Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980) is an American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He played for the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons before serving time in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring.
Vick played college football at Virginia Tech, where as a freshman he placed third in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He left after his sophomore year to enter the NFL and was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft. He became the first African-American quarterback to be selected first overall in an NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Falcons, he gained wide popularity for his performance on the field, and led the Falcons to the playoffs twice. Vick ranks first among quarterbacks in career rushing yards.
In April 2007, Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring that had operated over five years. In August 2007, he pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement. With the loss of his NFL salary and product endorsement deals, combined with previous financial mismanagement, Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2008. Falcons owner Arthur Blank did not want Vick on the Falcons, and after attempts to trade him failed, Vick was released. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and was reinstated in week 3 of the 2009 season.
In 2010, Vick became the Eagles’ starting quarterback and led them to the 2011 NFL Playoffs as NFC East Champions. Despite starting only 12 games, Vick set career highs in passing yards, passing percentage, and QB rating. He was named the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl.
Early yearsVick was born in Newport News, Virginia as the second of four children 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. 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 was drug dealing, drive-by shootings and other killings in the neighborhood, then 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 away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects.”
Early athletic careerDuring 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. Vick was only three years old when his father, nicknamed “Bullet” for his blinding speed during his own playing days, began teaching him the fundamentals. He taught younger brother Marcus Vick.
As he grew up, Vick, who as a child went by the nickname “Ookie”, learned 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 10-year-old throwing three touchdown passes in a Boys Club league, his apparent football talents led coaches and his parents to keep special watch.
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 schoolVick 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. Ferguson High School was closed in 1996 as part of a Newport News Public Schools building modernization program. Vick, as a sophomore, and Tommy Reamon both moved to Warwick High School.
At Warwick High School, under Reamon’s tutelage, Vick was a three-year starter for the Raiders, passing for 4,846 yards with 43 touchdowns. He ran for six touchdowns and threw for three touchdowns in a single game. He added 1,048 yards and 18 scores on the ground. As a senior, he passed for 1,668 yards, accounting for ten passing and ten rushing touchdowns.
Reamon, who had helped guide Brooks from Newport News to the University of Virginia, helped Michael with his SATs 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 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 Vick chose to attend Virginia Tech.
As he left the Newport News public housing projects in 1998, “on the wings of a college football scholarship,” Vick was seen in the Newport News community as a “success story.” In a story published in September 2000, while Vick 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.”
College careerIn his first collegiate game as a redshirt freshman against James Madison in 1999, Vick 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 West Virginia in the annual Black Diamond Trophy game. He led the Hokies to an 11–0 season and to the Bowl Championship Series national title game in the 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 on the Cover of Sports Illustrated
Vick led the NCAA in passing efficiency that year, setting a record for a freshman (180.4), which was good enough for the third-highest all-time mark. 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.
Lane Stadium, where Vick played his college gamesVick’s 2000 season had highlights, such as his career rushing high of 210 yards against the Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Against West Virginia University 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 from a 14–0 deficit against Syracuse 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 Pittsburgh, Vick was injured and had to miss the rest of the game as well as the entire game against Central Florida, and was unable to start against the Miami Hurricanes, the Hokies’ lone loss of the season. Vick’s final game at Virginia Tech came against the Clemson Tigers in the Toyota Gator Bowl, where he was named MVP of the game.
Vick left Virginia Tech after his redshirt sophomore season. Aware that the rest of his family was still living in their 3 bedroom apartment in the Ridley Circle Homes, Vick stated that he was going to buy his mother “a home and a car.” ESPN later reported that Vick used some of his NFL and endorsement earnings to buy his mother a brand-new house in an upscale section of Suffolk, Virginia.
Professional careerAtlanta FalconsVick was selected first in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The San Diego Chargers had the number one selection 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. Vick was drafted in the 30th round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, despite not playing baseball at Virginia Tech.
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.
Vick as a Falcon in November 2006.Vick made his NFL debut at San Francisco on September 9, 2001 and saw limited action. He completed his first NFL pass 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 start at Dallas on November 11 and threw his first touchdown pass 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, accounting for 234 of the team’s 255 yards at the team’s season finale at St. Louis on January 6, 2002. He rushed 29 times for 289 yards (9.9 avg.) and one touchdown. In 2002, Vick was named to the Pro Bowl after starting 15 games, missing a game to the New York Giants on October 13 with a sprained shoulder. He completed 231 of 421 passes for 2,936 yards (both career-highs) and 16 touchdowns with 113 carries for 777 yards and eight touchdowns. 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 completed 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 at Minnesota on December 1. Vick 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 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.
