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Michael Vick

Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980, in Newport News, Virginia) is a suspended National Football League (NFL) quarterback under contract with the Atlanta Falcons team. In 2007, a U.S. federal district court convicted him and several co-defendants of criminal conspiracy resulting from felonious dog fighting and lying and sentenced him to serve a 23-month prison sentence. He is being held in the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Vick is also under indictment for two related Virginia state felony charges for his role in the dogfighting ring and related gambling activity. His state trial has been delayed until he is released from federal prison. He faces a maximum 10-year state prison term if convicted on both counts.

Childhood

Vick is the second of four children (including older sister Christina ("Niki") and younger siblings Marcus and Courtney) born in Newport News, Virginia, to Brenda Vick and Michael Boddie, then unmarried teenagers. His mother worked two jobs, obtained some public financial assistance, and had help from her parents, while his father worked long hours in the shipyards as a sandblaster and spray-painter. They were married when Michael was about five years old but the children elected to continue to use their "Vick" surname.

The family lived in the "Ridley Circle Homes", a public housing project in a financially depressed and crime-ridden neighborhood located in the East End section of the port city, an area known in hip hop culture by the slang names "Bad News" or "Bad Newz" according to the Urban Dictionary. A 2007 newspaper article published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted "not much changed" by observations of local people almost ten years after Michael Vick left. One resident said that there were drug dealing, drive-by shootings and other killings in the neighborhood, and suggested that sports were a way out and a dream for many.

In a 2001 interview, Vick told the Newport News Daily Press that when he was 10 or 11, “I would go fishing even if the fish weren’t biting, just to get out of there" and away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects. Even though the area is, by all accounts, troubled, several people interviewed were disbelieving that dog fighting was a local activity there.

Athletic career

Early amateur athletics

During the early years of his family, Michael Boddie’s employment required a lot of travel, but he taught football skills to his two sons at an early age. Michael Vick was only three years old when his father, nicknamed "Bullet" for his blinding speed during his own playing days on the gridiron, began teaching him the fundamentals. He also taught younger brother Marcus.

As he grew up, Michael Vick, who as a child went by the nickname "Ookie," also learned a lot about football from a second cousin four years older, Aaron Brooks. Vick and Brooks both spent a lot of time as youths at the local Boys and Girls Club. As a 7-year-old throwing three touchdown passes in a Boys Club league, his apparent football talents led coaches and his parents to keep a special watch over Vick.

Vick told Sporting News magazine in an interview published April 9, 2001: "Sports kept me off the streets.... It kept me from getting into what was going on, the bad stuff. Lots of guys I knew have had bad problems."

High school

Vick first came to prominence while at Homer L. Ferguson High School in Newport News. As a freshman, he impressed many with his athletic ability, throwing for over 400 yards in a game that year. After Ferguson High School was closed in 1996 as part of a school building modernization program of Newport News Public Schools, Vick, as a sophomore, and coach Tommy Reamon both moved to Warwick High School, also in Newport News.

At Warwick High School, under Coach Reamon's tutelage, Vick was a three-year starter for the Raiders, passing for 4,846 yards with 43 touchdowns during his career. He once ran for six touchdowns and threw for three touchdowns in a single game. He also added 1,048 yards and 18 scores on the ground and accounted for ten passing and ten rushing touchdowns as a senior as he passed for 1,668 yards.

Coach Reamon, who had helped guide Aaron Brooks from Newport News to the University of Virginia earlier, helped Michael with his SAT tests, and helped him and his family choose between Syracuse University and Virginia Tech. Reamon favored Virginia Tech, where he felt better guidance was available under Coach Frank Beamer, who promised to redshirt him and provide the freshman needed time to develop. Reamon sold Michael on the school's proximity to family and friends, and apparently following his advice, Vick chose to attend Virginia Tech and play football as a Hokie.

As he left the Newport News public housing projects in 1998, "on the wings of a college football scholarship," Michael Vick was seen in the Newport News (and close-by Hampton) community of the lower Virginia Peninsula as a "success story." In a story published in September 2000, while his son Michael was at Virginia Tech, Michael Boddie told the university's Collegiate Times: "Ever since he learned to throw a football, he's always liked throwing a ball...It's just in his blood." He added that his son had never gotten into trouble or ... involved with drugs, adding: "I like the way he has developed, not only as a player but as a person."

College career

After high school, Michael Vick attended Virginia Tech. In his first collegiate game as a redshirt freshman against James Madison in 1999, he scored three rushing touchdowns in just over one quarter of play. His last touchdown was a spectacular flip in which he landed awkwardly on his ankle, forcing him to miss the remainder of the game in addition to the following game. During the season, Vick led a last-minute game-winning drive against in the annual Black Diamond Trophy rivalry game. He led the Hokies to an 11–0 season and to the Bowl Championship Series national title game in the 2000 Nokia Sugar Bowl against Florida State. Although Virginia Tech lost 46–29, Vick was able to bring the team back from a 21 point deficit to take a brief lead. During the season, Vick appeared on the cover of an ESPN The Magazine issue.

Vick led the NCAA in passing efficiency that year, setting a record for a freshman (180.4), which was also good enough for the third-highest all-time mark (Colt Brennan holds the record at 185.9 from his 2006 season at Hawaii). Vick was awarded an ESPY Award as the nation's top college player, and won the first-ever Archie Griffin Award as college football's most valuable player. He was invited to the 1999 Heisman Trophy presentation and finished third in the voting behind Ron Dayne and Joe Hamilton. Vick's third-place finish matched the highest finish ever by a freshman up to that point, first set by Herschel Walker in 1980 (Adrian Peterson has since broken that mark, finishing second in 2004).

