Michael Vick a Free Man -- Sort of
This is not a stadium tunnel: Michael Vick leaves a courthouse. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know why; the NFL superstar was discovered to have been extensively involved in a dog fighting operation. He was released today from federal prison in Kansas to begin serving out the final phase of his sentence at home in Virginia. Here's a look at some of the highlights -- and lowlights -- of Michael Vick.
Michael Vick a Free Man -- Sort of
Fallen NFL star has been released from prison, is headed for home confinement and then maybe the gridiron. This is not a stadium tunnel: Michael Vick leaves a courthouse in 2008. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know why; the NFL superstar was discovered to have been extensively involved in a dog fighting operation. He is to be released today to from federal prison in Kansas to begin serving out the final phase of his sentence at home in Virginia. Here's a look at some of the highlights -- and lowlights -- of Michael Vick. In his first game as a redshirt freshman at Virginia Tech, Vick scored three rushing touchdowns in just over a quarter. Sure, it was against the limp D of James Madison, but still: a star was born. Vick led the Hokies to an 11-0 season before suffering defeat in the BCS title game at the hands of Florida State. He also led the NCAA in passing efficiency, setting a record for freshman, earned two college MVP awards, and finished third in Heisman voting -- the highest showing ever for a freshman at the time. Mindful that his family was still in the projects in Newport News, Va., Vick declared early for the NFL draft after his sophomore season and became the first African-American quarterback ever selected with the first pick. Adrien Brody does not attempted to kiss him. San Diego traded their no. 1 pick to Atlanta the day before the draft, so Vick became a Falcon. He was also drafted in the 30th round of the Major League Baseball draft, even though he didn't play baseball in college. After a year of back-up duty, Vick started in 2002 -- and went on to rush for 173 yards against Minnesota, a record for a quarterback. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance and was a candidate for MVP. Vick, shown in Tokyo for the "American Bowl," holds numerous NFL quarterback records, including most rushing yards in a single season, highest average per carry in a season, most 100-yard career rushing games, and, probably, farthest fall from grace. Vick's on-field accomplishments were appreciated even at MTV's TRL, where T.I. showed a little support. But off-field incidents were beginning to whittle away his endorsement deals, which had placed him 33rd on Forbes' list of Top Celebrities in 2005. In 2004, two men distributing marijuana in Newport News, Va., were arrested in a truck registered to Vick. Later that year, two of Vick's entourage were caught on tape stealing a watch from an airport security screener as they and Vick waited to board an AirTran flight. Picture this, but with one less finger, and probably not a smile: After a loss in 2006, Vick was fined $10,000 for each of the birds he gave to his own fans as he left the field after a loss to New Orleans. Warrick Dunn would never! Ladies... In 2005, Vick gave us the greatest alias ever thought of, by anyone, ever. A former girlfriend sued him for failing to inform her he had genital herpes, alleging that he visited clinics under the name "Ron Mexico" to receive treatment. Fans began wearing "Mexico" jerseys until the NFL banned them. Vick settled both out of court and in the care of his bathing suit area. Allegedly. Oh, but that was nothing. The fun began in earnest in April 2007 when authorities, investigating Vick's cousin in a drug case, uncovered evidence of dog fighting at a rural Virginia property owned by Vick. Say cheese! Vick speaks at a press conference following a court appearance in August of 2007. The police rescued 49 dogs from his property, where they found extensive facilities built for fighting as well as evidence of drugs and gambling. We were shocked -- shocked, we say! -- to find gambling in a dog fighting establishment. Vick and three friends were indicted on federal felony and misdemeanor charges relating to his direct involvement in "Bad Newz Kennels," which had been in operation for six years. He plead guilty to avoid further charges like racketeering. The details that leaked from the case were gruesome, and the public outcry very, very loud. Dogs had been hung, drowned, electrocuted and shot. America was also introduced to the horrors of the "rape stand," where dog babies are made. His teammates showed support, but it was futile: Vick would go away for a while, and Atlanta would not want him back. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, with 15% off if he behaved himself, followed by three years of probation. The State of Virginia will has suspended prison time on condition of good behavior until November of 2012. Oh, PETA. The animal rights group was understandably livid, but didn't draw the line at embarrassing perfectly fine dogs by putting them in sandwich boards of protest. If Vick is your dog, do you rape stand him? Falcons fans just wanted to win again. When he negotiated a $130 million contract with Atlanta in 2004, it made Vick the highest paid player in the NFL. The arrest put his finances in the spotlight, and hastened a few financial claims against him. His Duluth, GA home went up for auction. Vick's house failed to sell at auction, which won't help him out with the judge tasked with approving Vick's bankruptcy plan. The plan hinges on Vick making a lucrative return to the NFL, but the no-nonsense judge has suggested that Vick shouldn't try to keep all his mansions while unable to pay his bills. That's crazy talk! Perhaps it was the combination of lion heads and really, really bad wall art. Or an indication of just how much people hate Michael Vick. Only two interested parties showed up at the sale. Perhaps this is how he should have exploited them! Vick's former dogs are now featured on wine labels. Their stories are printed on the back, and 10% of each sale is donated to the Utah shelter that housed many of them. (Later, we're putting our own face on a wine label.) National Geographic's mini-doc "Dogtown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs" told the stories of several of Vick's dogs, which have been rehabilitated and adopted. It remains to be seen if Vick's career will be as resilient as the abused dogs are. What's next for Vick? A period of home confinement, and then either a hard hat or a helmet. "I believe that all of us make mistakes," said old friend and potential future boss John Robert Lawson II, who's promised Vick a $10-an-hour construction job. "And once you have paid the price and fulfilled your commitment, you should be given a second chance." If that's not enough to inspire Vick to work towards the NFL …
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