Vick at the 2006 Pro BowlDuring a preseason 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 21–14 victory. He completed 16 of 33 passes for 179 yards and accounted for 320 of the team’s 380 offensive yards. 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.
In 2004, Vick was 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. He rushed 120 times for 902 yards and three scores. His 902 rushing yards ranked third all-time by NFL QBs. His 7.5 yards per carry rank first among all NFL players.
SuspensionIn August 2007, hours after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, the NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay for violating the NFL player conduct policy. 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 was 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. Goodell left open the possibility of reinstating Vick depending on how he cooperated with federal and state authorities.
Goodell had barred Vick from reporting to training camp while the league conducted its own investigation into the matter. At his July 26 arraignment, the terms of his bail barred him from leaving Virginia 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 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 had used the bonus money to pay for the operation.
In February 2009, the Falcons revealed that they were exploring trade scenarios to another NFL club for Vick. Team general manager Thomas Dimitroff pointed out that NFL rules allow teams to trade the contractual rights of suspended players. The Falcons released Vick in early June, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Vick warming up with the Eagles in September 2009.
Vick in a game against the Washington Redskins on October 16, 2011. External images
Vick celebrating after a TD
Vick pointing at the Atlanta Dome
After his release from prison, Vick was mentored by former Colts coach Tony Dungy.
The prospects of Vick returning to play professional football were the subject of much conjecture. In 2007, ESPN’s John Clayton said that few general managers were in a strong enough position to consider taking a chance on Vick, and even then most NFL owners would be concerned about a fan and media backlash. He also noted that there was no chance of him resurrecting his career in the Canadian Football League. In 2007, following a furor over Ricky Williams being allowed to play there, it banned players currently suspended by the NFL. Even without that to consider, it is nearly impossible for a convicted felon to get a Canadian work visa. He did think, however, that Vick would be “unstoppable” if he ever decided to play in the Arena Football League.
On August 13, 2009, Vick signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He earned $1.6 million, of which no amount was guaranteed. The contract contained a team option for the 2010 season worth $5 million. Vick was able to participate in all team practices and meetings as well as the Eagles’ last two preseason games. He was eligible to play in the third week of the regular season. Donovan McNabb told reporters he gave coach Andy Reid the idea to sign Vick. He was placed on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list on September 5, 2009. On September 15, Vick was activated to the 53-man roster. He played sparingly as McNabb’s backup. In week 13, against the Falcons, Vick threw a touchdown and ran for a touchdown, his first scores since December 2006. In December 2009, Vick became the Ed Block Courage Award recipient for the Eagles, an award voted by teammates. The award honors players who “exemplify commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.” Vick said of the award, “It means a great deal to me. I was voted unanimously by my teammates. They know what I’ve been through. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been great to come back and have an opportunity to play and be with a great group of guys. I’m just ecstatic about that and I enjoy every day.” On January 9, 2010, in the Eagles’ NFC Wildcard game against the Dallas Cowboys, Vick threw the longest touchdown pass of his career, connecting in the second quarter with rookie Jeremy Maclin for a 76-yard score.
On January 11, 2010, Reid named Donovan McNabb the Eagles’ 2010 starter, but after McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins, Kevin Kolb was named the starter with Vick again second string. Vick said, “I know I can still play at a high level.” When asked if he wanted the Eagles to pick up the second year of his contract, he replied, “I hope so…I feel like I’m probably better than I ever was in my career, as far as the mental aspect of the game.” On March 9, 2010, the Eagles exercised his option for 2010 and Vick received a $1.5 million roster bonus. On September 21, 2010, Reid named Vick the Eagles’ starting quarterback. In his second game as a starter versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Vick led the Eagles to a 28–3 win, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns as well as rushing for a touchdown. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for the month of September. Vick suffered a rib cartilage injury in a week 4 game against the Redskins, and was replaced by Kolb. Vick had gone 5-for-7 for 49 yards with three carries for 17 yards prior to the injury.
