Michael Vick, fresh from dogfighting prison sentence, signs with Philadelphia Eagles
It's official: Michael Vick is back in football. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, disgraced after the revelation of his involvement in the violent world of dogfighting, has signed a contract to play for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick's deal commits him to one year with the Eagles, for which he'll make $1.6 million, Fox Sports reports. The deal includes an option for a second year, for which he would make an additional $5.2 million. (We hope he plans to donate a chunk of that to animal causes, but hey, that's just us.) With the Eagles, he'll apparently serve as a backup for regular quarterback Donovan McNabb, and Fox Sports hints that the Eagles' willingness to take on the controversial player may have been influenced by an injury sustained earlier this week by McNabb's regular backup.
Vick's prison sentence for dogfighting ended last month, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced his conditional reinstatement in the league a week later. Since then, Vick has made two appearances -- one in Atlanta and one in Chicago -- on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States. His alliance with the animal protection group, with which he'll work to combat dogfighting, was announced in May.
The significance of Vick moving to Philadelphia isn't lost on the Humane Society's president and chief executive, Wayne Pacelle. "It's a city we've been looking at very closely because it has a major dogfighting problem," Pacelle said in a phone interview today with our colleague Sam Farmer. "So Vick's landing there has the potential to turn around the issue. This gives us a big boost."
Many initially scoffed at the unlikely partnership between Vick and the Humane Society, guessing that Vick's willingness to participate in its anti-dogfighting efforts was calculated to regain favor with the NFL. But at least one observer, David Squires of Newport News, Va.'s Daily Press newspaper, believes the fallen star has truly reformed. His time in prison "made me become a better person," Vick told Squires in an interview. "Because of what I went through, it'll make me smarter about everything else now. Not just football."
According to the Associated Press, Vick expressed remorse for his involvement in the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting ring in a "60 Minutes" interview scheduled to air Sunday. In the interview, he says he feels "some tremendous hurt behind what happened," adding that "I should have took the initiative to stop it all ... I didn't -- I didn't step up. I wasn't leader."
Here's hoping the remorse is genuine and that Vick can actually do some good in the war against dogfighting.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Vick in a 2006 Atlanta Falcons-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images