Vick's 2000 season did have its share of highlights, such as his career rushing high of 210 yards against the Boston College Eagles in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Against West Virginia in the Black Diamond Trophy game, Vick accounted for 288 total yards of offense and two touchdowns in a 48–20 win. The following week, Vick led the Hokies back from a 14–0 deficit against at the Carrier Dome—where the Hokies had not won since 1986. Vick put the game away with a 55-yard run with 1:34 left.

The following game against , Vick was injured and had to miss the rest of that game, the entire game against , and was unable to start against the —the Hokies' lone loss of the season. Vick's final game at Virginia Tech came against the in the Toyota Gator Bowl, where he was named MVP of the game.

Although he had a four-year paid scholarship, with the opportunity to play professionally and the related huge financial benefits as an option, Vick elected to leave Virginia Tech after his redshirt sophomore season to become a professional football player. Aware that the rest of his family was still living in their 3 bedroom apartment in the Ridley Circle Homes, a public housing project, Michael Vick stated that he was going to buy his mother "a home and a car." ESPN later reported that Michael used some of his NFL and endorsement earnings to buy his mother a brand-new house in upscale Suffolk.

List of college awards

List of college records and accomplishments

  • Set an NCAA record for a freshman and established single-season school records for highest yards passing per completion (20.4), per attempt (12.1), highest completion percentage (59.2) and most yards per play (9.3).
  • Finished third in the balloting for the coveted Heisman Trophy (matching the highest finish ever by a freshman, and eventually broken by Adrian L. Peterson, who finished second in the balloting in 2004) while coming away with the hardware for Big East Conference Offensive and Rookie of the Year and finished runner-up in voting for the Associated Press Player of the Year.
  • Became the first player in Division I history to win a league's Player of the Year Award in the same season he won Rookie of the Year.

Professional career

NFL Draft

Vick was selected in the 2001 NFL Draft as the first overall pick and first African American quarterback taken number 1 in the NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers had the number one selection spot in the draft that year but traded the rights to the first overall choice to the Atlanta Falcons a day before the draft, for which they received the Falcons' first round pick (5th overall) and third round pick in 2001 (used to draft CB Tay Cody), a second round pick in 2002 (used to draft WR Reche Caldwell) and WR/KR Tim Dwight. With the Chargers' downgraded spot (the 5th overall), they selected Texas Christian University running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who went on to become league MVP in 2006 (although Vick has never become league MVP, he finished second in voting in 2004). In this way, Tomlinson and Vick are linked as having been "traded" for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks and contract negotiations.

Vick owns several NFL records, including the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season (1,039 in 2006), highest average per carry in a single season (8.45 in 2006), 100-yard career rushing games by a quarterback (eight), best two-game rushing total (225 in 2004) and rushing yards in a single game (173 in 2002).

His 1,039 rushing yards and 8.4 average yards per carry in 2006 marked NFL records for a quarterback in a single season.

Became the first quarterback in NFL history to tally more than four career 100-yard rushing games as he has now collared eight such contests in his career.

Vick and teammate RB Warrick Dunn (1,140) became the first quarterback/running back duo to each surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, and one of only four teammates to accomplish the feat in NFL history, with the last being Cleveland Browns' running backs Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner in 1985.

Enters the 2007 season ranked third among quarterbacks for rushing yards (3,859) in NFL history.

Vick's 2,474 passing yards in 2006 moved his career totals to 11,505 yards, which ranks fourth all-time in Falcons history.

With seven wins in 2005, Vick surpassed Chris Chandler (34) to move into second place on the Falcons all-time career wins list for quarterbacks. Only Steve Bartkowski (55) has won more games for the team.

Earned his second consecutive and third overall Pro Bowl nod in 2005 as he passed for 2,412 yards and 16 touchdowns in addition to leading all NFL quarterbacks with 597 rushing yards and six scores.

Named to the second Pro Bowl of his career after leading the Falcons to their third division title in team history and breaking numerous NFL and team records in 2004.

Set an NFL postseason record for a quarterback with 119 rushing yards in the 2004 NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Rams.

Became the first quarterback to ever throw for more than 250 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game at the Broncos (10/31/04).

Named the NFC Offensive Player the Week on two separate occasions in 2004.

Early NFL career

Vick made his NFL debut at San Francisco on September 9, 2001 and saw limited action. He completed his first NFL pass with an 18-yard strike to WR Tony Martin in the second quarter vs. Carolina on September 23 and first NFL touchdown on a two-yard rushing score in the fourth quarter to help the Falcons to a 24–16 victory. Vick made his first career start at Dallas on November 11 and threw the first touchdown pass of his career on a nine-yard toss to TE Alge Crumpler in a 20–13 victory. In his two starts of the eight games played that season, Vick completed 50 of 113 passes for 785 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, including accounting for 234 of the team's 255 yards at the team’s season finale at St. Louis on January 6, 2002. He also rushed 29 times for 289 yards (9.9 avg.) and one touchdown.