On November 15, in a week 10 Monday Night Football matchup against the Washington Redskins, Vick passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns, while he rushed for 80 yards and another two touchdowns. Vick threw an 88-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson on the first play from scrimmage in the game, and went on to lead the Eagles to a 59–28 victory. Vick was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame asked for his game jersey to display after Vick became the first player to pass for three touchdowns and rush for two touchdowns in the first half of a game. On December 19, in a week 15 matchup against the New York Giants, Vick led a fourth quarter rally to erase a 21-point deficit and scored three touchdowns to tie the game with under two minutes left. DeSean Jackson returned the Giants’ last punt of the game for a touchdown to win the game for the Eagles as time expired. Vick finished the season passing for 3,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions with a passer rating of 100.2. He had 100 carries for 676 yards and nine touchdowns.
Vick earned Pro Bowl honors for the fourth time in his career following the season, and was named the starting quarterback for the NFC squad. He was named the Associated Press and Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year following the season. He was named the Bert Bell Award winner for 2010 on March 4, 2011.
On February 15, 2010, the Eagles placed their franchise tag on Vick. He signed the one-year tender on March 2, 2011. On August 29, however, Vick and the Eagles announced they had agreed on a 6-year, $100 million contact with almost $40 million in guaranteed money.
Early controversies and crimesBetween his selection by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft and early 2007, Vick was allegedly involved in several incidents:
In 2007, statements were made by his father, Michael Boddie, about possible dogfighting activities in 2001. Boddie told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that around 2001, 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, Vick’s mother, Brenda Vick Boddie, 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 Vick. Falcons coach Dan Reeves recalled that he lectured Vick at that time on the importance of reputation, on choosing the right friends, and on staying out of trouble for the good of his team.
On October 10, 2004, Vick and other members of his party, including employee Quanis Phillips, were at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport on their way to board an AirTran flight. While they were passing through a security checkpoint, a security camera caught Phillips and Todd Harris picking up an expensive-appearing watch which belonged to Alvin Spencer, a security screener. After watching the theft on a video tape, Spencer filed a police report. 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 got the watch back from them.
In March 2005, Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from him 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 knew of his condition. On April 24, 2006, Vick’s attorney, Lawrence Woodward, revealed that the lawsuit had been settled out of court under undisclosed terms. Many fans bought custom jerseys from NFL.com with Vick’s number 7 and the name “MEXICO” on the back. The NFL has since banned customizing jerseys with the name Mexico.
November 26, 2006 – After a 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 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
On April 24, 2007, Vick was scheduled to lobby on Capitol Hill, hoping to persuade lawmakers to increase funding for after-school programs. Vick missed a connecting flight in Atlanta on Monday to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. He 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 was to be honored for his foundation’s work with after-school projects in Georgia and Virginia. Vick’s mother Brenda accepted the award from the Afterschool Alliance.
On January 23, 2010, the Dallas Morning News reported that steroid trafficker David Jacobs told the paper he supplied steroids to Vick while Vick played for the Falcons. When questioned by federal agents and prosecutors, Vick denied the allegations.
Dog fighting investigationsMain article: Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation
Michael Dwayne Vick
Born June 26, 1980 (1980-06-26) (age 31)
Newport News, Virginia
Alias(es) Ookie, Ron Mexico
Conviction(s) (Federal) Felony conspiracy in interstate commerce/aid of unlawful animal fighting venture (Title 18, USC, Section 371); (State) Felony dogfighting
Penalty (Federal) 23 months in prison, three years probation following release; (State) fine and three-year suspended prison sentence upon condition of good behavior for 4 years beginning November 2008
Status Released on July 20, 2009 after servicing federal sentence, currently on probation (slated to expire in November 2012)
Occupation American football quarterback
Parents Michael Boddie, Brenda Vick
A search warrant executed on April 25, 2007 as part of a drug investigation of Vick’s cousin Davon Boddie led to discovery of evidence of unlawful dog fighting activities at a property owned by Vick in rural Surry County in southeastern Virginia, with extensive dogfighting facilities. Widespread media publicity quickly gained momentum as state officials investigated, soon joined by federal authorities with their own investigation. As the separate state and federal investigations progressed, more and more details of the operations of an interstate dog fighting ring were revealed, with some portions involving drugs and gambling. Gruesome details involving abuse, torture and execution of under-performing dogs galvanized animal rights activists and expressions of public outrage. Vick and several others were indicted on both federal and Virginia felony charges related to the operation.
