Along with that status, Vick got a $100 million, six-year contract from the Philadelphia Eagles, one that makes him the third-highest paid QB in the league and prompted a press conference today in Philadelphia.
(Update: Philly.com reports that sources say $40 million of that sum is guaranteed money . and with Vick’s deal lowering his salary cap number from $16 million to about $14.4 million, the Eagles may now be able to turn their attention to re-signing disgruntled wide receiver DeSean Jackson.)
After thanking Eagles ownership, management, Roger Goodell, Tony Dungy and others, Vick struck the same themes that have marked his return to the NFL after serving time in a federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring: humility, gratitude, regret, maturity and a new-found patience. Vick, after all, has had a $100 million contract before, in Atlanta, and still ended up in jail and bankrupt. He was expansive, thoughtful and impressive, but read his comments and decide for yourself what you think about Michael Vick now.
“First off, I just want to thank God for the opportunity that I’ve been presented. I thank all the people in my life over the last two years who have made a great contribution and sacrifice in trying to steer me in the right direction and help me out,” Vick said, sitting next to Coach Andy Reid on a podium. “It’s certainly paid dividends. I always lended an open ear, always wanted to commit myself to change, especially in the last two years and I was able to do that and I think it’s led to this point, to where I’m at in my life — being a happy man first, as well as a satisfied football player. So I’m honored to be in the position I’m in now.”
One hundred million dollars is a ton of cash and with it comes expectation. Vick knows that. “I don’t think my career will be complete without a Super Bowl.”
Vick, who has worked with the Humane Society, was asked about making charitable donations. “Those are things I’ve been doing and dedicating my time. I don’t necessarily think it’s all about the money, but at a time of need that will happen. I’m just glad for all the people who gave me the opportunity to work with the Humane Society and Wayne Pacelle [president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States] was one of them. Just a lot of people who were in my life over the last two years were very influential and helped me get to this point today.“
Vick is not concerned that the money will cause him to lose focus, lose his competitive edge. “Absolutely not. If anything, it makes me want to work harder, to continue to show that I’m worthy of everything that I’m getting. I think back to when I first got here and the commitment I made to myself and to Andy. That won’t change. I’ve always been a guy who’s worked hard. I’ve seen the progress that I’ve made in my career and why stop? It’s something that drives you and motivates you. I’m motivated now because I play with such great teammates and we have an opportunity to do something special. I couldn’t be on this stage right now without my teammates and what they’ve done for me and the sacrifices they made for me last year. I just have to give those guys credit as well. ... Through teamwork you make dream work and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Vick signed with the Eagles two years ago, after his release from federal prison. “The last time I was sitting here doing a press conference, I was signing with the Eagles and I didn’t know what direction my future was going in. All I knew was I was happy to be on a football team and have a chance to play football again. Two years later and I’m sitting before you having an opportunity to be a Philadelphia Eagle long-term. It’s a totally different subject matter, but at the same time it’s a blessing. I was ecstatic at that point two years ago to be sitting next to Andy and even happier now under different circumstances.
“It was all in God’s plan. I kept the faith and it all worked out. I couldn’t have done it without Him.”
Vick spoke of learning to keep his life balanced, knowing how to handle a fortune. “It’s a lot of money however you look at it. It’s going to create a lot of demands. I know what comes along with it and how to handle it. Aside from the money, it’s not even about that. It’s about the changes that have been made in my life — kids having an opportunity to see that you should never count yourself out, but at the same time don’t put yourself in a position where you’ve got to make a miraculous comeback. That’s not what it’s about. I did it through the grace of God and because I had the will to do it. ... Be appreciative of what you have, the opportunities you’ve been given in your life and don’t take anything for granted. I did that at one time when I had the big contract in Atlanta and I think that’ll help me now in understanding what’s most important and how to move forward in my life.”
Vick said that experience and maturity have taught him patience. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just live in the moment and take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. You know what kind of talent you have, you know what you can do. You just have to be patient and that’s something I’ve learned over the years and unfortunately while I was away. Everything in life happens for a reason and it taught me patience and I think that’s part of the reason I’m here today. Being patient.”
And Vick knows that the way others see him may never change. It isn’t easy to get past what he did. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be. I can’t control what people think, their opinions, their perception. That’s personal and that’s for them. The only thing I can control is what I can control and that’s trying to be the best person I can be, the best citizen I can be, the best father I can be. I think that speaks for itself. That’s not by force, that’s by choice. Some things may never change. I may never change in certain facets of my life, but it is what it is.”
The League: The rehabilitation of Michael Vick
Eagletarian: Contract contains no special conduct clauses