In 2002, Vick became a bona fide star and MVP candidate in his first season as a full-time starter at the age of 22. He was named to his first Pro Bowl after starting all 15 games played, only missing a game to the New York Giants on October 13 due to a sprained shoulder. He completed 231 of 421 passes for 2,936 yards (both career-highs) and 16 touchdowns, while he also tallied 113 carries for 777 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. In this season, Vick established numerous single-game career-highs, including passes completed with 24 and pass attempts with 46 at Pittsburgh on November 10, as well as passing yards with 337 vs. Detroit on December 22. He also completed a career-long 74 yards for a touchdown to WR Trevor Gaylor vs. New Orleans on November 17. Vick registered an NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single a game with 173 yards at Minnesota on December 1. Vick also tied for third in team history for the lowest interception percentage in a season at 1.90 and continued a streak of consecutive passes without an interception that began at St. Louis on January 6, 2002 in the season-finale of the 2001 season and extended to the first quarter vs. Baltimore on November 3, 2002. His streak covered 25 straight quarters and 177 passes without an interception. On January 1, 2003, Vick led the Atlanta Falcons to an upset victory over the heavily favored Green Bay Packers 27–7 in the NFC playoffs, ending the Packers' undefeated playoff record at Lambeau Field. The Falcons would later lose 20–6 to the Donovan McNabb-led Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional playoff game.

2003–2006 seasons

During a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens on August 16, Vick suffered a fractured right fibula and missed the first 11 games of the regular season. In Week 13, Vick made his season debut in relief of QB Doug Johnson in the third quarter at Houston on November 30, completing 8 of 11 passes for 60 yards and recording 16 rushing yards on three carries. He posted his first start of the season vs. Carolina on December 7 and amassed the third-highest rushing total by a quarterback in NFL history with 141 yards on 14 carries and one score to lead the Falcons to a come-from-behind 20–14 overtime victory. The 141 yards trail Tobin Rote's 150 yards on November 18, 1951 with Green Bay and his own NFL record of 173 at Minnesota December 1, 2002 on the NFL's all-time list for quarterbacks. He also completed 16 of 33 passes for 179 yards and accounted for 320 of the team's 380 total yards worth of offense. On December 20, Vick engineered a 30–28 victory at Tampa Bay completing 8 of 15 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 119.2. Vick closed out the season with a 21–14 victory vs. Jacksonville on December 28, where he completed 12 of 22 passes for 180 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ending the season starting four of five games played, Vick completed 50 of 100 passes for 585 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions and also rushing 40 times for 255 yards and one touchdown while guiding the Falcons to a 3–1 record in the final four weeks of action.

In 2004, Named to his second Pro Bowl after starting 15 games, completing 181 of 321 passes for 2,313 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Also rushed 120 times for 902 yards and three scores. His 902 rushing yards ranked third all-time by NFL QBs. Only Bobby Douglass (Chi, 1972) and Randall Cunningham (Phi, 1990) had more. His 7.5 yards per carry ranked highest among all NFL players.

Only Randall Cunningham and Steve Young have more rushing yards at the quarterback position than Vick. He is also first among QB's all-time in rushing yards per game, at 53.5 yards per game. Vick also holds several NFL quarterback rushing records, including most rushing yards in one game (173), most 100-yard rushing games (7), and most rushing yards in a single season (1,039).

Possible future with the NFL

The prospects of Vick returning to play professional football were the subject of much conjecture after his suspension. The most serious obstacles are clearly the length of imprisonment and possible impact of probationary restrictions afterward. Assuming he gets time off for good behavior, Vick's earliest release date would be between May and October 2009, according to one of his attorneys. That would make his return to play possible as soon as the 2009 season if all other factors were favorable. Missing two full seasons and the physical regimen is a serious disruption in a career, but it is not impossible that he could successfully return to play at that point.

However, the May–October 2009 estimate is based upon assuming that Virginia does not impose any additional prison time even if he is convicted of one or both of the still-pending felony counts when he is tried in Surry Circuit Court after release from federal custody. Convictions on both charges could result in an additional ten years in state prison. Any additional prison time added by Virginia, which would lengthen his time away from the NFL, would reduce even further the likelihood of a successful return, even in a different position than as quarterback. In the most extreme case of a maximum sentence (terms served consecutively), Vick would be as old as 38 when released, since Virginia laws, like federal law, only allow for a maximum of 15% of the sentence to be shaved off for good behavior, as Virginia eliminated parole in 1994.

Even without these factors to consider, it is possible that few general managers would be willing to offer Vick another chance in the NFL, out of fear of a public relations backlash. ESPN's John Clayton said that only a few entrenched general managers would be willing to take such a risk, and even then few owners would sign off on it. Also of note is that Vick would likely not be welcome in the Canadian Football League, as it is nearly impossible for a convicted felon (or one convicted of a crime that would be treated as an indictable offence in Canada) to get a Canadian temporary resident permit. Clayton did speculate that Vick would most likely play in the Arena Football League. In an interview on April 2, 2008 with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated he would like to see Vick play in the NFL again, and didn't rule out welcoming him back to the Falcons.

The new United Football League is also said to be interested in Vick; UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue said Vick's chances of playing in his league in 2009 are "98 percent".