Federal criminal prosecution
Speech by Senator Robert Byrd made to U.S. Senate following the indictment of Michael Vick on federal dog fighting chargesIn July 2007, Vick and three other men were charged by federal authorities with felony charges of operating an unlawful interstate dog fighting venture known as “Bad Newz Kennels.” Vick was accused of financing the operation, directly participating in dog fights and executions, and personally handling thousands of dollars in related gambling activities. Federal prosecutors indicated they intended to proceed under the powerful provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
ConvictionsBy August 20, Vick and the other three co-defendants agreed to separate plea bargains for the federal charges. They were expected to each receive federal prison sentences between 12 months and five years.
On August 24, Vick filed plea documents with the federal court. He pleaded guilty to “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture”. He admitted to providing most of the financing for the operation and to participating directly in several dog fights in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. He admitted to sharing in the proceeds from these dog fights. He further admitted that he knew his colleagues killed several dogs who did not perform well. He admitted to being involved in the destruction of 6–8 dogs, by hanging or drowning. The “victimization and killing of pit bulls” was considered as aggravating circumstances that led prosecutors to exceed the federal sentencing guidelines for the charge. He denied placing any side bets on the dogfights.
On August 27, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted Vick’s guilty plea.
Failed drug testWhile free on bail, Vick tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test. This was a violation of the conditions of his release while awaiting sentencing in federal court for 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, 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 was ordered to submit to random drug testing.
Incarceration beginsIn November, Vick turned himself in early to begin getting time-served credit against his likely federal prison sentence. He was held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions on December 10, 2007.
Sentencing and prisonOn December 10, Vick appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond for sentencing. 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 dog fighting ring, and he was sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison. Hudson 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”. Vick was assigned to United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, a federal prison facility in Leavenworth, Kansas to serve his sentence.
Fraudulent misappropriation of fundsAt the request of federal authorities before sentencing, Vick agreed to deposit nearly $1 million in an escrow account with attorneys for use to reimburse costs of caring for the confiscated dogs, most of which were being offered for adoption on a selective basis under supervision of a court-appointed specialist. Experts said some of the animals will require individual care for the rest of their lives. During his bankruptcy trial, the U.S. Department of Labor complained that these funds were paid at least partially with unlawfully withdrawn monies which Vick held in trust for himself and eight other employees of MV7, a celebrity marketing company he owns.
State criminal prosecutionSeparate 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 was charged with two class 6 felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for each charge.
Citing the high costs and transportation logistics of proceeding while he was still in federal prisons out of state, the prosecutor, Gerald Poindexter, decided to postpone Vick’s trial in Surry County Circuit Court until after his release from federal custody. Vick’s attorneys sought to resolve the state charges sooner. On October 14, 2008, Woodward filed a motion to enter a plea via two-way electronic video with the Surry County Courts. Vick planned to plead guilty to state charges in an effort to get early release from federal prison and enter a halfway house. The request for a trial without Vick physically present was denied. Poindexter agreed to hold the state trial while Vick was still in federal custody if he bore the costs of his transportation to Virginia and related expenses.
State trial and sentencingIn late November 2008, Vick was transported to Virginia to face state charges. On November 25, he appeared before the Surry County Circuit Court at a session held in neighboring Sussex County because the Surry court building was undergoing renovation. He submitted a guilty plea to a single Virginia felony charge for dog fighting, receiving a 3 year prison sentence, imposition of which was suspended upon condition of good behavior, and a $2500 fine. In return for the plea agreement, the other charge was dropped. Michael Dwayne Vick, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ID# 33765-183, was released on July 20, 2009.
Political activityVick has lobbied for H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would establish federal misdemeanor penalties against convicted spectators of illegal animal fighting and make it a felony for adults to bring children to fights.
During a night-time news show on Sean Hannity, news correspondent Tucker Carlson responded to Obama’s dialogue with the chairman of Philadelphia Eagles. In the show, Carlson called for Vick to be executed.
