Michael Vick’s story should eventually find its way into a movie or TV show script.
Few professional athletes, let alone celebrities, have had the rise, fall, and rebirth that Vick went through. A dynamic quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in his prime, Vick gave that up and served prison time for his ties to a dogfighting ring.
Part of that fall included Vick losing the $130 million contract. Here’s why, in hindsight, Vick felt he “deserved” to lose that money.
Michael Vick is an Atlanta Falcons legend
Before there was Lamar Jackson, the NFL had Michael Vick.
To a certain generation of fans, comparing Jackson and Vick may seem wrong. But both had that dynamic and unique explosiveness that no other quarterback could dream of having.
The NFL knew what running quarterbacks were capable of doing. But for as memorable as the likes of Randall Cunningham were, the league had never seen a talent like Vick.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2001, Vick could beat teams with his cannon of an arm or his blazing speed. Vick completed 53.8% of his passes in six seasons with the Falcons for 11,505 yards, 71 touchdowns, and 52 interceptions.
On the ground, Vick totaled 3,869 yards and 21 touchdowns on 7.3 yards per carry.
In 2006, his final season with the Falcons, Vick became the first quarterback in NFL history to total 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Vick finished the year with 1,039 yards on 8.4 yards per attempt.
Vick famously served prison time for his involvement in dog fighting
If he stayed healthy, Michael Vick was on pace to play far more than six seasons with the Falcons. That’s why Vick signed a 10-year contract worth $130 million (with a then-record $37 million guaranteed) with the Falcons in December 2004.
Of course, Vick didn’t finish out that contract. Vick pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of running a dogfighting ring in 2007.
Although federal guidelines suggested Vick serve 12 to 18 months, he instead spent 23 months in prison. According to ESPN, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson didn’t believe Vick accepted responsibility or understood why he was in trouble.
Vick flunked a drug test and “even failed a lie-detector test on his role in the executions of fighting dogs that failed to perform.”
Michael Vick thought he ‘deserved’ to lose his $130 million contract
In 2008, Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy while he sat in prison.
A year later, Vick left prison and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired shortly after his introduction in Philadelphia, Vick reflected on his crimes.
During the sitdown with CBS Sports’ James Brown, Vick admitted he felt he “deserved” to forfeit his Falcons contract.
“I deserved to lose it. I deserved to lose the $130 million. Why would a guy who’s making $130 million on the flip side, you know, killing dogs and doing the wrong thing? They don’t deserve it.”
According to Spotrac, Vick made another $62 million after he re-entered the NFL.
Michael Vick revived his career and restored his reputation — to a certain extent, at least — with the Eagles. Still, he knew at the time that he lost his money and legacy in Atlanta for a reason.