NFL awards and achievements

List of NFL awards

List of NFL records and milestones

  • In 2006, Vick became the only quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards during the regular season.
  • In 2006, Vick set the NFL record for most yards per carry in a season, at 8.4.
  • When Vick and RB Jerious Norwood both ran for over 100 yards in Week 4 of the 2006 season, the Falcons became the only NFL team to ever record two games in a franchise's history where both the quarterback and a running back on the same team surpassed the 100-yard mark in the same game. (Vick and Warrick Dunn both eclipsed 100 yards in Week 2 of the same season.)
  • Vick (1,039 yards) and Dunn (1,140) became the first QB/RB tandem in NFL history to each go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the same season. They also became the fourth set of teammates in league history to each have 1,000 or more yards. The last set of teammates to accomplish the feat were Cleveland RBs Kevin Mack (1,104 yards) and Earnest Byner (1,002) in 1985.
  • Earned his second consecutive and third overall Pro Bowl nod in 2005 as he passed for 2,412 yards and 16 touchdowns in addition to leading all NFL quarterbacks with 597 rushing yards and six scores.
  • Named to the second Pro Bowl of his career after leading the Falcons to their third division title in team history and breaking numerous NFL and team records in 2004.
  • Set an NFL postseason record for a quarterback with 119 rushing yards in the 2004 NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Rams.
  • Became the first quarterback to ever throw for more than 250 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game at the Broncos (October 31, 2004).
  • Named to the 2002 Pro Bowl, becoming the seventh quarterback to be voted to the NFL All-Star game in his first year as a starter since 1970, joining Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins (1983), Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers (1992), Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams (1999), Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings (2000), Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles (2000), and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots (2001). This group would later include Marc Bulger of the St. Louis Rams (2003), Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers (2006), Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys (2006), and Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns(2007).
  • Top overall NFL draft choice in 2001 after a celebrated college career at Virginia Tech. Was the fourth Falcons #1 overall pick in club history (Tommy Nobis in 1966, Steve Bartkowski in 1975, Aundray Bruce in 1988)

Suspension by the NFL

Hours after Vick pled guilty in the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting investigation, the NFL suspended Vick indefinitely without pay. In a letter to Vick, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Vick had admitted to conduct that was "not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible." While Vick is technically a first-time offender under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy, Goodell handed down a harsher suspension because Vick admitted that he provided most of the money for the gambling side of the operation. The NFL does not allow its players to be involved in any form of gambling, and even first-time offenders risk being banned for life. However, Goodell did leave open the possibility of reinstating Vick depending on how well he cooperates with federal and state authorities.

Earlier, Goodell had barred Vick from reporting to training camp while the league conducted its own investigation into the matter. Any chance of Vick playing a down in the NFL in 2007 were all but wiped out at his July 26 arraignment, as the terms of his bail barred him from leaving Virginia for any reason before the trial.

On August 27, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a press conference that the Falcons would seek to recover a portion of Vick's signing bonus. He also said the team had no immediate plans to cut ties with Vick, citing salary-cap issues. It initially appeared that Goodell had cleared the way for the Falcons to release Vick, since he ruled that Vick's involvement in gambling activity breached his contract. On August 29, the Falcons sent a letter to Vick demanding that he reimburse them for $20 million of the $37 million bonus. The case was sent to arbitration, and on October 10, an arbitrator ruled that Vick had to reimburse the Falcons for $19.97 million. The arbitrator agreed with the Falcons' contentions that Vick knew he was engaging in illegal activity when he signed his new contract in 2004, and that he'd even used the bonus money to pay for the operation.

Personal

Controversies and incidents

Between his selection by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft and early 2007, Vick was allegedly involved several incidents or events:

  • In 2007, conflicting statements were made by his estranged parents about possible dogfighting activities in 2001. Michael Boddie, his father, who now lives in Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that around 2001, Michael Vick was staging dogfights in the garage of the family's home in Newport News and kept fighting dogs in the family's backyard, including injured ones which the father nursed back to health. Boddie said his son had been urged to not engage in the activity, but continued. He stated "This is Mike's thing. And he knows it." Within days, Michael Vick's mother, Brenda Vick Boddie, who now lives in Suffolk, Virginia, responded. She told the Newport News Daily Press "There was no dogfighting [at our home]. There were no cages.
  • In early 2004, two men were arrested in Virginia for distributing marijuana. The truck they were driving was registered to Michael Vick. The Falcons coach Dan Reeves recalled that he lectured Vick at that time on the importance of reputation, on choosing the right friends, on staying out of trouble for the good of his team. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Reeves as having told Vick: "You are an Atlanta Falcon...Whatever you do is going to be a reflection on all of us, not just you."
  • On October 10, 2004, Vick and the other members of his party including employee Quanis Phillips were at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport on their way to board an AirTran afternoon flight to Newport News, Virginia. While they were passing through a security checkpoint with Vick, a security camera caught Phillips and Todd Harris picking up an expensive-appearing watch (either a Rolex or a fake) which belonged to Alvin Spencer, a security screener. After watching the theft on a video tape, Spencer filed a police report. However, he claimed that Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, known as the Falcons "fixer", interfered with the investigation. Although Vick representatives declined to make him available for an Atlanta police inquiry, six days later Spencer did get the watch back from them, according to the Washington Post.
  • In March 2005 a woman named Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from Vick, in the autumn of 2002, and that he failed to inform her that he had the disease. Elliot further alleged that Vick had visited clinics under the alias "Ron Mexico" to get treatments and thus he knew of his condition. On April 24, 2006 Vick's attorney, Lawrence Woodward, revealed that the lawsuit had settled out of court with an undisclosed amount. Many fans bought custom jerseys from NFL.com with Vick's number 7 and the name "MEXICO" on the back, as a reference to his lawsuit. The NFL has since banned customizing jerseys with the name Mexico.
  • November 20, 2006 – Vick and the City of Kankakee, Illinois enter into an agreement that permits Vick to pay sales taxes to Kankakee and not in Georgia or Virginia.
  • November 26, 2006 – After a Falcons loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome in apparent reaction to fans booing, Vick made an obscene gesture at fans, holding up two middle fingers. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL for his obscene gesture, and agreed to donate another $10,000 to charity.
  • January 17, 2007 – Vick surrendered a water bottle which had a hidden compartment to security personnel at Miami International Airport. "The compartment was hidden by the bottle's label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright," police said. Test results indicated there were no illegal substances in the water bottle and Vick was cleared of any wrongdoing. Vick announced that the water bottle was a jewelry stash box, and that the substance in question had been jewelry.
  • November 3, 2001 – Fans in the family section of the stands cheered when Atlanta Falcon's quarterback Chris Chandler was injured because it meant that Vick would be given a chance to play. Chris Chandler's wife Diane confronted the fans, which led to a commotion which led to an object being thrown. Coach Dan Reeves said that he would speak with the players about how their families were expected to act following the game. Vick himself decried the incident: "That's so crazy, man," Vick said. "I don't see how anybody could be cheering while somebody's out there getting hit. As hard as we go out there and try to please these fans, as hard as we go out and play, I don't see why anybody would even make those statements.

