he is reported to have said. “I did everything. If you need me to say more, I’ll say more.”

Legal Battles

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail on December 10 by a US District Judge for conducting a “cruel and inhumane” dog fighting ring and then lying to officials about it. In addition, he was forced to pay roughly $1 million in reparation charges.

But, as one case came to a close, another one opened. Vick was forced to pay the Royal Bank of Canada more than $2.5 million in May 2009 for failing to repay a debt related to a real estate transaction. A week later, a second order was made in favor of Wachovia Bank on a loan default for a bankrupt restaurant, this time for $1.1 million. The US Department of Labor filed a lawsuit the following May, accusing Vick of squandering $1.3 million from a pension plan affiliated with a celebrity-marketing agency he owned.

That same month, 28-year-old Vick was released from federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, and returned home to Virginia, where he was due to serve two months of home confinement for entering a drug treatment program.

Vick was definitely eager to return to the NFL after being released from Leavenworth. Speculation quickly arose regarding potential landing sites for the quarterback, who was formally released by the Falcons in early June. The league had yet to lift his punishment, and football analysts were unsure how things would turn out at the time. What was evident was that Vick, who had declared bankruptcy and was on a three-year probation, not only wanted to play, but needed to play.

Back on the Field

The NFL declared in July 2009 that Vick will be considered for full reinstatement and eligible to participate in regular-season games by October. In return, he agreed to be monitored by former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, with the NFL receiving regular updates from Vick’s probation officer as well as outside doctors and psychiatrists.

Vick’s comeback became official in August when he signed a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent most of his first season as a backup to Donovan McNabb before taking over as starter in 2010. Vick tossed four touchdown passes and ran for two more in a mid-November victory over the Washington Redskins, demonstrating that he had not lost his astounding athletic abilities. After the season, he was named Associated Press and Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year.

Vick unable to recreate his 2011 success, and he was fired after suffering a concussion halfway through 2012. Following one more season with the Eagles, he became a backup for the New York Jets before joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. He officially retired as an Atlanta Falcon in 2017.

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