Michael Vick Retires From NFL
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After playing 13 seasons in the National Football League, former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick is calling it a career. “In this moment right now, I’m willing to say yeah, I’m officially retired, I think it’s time,” Vick told ESPN’s Josina Anderson in an interview on February 4. “I’m ready to move on to different things in my life and different facets of my life.”
Arguably one of the most electrifying players to ever play the game, Vick’s career was one of unforgettable highs and controversial lows, as he simultaneously broke records and became entangled in a dogfighting scandal.
Vick played college football at Virginia Tech, where he immediately turned heads by leading the Hokies to a perfect 11-0 regular season record in his first season. However, Virginia Tech was defeated by the Florida State Seminoles 46-29 in the national championship.The next season, Vick missed most of the year with an injury but still managed to carry the Hokies to a 41-20 victory over the Clemson Tigers in the Gator Bowl.
In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Vick with the first overall pick, making him the first African-American quarterback taken with the first pick in the draft. That season the Falcons finished with a 7-9 record, missing the playoffs. But in 2002, Vick led the Falcons to a 9-6 record and a playoff berth, where the Falcons lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game. After the season, Vick was named to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Over the course of the next three seasons, Vick continued to play at a high level, despite missing several games due to injury. The Falcons made one playoff appearance in 2004 but they lost again to the Eagles in the NFC Championship. Vick was named to consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2004 and 2005, and he later signed a nine-year, $130 million contract extension, showing the Falcons’ long-term commitment to him as a player. In 2006, Vick rushed for 1,000 yards, becoming the first quarterback to do so.
But in April 2007, Vick’s career took a turn for the worse when authorities found evidence that he was running an underground dogfighting operation at Bad Newz Kennels, a property that Vick had owned since 2001 with some friends. A full-fledged investigation was launched to into the dogfighting claims and found that Vick and three other men trained around 50 pit bulls to perform in a dogfighting ring.
In August 2007, Vick pled guilty to felony dogfighting charges brought against him by the state of Virginia and was sentenced to 23 months in prison. Just hours after the guilty plea, the NFL suspended him indefinitely, with the possibility to be reinstated.
After Vick was released from prison on May 20, 2009, he immediately began searching for a new NFL team, after the Falcons released him in February 2009. Many NFL general managers were reluctant to sign Vick for fear of widespread public disapproval. But on August 13, 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles hesitantly signed Vick to a one-year contract. Vick didn’t know it yet, but his best year was yet to come.
Vick became the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2010, and he had the best season of his career with a talent-laden roster that included Pro Bowl wide receiver Desean Jackson. He later led the team to the playoffs, but they lost to the Packers in the first round. After the season, he was named to his fourth Pro Bowl and won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.
However, Vick never replicated the success of his 2010 campaign. He played for three more mediocre seasons with the Eagles, failing to make a single playoff berth or Pro Bowl appearance. In 2014, after being cut by Philadelphia, he signed with the New York Jets. In New York, Vick had the second-worst season of his career. Despite this, Vick managed to rush for 163 yards that season, becoming the first NFL quarterback for rush for at least 6,000 yards in a career.
After being released by the Jets, Vick briefly played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, filling in for injured starter Ben Roethlisberger. Vick lasted three games before injuring his knee and being replaced by third-string quarterback Landry Jones. Since then, Vick hasn’t suited up for an NFL game, which is why his retirement does not come as much of a surprise.
Vick’s innovative play style changed the way the quarterback position is played, but his legacy will always be clouded by his dogfighting scandal and stint in prison.