Dog fighting investigations

Beginning on April 25, 2007, widespread media publicity was drawn by discovery of evidence of unlawful dog fighting activities at a property owned by Vick in a rural county in southeastern Virginia. Vick was indicted on and eventually pled guilty to federal dog fighting charges, and was accused of financing the operation, directly participating in dog fights and executions, and personally handling thousands of dollars in related gambling activities.

Federal criminal prosecution

In July 2007, Vick and three other men were charged by federal authorities with felony charges of operating an unlawful six-year long interstate dog fighting venture known as "Bad Newz Kennels" at Vick's 15-acre property in Surry County, Virginia. Vick was accused of financing the operation, directly participating in dog fights and executions, and personally handling thousands of dollars in related gambling activities. By August 20, Vick and each of the other three co-defendants had agreed to separate plea bargains for the federal charges. They are expected to each receive federal prison sentences between 12 months and a maximum of five years.

On August 24, Vick filed his plea documents with the federal court. He pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to operate an interstate dogfighting ring. In addition, he admitted to providing most of the financing for the operation itself, as well as participating directly in several dogfights in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. He also admitted to sharing in the proceeds from these dog fights. He also admitted that he knew his colleagues killed several dogs who didn't perform well enough. However, while he admitted to providing most of the money for gambling on the fights, he denied placing any side bets on the dogfights. He also denied actually killing any dogs himself. ESPN obtained copies of the documents under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and made them available at:

On August 27, 2007, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted Vick's guilty plea. In the scheduled December 10, 2007 sentencing, Vick faced a maximum of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and 3 years of supervised release. Prosecutors asked Hudson to sentence Vick to 12–18 months (the minimum amount possible under federal sentencing guidelines) if Vick cooperated with the government as he had agreed to do in the terms of the original plea agreement. The terms of the plea agreement includes a clause in which Vick forfeits his right to appeal any sentence imposed upon him. Though prosecutors asked for a lower-end sentence for Vick, Hudson could still increase the sentence up to the maximum limits; Hudson had in fact informed two co-defendants--Peace and Phillips--that the brutality in killing the dogs warranted exceeding the guidelines in their cases..

A significant portion of the plea agreement involved Vick cooperating with Federal authorities pursuing other dogfighting cases as well as a complete allocution on his role in the Bad Newz Kennels, including detailing his role in the killing of dogs after the fights. The allocution proved to be a sticking point, as both Federal prosecutors and FBI agents reported that Vick was giving contradictory statements about how dogs were killed, what his role in the killings were, how many dogs were killed, and other details.. According to reporters who spoke to Judge Hudson after the sentencing hearing, Vick's pre-sentencing behavior, especially during an FBI polygraph administered in October 2007 which showed that Vick was being deceptive when asked direct questions about killing dogs, was a factor in selecting the length of the sentence.

Failed drug test, beginning jail time early
While free on bail, Vick tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test which is a violation of the conditions of his release while awaiting sentencing in federal court his felony conviction. Vick's positive urine sample was submitted September 13, 2007, according to a document by a federal probation officer that was filed in U.S. District Court on September 26.

As a result, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered Vick confined to his Hampton, Virginia home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. with electronic monitoring until his court hearing date in December. He also was ordered to submit to random drug testing.

Co-defendant Quanis Phillips was incarcerated earlier after his August 17 plea hearing after having failed drug tests with monitoring equipment and regulations already in place.

In November, Vick turned himself in early to begin getting time-served credit against his likely federal prison sentence, and was being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions on December 10, 2007.

Federal sentencing
On December 10, 2007, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison. Judge Hudson said he was "convinced that it was not a momentary lack of judgment" on Vick's part, and that Vick was a "full partner" in the dogfighting ring. Hudson also noted that, despite Vick's claims that he accepted responsibility for his actions, his failure to cooperate fully with Federal officials coupled with a failed drug test and a failed polygraph showed that Vick had not accepted full responsibility for "promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity".