Financial troublesAt the end of 2006, Sports Illustrated magazine estimated Vick’s annual income between his NFL salary and endorsements at $25.4 million, ranking him just below NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a listing of highest earning athletes. There were problems in Vick’s affairs with poor financial management, bad investments, and lawsuits. A $45 million dollar lawsuit was pending in a dispute with his original sports agents. Several lucrative endorsement deals apparently soured.
After the dog fighting indictments were announced in July 2007, financial claims against Vick escalated. While in prison, Vick’s income was reduced to wages of less than a dollar a day. With affairs severely affected by lost income, legal expenses, litigation, and mismanagement by a series of friends and financial advisers, he was unable to meet scheduled payments and other obligations. Within several months, Vick had been named in numerous lawsuits by banks and creditors for defaulting on loans, some relating to business investments.
The dog fighting property near Smithfield, Virginia had been liquidated earlier, and in November 2007, Vick attempted to sell another of his homes.
As he served his sentence in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, friends and family continued to occupy some of the other homes in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Florida and multiple locations in Virginia. In June 2008, when his brother Marcus was arrested and jailed in Norfolk after a police chase, he listed his residence as a $1.39 million home owned by Vick in an exclusive riverfront community in Suffolk, Virginia. Construction of a new riverfront home took place on land Vick owned in another exclusive section of Suffolk. His attorneys later estimated that he was spending $30,000 a month to support seven friends and relatives, including his mother and brother, three children, and their mothers.
BankruptcyOn July 7, 2008, Vick sought Chapter 11 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. The seven largest creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed a total of $12.8 million. The three biggest unsecured creditors were 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.
Major financial obligationsAlthough dozens of creditors were listed in the initial bankruptcy filing, several stood out as major.
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 in 2001, nine days before he announced he was leaving Virginia Tech early and declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft. With his mother as a witness, Vick signed a five-year marketing agreement that anticipated a wide range of endorsement activities using Vick’s name, likeness, voice and reputation. Joel’s cut would be 25% of all deals, excluding Vick’s NFL contract, according to the agreement. Subsequently, Vick attempted to end the relationship with Joel Enterprises suddenly a few weeks later, and entered into another relationship with other agents. In 2005, Joel Enterprises sued Vick in Richmond Circuit Court for $45 million in compensatory and punitive damages for “breach of contract” . After the Virginia Supreme Court denied a Vick motion and ruled that the civil trial could proceed in December 2006, the parties both agreed to submit the dispute to binding arbitration for resolution instead of a formal civil court trial. The outcome of the case was an award of $4.5 million to Joel.
The Atlanta Falcons sought to recover a portion of Vick’s $37 million 2004 signing bonus. A reduced amount of $20 million was awarded to the Falcons in binding legal arbitration, which Vick disputed. The amount was reduced by an agreement between the parties that Vick will pay the Falcons between $6.5 and $7.5 million, the variance depending upon the outcome of a pending court case which is similar yet unrelated. The bankruptcy court was advised of this Vick-Falcons settlement agreement on April 3, 2009.
On September 20, 2007, the Royal Bank of Canada filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Newport News against Vick for more than $2.3 million for a loan which was to be for real estate purposes. The suit claimed Vick failed to meet a September 10 deadline to repay. On May 7, 2008, the court 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.
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 acquired to be used as rental cars. The Specialty Financing Group of 1st Source provides financing for rental car fleets.
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 had not made scheduled payments. Jenkins, a retired surgeon who has owned Atlantic Wine since 2004, brought Vick in as an investor. In May 2008, that summary judgment in favor of Wachovia against Vick was 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 attorney fees. The order provided that further interest could be accrued.
On March 25, 2009, the United States Department of Labor filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Newport News, alleging that Vick and others violated federal employee benefits law taking funds in the amount of $1.35 million in withdrawals from the retirement plan sponsored by MV7, one of his companies. The money held was in trust under pension laws to fund retirement plans for nine current or former employees of MV7. The Labor Department simultaneously filed an adversary complaint in federal bankruptcy court to prevent Vick from discharging his alleged debt to the MV7 pension plan. The complaint alleged that some of the funds were used to pay restitution ordered in his dogfighting conspiracy case.
