Mike Vick: Worth $100 million?

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First, there needs to be a disclaimer.  The $100 million part of this reported contract extension Mike Vick just signed with the Philadelphia Eagles has bee greatly exaggerated.  According to the terms of the deal, the 6th year of the contract that puts the total near $100 million is basically a fantasy. It becomes null and void if his playing time ever goes lower than 35% due to injury or for any other reason.  And part of the reported $40 million in guaranteed money includes a bonus that only kicks in if he wins a Super Bowl for the Eagles in 2011 or 2012.  So with that saying, the deal ends up being more around $80 million for 5 years rather than the $100 million for 6 years that is being talked about all over the place.

Since the reports of the deal were announced, however, Vick has been the topic of conversation every sports radio show, television show, magazine articles and blogs known to man.  The biggest question being asked is; is Michael Vick worth another $100 million contract?  As many already know, Vick already received the big money contract years ago while playing in Atlanta, to which he promptly started a business venture involving dog fighting.  Vick was sentenced and has served his time.  This article isn’t about dog fighting or whether or not Vick should be punished the rest of his life for his actions.

A lot of sports reporters like to romanticize this story and turn it into a story of redemption, and of a comeback that no one could have predicted.  In my opinion, there’s nothing romantic about Vick’s story.  An amazing comeback should be one of a player coming back from devastating injury, illness, or a non-self-imposed hardship. Two and a half years ago Vick was a prisoner in a federal penitentiary.  The fact that he has managed to defy the statistics of other men who have been locked up and wound up going back to prison within 2 years does not make him an amazing comeback story.  He has a gift those men do not have.  Anyone ever wondered what happened to the other men sentenced in the dog fighting ring? No one is signing any of them to $100 million contracts.  One of his co-defendants was shot at a Virginia night club hosting a birthday party for Vick in June of 2010.  It should be noted that Vick had left the nightclub before the shooting and was not involved as he is ordered to have no contact with his co-defendants as part of his parole.

Vick was reinstated into the NFL by Roger Goodell, and due to information Vick recently released in an interview with GQ magazine, was actually persuaded to sign as the 3rd string quarterback in Philly as opposed to starting opportunities in Cincinnati or Buffalo.  This is yet another example of Goodell overstretching his boundaries as Commissioner. No one could have predicted what ended up happening in Philly.  Most likely, Goodell wanted to bury Vick on the Philly depth chart where he could quietly re-enter the NFL and not ruffle too many feathers.  If he had gone somewhere and started immediately and that experiment had failed, Goodell would be to blame.  But, if Vick went to Philly and kept his nose clean holding the clipboard, Goodell was a genius.  After his GQ article raised some eyebrows, Vick decided to alter his statement by saying that Goodell had nothing to do with his decision to sign with Philly. Seeing how Goodell operates by clearly letting his personal bias influence league decisions, it’s hard to believe that Goodell didn’t give Vick the impression that returning to Philly as a 3rd string quarterback was his best option, if not a condition of his reinstatement.

As it stands now, Vick, two years from being a 3rd stringer fresh out of Leavenworth is getting paid the big bucks to go in line with Philly’s high expectations for their season.  Does Vick deserve this kind of money again?  I don’t want to get too preachy here but in my opinion no professional athlete deserves $100 million.  Teachers, nurses, law enforcement, soldiers and sailors, those are the kinds of professions that deserve the big bucks.  But professional sports are a business, and they generate much more money than that, so the players should be able to get whatever piece of that pie they can get, while they can get it.  That’s the world we live in.  If my profession paid that kind of money, I certainly would be trying to get the most I could get, and I doubt anyone else would do it differently.