Observers have speculated that Michael Vick could be released from prison in late 2009 or early 2010. After release, a return to professional football would depend upon terms of probation, possible reinstatement by the NFL, his physical condition and finding a potential team. It is possible that any teams considering him at that time would want to look at Vick at other positions. "I am not sure they would bring him back as a quarterback", stated one senior NFL analyst. [8] ESPN's John Clayton said it is unlikely that he would be able to play in the Canadian Football League, as it is nearly impossible for a convicted felon to get a Canadian visa. [9] However, as his last codefendant in federal court was due to be sentenced on December 14, many observers agreed that Vick's pending trial in Virginia in April 2008 [subsequently postponed until after Vick's release from Federal prison] remained as the largest unknown factor for his future.

State criminal prosecution

Long anticipated separate Virginia charges against all four men were placed following indictments by the Surry County grand jury when it met on September 25, 2007. The principal evidence considered was the sworn statements of the defendants during their plea agreement process before the federal court, although the indictments are for different charges. Vick is charged with two class 6 felonies in Virginia, which carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for conviction on each charge.

After several delays, Vick's trial in Surry County Circuit Court was postponed in June, 2008 until after his eventual release from federal custody. Virginia's local prosecutor, Gerald Poindexter, cited the high costs and transportation logistics of proceeding while he was still in federal prisons in Kansas and Florida. With good behavior Vick could be out July 20, 2009, Poindexter said.

Finances

Vick was described in an article in the Norfolk Virginian Pilot newspaper in late 2006 as "reportedly one of the top 10 richest athletes in the United States."

Endorsements

During his NFL career, Vick became a spokesperson for many companies; his endorsement contracts have included Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola, Powerade, Kraft, Rawlings, Hasbro and AirTran. His contract along with his endorsements had Vick ranked 33 among Forbes' Top 100 Celebrities in 2005. However, two years later, he was not even listed on the most recent Forbes Top 100 Celebrities. Even before the animal cruelty case surfaced in 2007, Vick's corporate status had deteriorated, apparently due to extensive bad press. Among the negative incidents cited by observers of this was his middle finger gesture to Atlanta football fans in 2006. His endorsement deals with at least six companies (Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Kraft Foods, Hasbro and AirTran) have expired over the past few years and have not been renewed.

Liabilities

Vick has been named in numerous lawsuits by banks and creditors for defaulting on loans, some relating to business investments. In November 2007, Vick was observed to be liquidating some of his real estate assets, notably the dog-fighting estate property near Smithfield, Virginia and one of his multi-million dollar homes, several of which are located in Suffolk, Virginia, near Atlanta, Georgia, and the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Florida. ESPN reported on October 20 that the one near Atlanta was listed for sale at a $4.5 million asking price. In June 2008, when brother Marcus Vick was arrested in Norfolk on charges of attempting to elude police, driving while intoxicated, and driving on a suspended driver's license, he listed his residence as a home owned by Michael in an exclusive riverfront community in Suffolk.
Joel Enterprises
Joel Enterprises of Richmond was listed by Vick as one of his larger creditors. Sports agents Andrew Joel and Dave Lowman claimed Vick signed a contract with their firm as he announced he was leaving Virginia Tech early and declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft. Subsequently, Vick ended the relationship suddenly a few weeks later. In 2005, Joel sued Vick for $45 million. Subsequently, Vick and Joel had submitted the dispute to mediation. The case was heard in Richmond by Charlottesville attorney Thomas Albro. The outcome was an award of $4.5 million to Joel for "breach of contract."
Royal Bank of Canada
On September 20, Royal Bank of Canada, DBA RBC Centura, filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Newport News against Vick for more than $2.3 million, arguing that his guilty plea to federal dogfighting charges and the resulting impact on his career have prevented him from repaying a loan which was to be for real estate purposes. The suit claims Vick is in default of $2,313,649.37 for various reasons, including that he failed to provide accurate financial statements. The bank claims he failed to meet a September 10 deadline to repay the loan. The suit is seeking the remaining $2.3 million Vick owes, plus $499 daily interest beginning September 16 and additional money to cover legal fees.

On May 7, 2008, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted a motion for summary judgment against Vick for default and breach of a promissory note and ordered him to pay more than US$2.5 million to the Royal Bank of Canada.

1st Source Bank
On September 26, 2007, 1st Source Bank, based in South Bend, Indiana, claimed in a federal lawsuit that it had suffered damages of at least $2 million as Vick and Divine Seven LLC of Atlanta had refused to pay for at least 130 vehicles, including many Kia Spectras, Ford Tauruses, Chrysler Pacificas, and a Dodge Charger. The cars were acquired by Divine Seven to be used as rental cars. The "Specialty Financing Group" of 1st Source provides financing for rental car fleets in many locations around the country, according to the bank's web site.

Vick signed the loan agreement documents as Chief Financial Officer of Divine Seven. Art M. Washington was listed as Chief Executive Officer. The website for Georgia's Secretary of State lists "Divine Seven LLC" as a registered corporation which was created on December 15, 2006 by Washington and Vick. Washington is the designated registered agent. The company's listed address, 2527 Camp Creek Parkway, in College Park, Georgia is also listed as a Payless Car Rental franchise location. College Park is a predominantly African American city in a south Atlanta suburban area adjacent to the busy Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

According to a spokesman for the bank who was quoted in a news media report of September 28, 1st Source had been able to repossess most of the cars, which will limit Vick's financial liability in the lawsuit. A written demand for payment was made August 24, but was not honored, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in South Bend.

