Vick Seeks Redemption with Eagles  

Posted by — Kim in , , , , , ,

Quarterback Admits 'Mistakes' with Dogfighting Ring

By Tim Lemke
August 15, 2009

Less than a month after being released from federal custody, Michael Vick sat alongside Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid on Friday and thanked him for a second chance.

The former Pro Bowl quarterback, who spent six years with the Atlanta Falcons and nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty to financing an illegal dogfighting ring, issued his first public apology since the end of his incarceration. And he expressed gratitude to the Eagles for signing him to a contract that could pay him more than $7 million over the next two years.

"I know I made some mistakes and have done some terrible things," Vick said. "Now I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I'm just glad I have an opportunity."

For Vick, the signing could mean the resumption of a once-illustrious career during which he emerged as one of the most athletic and versatile players in the National Football League.

Vick also at one point was the league's highest-paid player, but he reportedly will be paid $1.5 million this year – barely more than the league veteran minimum. The team holds a $5 million option for 2010. The deal could be worth nearly $10 million if he meets a series of incentives.

"I think we know Michael Vick two years ago was one of the greatest quarterbacks in the National Football League," Reid said. "I've always said to the people of Philadelphia that I would try to bring in the best players that can help our players achieve that highest goal, and that's the Super Bowl."

Reid said he understood that some fans would be upset with the team's decision to sign Vick, who as part of his plea agreement admitted to watching dogfights and participating in executions of the animals. Even Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, a passionate dog owner, called the decision "soul-searching."

"I know some people will not agree," Reid said. "But on the other hand, I think the majority will, and fortunately in this country if we handle ourselves the proper way we're given the opportunity for second chances. People understand that."

Though Vick will earn a fraction of his former salary, every dollar of income will help: He currently is bankrupt. He is scheduled to present a plan to a judge later this month for the payment of creditors. At least three efforts to approve the plan were rejected because Vick had no major source of income.

Sentiment in Philadelphia, of course, might be driven by how well Vick plays. Sports fans in the city are notoriously supportive of players who succeed – and notoriously hard on those who flop.

It still is unclear how Vick would be used on the field by the Eagles – the team says incumbent Donovan McNabb remains the starting quarterback. In fact, Reid said, McNabb openly lobbied the team to sign Vick.

"Michael will contribute," Reid said. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you how he's going to contribute, because I'm not [so] naive to think the rest of the National Football League is not watching this, and I have to play those guys. But I will say that he will contribute, and then you can ask defensive coordinators on other teams if they're worried about that."

Vick's skills as a pure passer often were questioned during his time with the Falcons, but he was praised for his ability to run with the football.

Reporters on Friday asked Vick whether he would be willing to appear in special formations that allow for two quarterbacks and give a player the option to run or pass. Several teams last season, including the Eagles, used such formations, which are often referred to as the "Wildcat."

"Whatever coach Reid signs off, that's what I'll do," Vick said. "I'm just ready to contribute and help with a Super Bowl."

Opposing coaches said they expect the addition of Vick will make it more challenging to prepare for games against the Eagles. The Washington Redskins could face Vick twice, at FedEx Field on Oct. 26 and in Philadelphia on Nov. 29.

"He's going to be very difficult [to defend]," Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. "It will be interesting how he works into the Eagles. Unfortunately, he's in our division. He's been out for a couple of years, but a guy like that, he's going to be so fired up."

The Eagles could be without Vick's services for the first five weeks of the season under the terms of a conditional reinstatement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Vick can participate in the Eagles' final two preseason games and work out with the team, but he would not be eligible to play until Oct. 18, when the Eagles face the Oakland Raiders on the road.

Vick's reinstatement requires him to remain out of trouble and work with animal welfare groups to speak out against animal cruelty. Mr. Goodell also asked former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy to advise Vick formally during his transition back into society and the NFL. Dungy had been counseling Vick informally during his time in prison.

"I'm proud of the Eagles," said Dungy, who sat next to Vick at Friday's announcement. "I know they didn't do this as a charity measure. They feel like Mike's going to help their football team and be a weapon for them. But they also stepped out to give a man a second chance."

Vick has not played football since Dec. 31, 2006, when the Falcons lost to the Eagles in the final game of the regular season. In April 2007, federal prosecutors accused Vick of financing a large dogfighting ring and using his property in Surry County, Va., to hold illegal fights between dogs. According to prosecutors, many of the dogs involved in the ring were beaten or killed by Vick and his associates. Vick accepted a plea agreement in August of that year.

Shortly after being released from federal custody last month, Vick met with Mr. Goodell, who had suspended him indefinitely in 2007.

Vick on Friday apologized several times, acknowledging an error for once rationalizing dogfighting as a common and acceptable part of the culture of the South.

"For the life of me today, I can't understand why I was involved in such pointless activity," he said.

Convincing animal-welfare supporters of his rehabilitation may not be so easy.

Copyright 2009 The Washington Times, LLC

Also, see:

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at Saturday, August 15, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Post a Comment

List of No-kill Shelters and Rescues

List of No-kill Shelters and Rescues: 
Find local shelters near you! LOCAL SEARCH
You can adopt or foster from any of these shelters or donate to support their efforts. Be sure to confirm that they are a "no-kill" shelter. Then, be a part of the solution!

<< – Newer Posts / Older Posts – >>