Early proceedingsIn August 2008, Vick’s finances were in such disarray that a bankruptcy judge had been asked to appoint a trustee to oversee them. U.S. Trustee W. Clarkson McDow, Jr. noted in court documents filed in Virginia that, by his own admission, Vick “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.
In fall 2007, upon a recommendation from Falcons teammate Demorrio Williams, Vick hired 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. 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 Talbot, a medical school graduate from Hackensack, New Jersey who claimed expertise in financial management. Vick later told the court that he met Talbot in April 2008 through his brother, Marcus, who he said is a good friend of Talbot’s son. Talbot was to be paid $15,000 per month and took 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 statements. Talbot has been 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 the Mercedes-Benz Vick gave Talbot be repossessed and sold, and that Talbot show up at a hearing on September 5.
Attorney Paul K. Campsen explained to the court that Vick “has supported his mother, brother, fiancée and his two children” over the years. He reported that Vick’s financial problems included average monthly expenses of $12,225 for several large homes his family and friends were living in and a monthly income of just $277.69.
Reorganization PlanAfter being granted an extension in July, on November 12, 2008, Vick’s attorneys filed a document entitled “Disclosure Statement With Respect to Debtor’s First Amended Plan of Reorganization.” Under the bankruptcy plan discussed with the Bankruptcy Court earlier at an October 4 hearing, Vick’s plans included selling three of his six homes. For monthly expenses, Vick listed support payments of approximately $30,000 a month. Items included $14,531 a month to his mother (which included $4,700 in mortgage payments and a monthly electric power bill of $663), $12,363 a month to his fiancée and two daughters, and $3,500 a month to Taylor. Creditors challenged Vick’s spending, particularly since his suspension from the NFL. Vick’s attorneys told the judge on November 13 that Vick “has every reason to believe that upon his release, he will be reinstated into the NFL, resume his career and be able to earn a substantial living.”
After objections to the initial reorganization plan, Vick appeared in person before Santoro at a hearing in Newport News on April 2, 2009. In March, Santoro rejected the idea of allowing testimony by video hookup, saying he needed Vick in the courtroom so he could assess his demeanor and credibility. Vick testified that he intended to live a better life after prison. He spoke about his crime, saying that it was “heinous” and he felt “true remorse.” Near the end of the hearing on April 3, Santoro rejected the plan as unsound, saying that it was too strongly predicated on both Vick’s hopes of a return to the NFL and the very substantial projected income which it may bring, neither of which was assured. The judge commended Vick for trying to work out his financial mess after years of poor choices. He told Vick the numbers simply did not add up. Adjourning the case until a status hearing with lawyers on March 28, Santoro told Vick to work with his advisers to create a new plan, and suggested Vick begin by liquidating one or both of his Virginia homes, as well as three of the cars that Vick had intended to keep, and “buy a house more within his means.” Vick earlier testified that he felt obligated to provide for his friends and family because of “where he had come from.” Santoro told Vick that while that might be commendable, “You cannot be everything to everybody. If you do, you’re going to be nothing to anybody.”
On April 28, attorneys met with Santoro for a scheduled update meeting and advised him that they are making substantial progress on a revised plan to submit to the court. They reported having settled all disputes with his creditors, including Joel. On August 27, Santoro approved the revised Reorganization Plan. It was supported by all Vick’s creditors but one, who is owed $13,000. Every creditor will be paid back in six years on the condition that an estimated $9 million in assets is liquidated. Under this plan, Vick will have annual living expenses of $300,000. Vick can spend up to $3,500 each month for rent in Philadelphia and $750 for “utilies and miscellaneous.” He has to pay $3,712 each month on the mortgage for his house in Hampton, Virginia, where his fiancée and two children live, and he can pay up to $1,355 per month in private school tuition for his children. Vick can pay up to $472 each month for car-related expenses. His mother is allowed $2,500 per month, and he has to pay his former girlfriend Tameka Taylor $3,000 per month to support their son, Mitez, and her.
Vick was not required to pay creditors during his first season with the Eagles. Vick paid Segal $32,500 in 2010, $104,000 in 2011, and will pay him $160,000 each year from 2012−2015 for a total of $776,500. He paid bankruptcy lawyers $748,750 in 2010, $1,058,080 in 2011, and a total of $2.6 million.