Vick's bankruptcy filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newport News, Virginia on July 7, 2008 listed $400,000 as the amount of his potential liability to 1st Source Bank. Unlike some of the items listed for other debtors, the filing does not indicate that the amount due 1st Source Bank is either secured by any assets or in dispute.

Wachovia Bank
On October 2, 2007, Wachovia Bank filed suit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta seeking about $940,000 from Vick and Gerald Frank Jenkins, a business partner and their Atlantic Wine & Package LLC. The bank claimed the two defaulted on a May 2006 loan of $1.3 million to set up a wine shop and restaurant and have not made scheduled payments.

In March, 2007, an Atlantic Wine & Package store and adjacent Tasting Room restaurant at 3560 Camp Creek Parkway opened in the suburban Atlanta town of East Point. (A primarily African American community, East Point is home to R&B and hip hop groups such as TLC, OutKast, Coolbreeze, Organized Noize, and Goodie Mob, as well as an alternative rock group, Seven Envy).

A Tasting Room website notes that Jenkins, a retired surgeon, has owned a store named Atlantic Wine in the nearby Buckhead section of Atlanta since 2004. A news media report indicated that he had brought Vick in as an investor. A newspaper article about his appearance at the opening in March described Vick as "the main shareholder of the three investors. An Atlanta attorney was named by news media sources as a third investor in the restaurant and wine store venture, but was not named in the Wachovia suit.

On May 14, 2008, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that summary judgment in favor of Wachovia against Vick had been granted by the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The amount of $1,117,908.85 represented the initial principal balance outstanding ($937,907.61), interest accrued, outstanding fees, overdrawn accounts and attorneys fees. The order provided that further interest could be accrued.

Funds to care for dogs
At the request of federal authorities before his sentencing in federal court, Vick agreed to deposit nearly $1 million dollars in an escrow account with attorneys for use to reimburse costs of caring for the confiscated dogs, most of which are now being offered for adoption on a selective basis under supervision of a court-appointed specialist. Experts say some of the animals will require individual care for the rest of their lives.

Bankruptcy filing

On July 7, 2008, Vick sought bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newport News after failing to "work out consensual resolutions with each of his creditors," according to court papers. The initial filing, which was incomplete, listed assets of less than $50 million and debt of $10 million to $50 million in Chapter 11 documents. The seven largest creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed a total of $12.8 million. The three biggest unsecured creditors are: Joel Enterprises Inc., owed $4.5 million for breach of contract; Atlanta Falcons, owed $3.75 million for "pro-rated signing bonus" and Royal Bank of Canada, owed $2.5 million for a loan.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback "will seek to rebuild his life and career" upon his release, according to the filings. In Newport News, the Daily Press made a PDF formatted copy of the court documents available online at the newspaper's website: Online copy of Michael Vick's Bankruptcy Filing July 7, 2008

On August 15, 2008, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Vick's finances are in such disarray that a bankruptcy judge has been asked to appoint a trustee to oversee them. W. Clarkson McDow Jr., the U.S. trustee for Region Four (which includes Newport News, Va.), noted in court documents filed in Virginia that by Vick's own admission, he "has limited ability to arrange his finances and limited ability to participate in the bankruptcy case on an in-person basis." McDow wrote in his motion to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee "It appears that Mr. Vick has routinely relied upon others to make financial decisions for him, giving them discretionary control over large sums of money". McDow named Mary Wong and David A. Talbot as individuals who had obtained broad written authority to act as his attorney-in-fact over all of his financial affairs.

On August 15, an ESPN news story described Wong and Talbot as "two financial advisers who have been charged with major frauds." On recommendation from fellow Falcons teammate Demorrio Williams, in the fall of 2007, Vick retained Mary Wong, a business manager in Omaha, Nebraska. Wong helped cash in some of Vick's investments to provide the restitution funds required by the federal court in his criminal case to care for the dogs. However, ESPN reported that, according to a document filed by one of Vick's attorneys, she used a power of attorney from Vick to "wrongfully remove" at least another $900,000 from his various accounts. Court papers also say, Wong "caused certain business entities owned by [Vick] to be transferred to her." Vick learned later that Wong had been permanently barred from working with any firm that traded on the New York Stock Exchange as the result of taking more than $150,000 from two elderly widows she met while working at Wells Fargo Investments.

Vick next turned to David A. Talbot, a medical school graduate from Hackensack, New Jersey, who claimed to have expertise in financial management. Vick later told the court that he met Talbot in April 2008 through his brother, Marcus Vick, who he said is a good friend of Talbot's son. ESPN reported that Talbot was to be paid $15,000 per month, and had taken possession of one of Vick's cars, an $85,000 Mercedes Benz. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that his professional résumé contained numerous false and apparently, fraudulent statements. In a matter unrelated to Vick, Talbot is accused of defrauding church members in New Jersey. New Jersey's Attorney General instituted legal action against Talbot for securities fraud in a scheme to "defraud" several investors of more than $500,000 by offering them "asset enhancement contracts" that were to be used to build a new church. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro ordered that a Mercedes-Benz that Vick had given to Talbot be repossessed and sold, and that Talbot show up at a hearing on Sept. 5. "Obviously the court is concerned," Santoro said.

