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Star Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's promising career has been tainted by illegal activities including involvement in an illegal dog-fighting ring.
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1 slot in the 2001 NFL draft and nabbed him.
Vick's reward for turning pro was a six-year, $62 million contract that included a $15 million signing bonus. Playing sparingly his rookie year, Vick took over Atlanta's starting quarterback job the following season, leading the Falcons to the playoffs and earning a spot in the Pro Bowl. After an injury shortened his 2003 season, Vick and his teammates captured the AFC South crown in 2004,
losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
The script seemed to be going as planned. The Falcons were now title contenders and Vick was the franchise QB the club had yearned for. That season, team officials handed Vick a lavish 10-year, $130 million contract extension.
But there would be no Super Bowl parades. Plagued by poor decision-making, a questionable circle of friends, and arrogance, Vick's life and career began to spiral downward. Over the next two seasons, the Falcons' fortunes slipped. They finished around .500 and, while Vick continued to put up good numbers, there were concerns about his maturity and his ability to handle the stardom that had been thrust upon him.
While Vick had talked openly about wanting to leave Newport News (he often referred to it as "Bad Newz," a nickname he later gave his kennel and dog fighting ring) his hometown was never far behind him. His sprawling $3.8 million home in Duluth, Georgia, was a veritable playground for Vick and his childhood pals.
Yet trouble seemed to be always nipping at Vick's heels. In 2004, two men driving a truck owned by Vick were arrested for transporting a large quantity of marijuana. Vick was never prosecuted. The following year, a woman sued him for allegedly giving her a sexually transmitted disease. The QB settled the case out of the court. More serious trouble, however, came two years later. In April 2007, authorities investigating drug activity related to a cousin of Vick's raided a property owned by the football star in Surry County, Virginia. The raid unveiled an entrenched dog-fighting scene that included a number of injured animals.
Vick denied any connection to the ring, even going so far as to tell NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in person that he had nothing to do with it. But as pressure mounted, and the evidence connecting Vick to the ring increased, the Falcons QB pled guilty. In August 2007, he admitted he had bankrolled and participated in the operation. The NFL suspended Vick indefinitely.
Still, it wasn't until October of 2007, following an intense 5-hour grilling by FBI agents, that Vick admitted to killing dogs himself. "I did it all," he is reported to have said. "I did everything. If you need me to say more, I'll say more."
On December 10th, a US District Judge sentenced Vick to 23 months in prison for running a "cruel and inhumane" dog fighting ring and then lying to officials about it. He was also ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution charges.
But while one case closed, the doors to more trouble opened.
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