On August 29, a 2 hour-long hearing was held in the Newport News Bankruptcy Court. Vick participated by speaker phone from Leavenworth, Kansas. He told the court his representatives are talking to the NFL on his behalf about a return to football, but that he does not know what his earning potential is. The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot quoted him as stating: "My plan is to go back into playing football."

On September 5, Talbot did appear before Judge Santoro, but declined to answer the judge's questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Santoro told him: "You are ordered to account for every dime – or every penny, let’s put it that way – that you have received from Mr. Vick." Talbot's attorney told the court that Talbot gave the Mercedes back to Vick's brother, Marcus Vick, who drove it from Florida to Virginia.

Attorney Paul K. Campsen explained to the court that Vick "has supported his mother, brother, fiancee and his two children" over the years. Vick's financial problems include average monthly expenses of $12,225 for several large homes his family currently live in and a monthly income of just $277.69. Money that Vick gave his fiancee, mother, two children and other family members in recent years might have to be returned to pay creditors to whom Vick now owes money, according to Vick's attorneys. If they bought property with money that Vick gave them, they could be ordered to sell that property and turn over the proceeds to the court.

Vick's mother was formerly a school bus driver in Newport News. Brother Marcus is an undrafted free agent since the Miami Dolphins did not renew his single year contract signed in 2006, and at the time of the hearing, was free on bail pending his appearance in court in Norfolk General District Court on September 10 to face multiple charges which resulted from an incident in June 2008. Charges include DUI, misdemeanor eluding police, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license. A trial date of September 10 was set in Norfolk General District Court.

Charity work

The Vick Foundation

In June 2006, Vick, along with his brother Marcus Vick and mother Brenda Vick Boddie, established "The Vick Foundation", a nonprofit organization to support at-risk youth and the after school programs that serve them in the Metro Atlanta and Hampton Roads areas. Their organization was not related to the similarly-named Vick Foundation which was set up in 2004 by Edward Vick (founder of EVS Translations).

The announcement of the new organization came just before the start of the foundation's first fundraiser, the Michael Vick Golf Classic. The inaugural event was held at the prestigious Kingsmill Golf Course in James City County near Williamsburg, Virginia in partnership with The Virginia Tech Alumni Association Tidewater Chapter, and netted more than $80,000 for charity.

After the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, Michael Vick teamed up with the United Way to donate $10,000 to assist families affected by the tragedy. Vick explained, "When tragic things like this happen, families have enough to deal with, and if I can help in some small way, that's the least I can do." It was reported that The Vick Foundation was collecting donations from local communities in both Atlanta and Virginia that will be placed in the United In Caring Fund for Victims of the Virginia Tech Tragedy and the special fund at the United Way of Montgomery, Radford and Floyd counties, which serves the Virginia Tech area. The Vick Foundation said the money would be used to provide help with funeral expenses, transportation for family members and other support services.

Afterschool Alliance

On Tuesday, April 24, 2007, Michael Vick was scheduled to lobby on Capitol Hill, hoping to persuade lawmakers to increase funding for after-school programs. However, Vick missed a connecting flight in Atlanta on Monday to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. He later failed to show-up for another seat booked for him later that evening. On Tuesday morning, he did not attend his scheduled appearance at the congressional breakfast where he also was to be honored for his foundation's work with after-school projects in Georgia and Virginia. Vick's mother, Brenda Vick Boddie, accepted an award from the Afterschool Alliance on her son's behalf.

Events cancelled

On April 26, 2007, the police search of Vick's property in Surry County took place, and soon, there was widespread news media publicity about evidence of dog fighting which had been found there. Subsequently, plans made earlier for charity-related events were cancelled.

It was announced in June 2007 that the "Michael Vick Football Camp" to be held at Christopher Newport University in Newport News was canceled for the summer 2007 session because of "scheduling issues. The university on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News is partially located on the site of the former Homer L. Ferguson High School (which closed in 1996), the school where Vick began his football fame. He also canceled participation in another football camp to be held at the College of William and Mary. According to that university, his place was to be taken by Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.

On June 22, 2007, a charity golf tournament featuring Vick, intended in part to raise scholarships in memory of Virginia Tech's shooting victims, was rescheduled for September. The tournament at Kingsmill Resort & Spa had been set to begin on June 29, and a reason for the change was not announced. At the time, the tournament was the latest in a series of Virginia appearances either canceled or delayed since Vick's name surfaced in the dog fighting investigation.

Impact upon community youth and leaders

The revelations of Michael Vick's activities with the Bad Newz Kennels drew widespread negative public reactions, but possibly hurt nowhere more than in his old neighborhood. Until August 24, there could be some comfort in disbelief. In the aftermath of Vick's guilty plea agreement to the federal charges, in Newport News, mentors and others working with underprivileged youth sought to identify lessons to communicate to those who had seen him as a role model.

"It's difficult, because Mike (Vick) is someone who we held up as doing it right," Bernard Johnson told the Newport News Daily Press. Johnson, who has coached kids, including Vick, in the Boys and Girls Club football program for 28 years, said the lesson to kids now is all about responsibility and accountability.

After Vick apologized to the judge, his family and his children at his federal sentencing hearing on December 10, Judge Hudson stated:

"I think you should have apologized also to the millions of young people who look up to you.

See also

References

External links

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