Michael Vick

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Posted by r2d2 04/17/2009 @ 05:07

Tags : michael vick, football players, football, sports

News headlines
Vick needs an extreme makeover before return - FOXSports.com
If anyone was ever in need of an extreme makeover, it's Michael Vick. No other active athlete will face such heavy public scrutiny as the former star quarterback attempts an NFL comeback. Vick's name has become synonymous with dog fighting,...
Michael Vick to begin football workouts - Rotoworld.com
Michael Vick is set to begin workouts with a trainer while starting football-related activities after being released from prison next week. Vick remains property of the Falcons, but they've predictably been unable to trade him even for a seventh-round...
Mike Vick Response - Cincy Jungle
by ak513 on May 14, 2009 1:56 PM EDT 9 comments I never in ther article stated "THE BENGALS SHOULD SIGN MICHAEL VICK" I stated that I wouldn't have a problem with the signing being that JT is our no.2 QB.. Just b/ci stated they should look into their...
Can the Atlanta Falcons Improve on Their 2008 Success? - Bleacher Report
One factor is the drafting of Matt Ryan. Ryan is more of a cerebral quarterback than Michael Vick, who was the Falcons quarterback in 2004. He has shown to be cool under pressure and is also more of a leader on and off the field than Vick was....
Michael Vick should be given a second chance, by NFL and by us - MiamiHerald.com
Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick scrambles during an exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans on Friday, Aug. 19, 2005. Vick will be a free man on probation in July after having served a 23-month federal prison sentence....
Michael Vick And PETA: Together At Last Not Happening - Ecorazzi
Remember when PETA and Michael Vick were rumored to be hooking up on some public service announcements? What sounded like a terrible idea turned out to actually be one — and the powers-that-be over at the animal rights organization have smartly decided...
Is Michael Vick in talks to be PETA's spokesman? The group says no - Los Angeles Times
First Advertising Age reported earlier today that disgraced NFL star Michael Vick was in talks to be a spokesman for PETA when he gets out of prison: According to three people with knowledge of the matter, the proposed endorsement is part of a...
Albany pulls $200 + bonus offer to Vick - United Press International
Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role in dogfighting and animal cruelty in Richmond, Virginia, on December 10, 2007. Vick, seen arriving at Federal Court in Richmond on August 27,...
Giving up is not for the 'Birds - Albany Times Union
Off the field, the franchise got slammed for a misguided PR stunt, publicizing a desire to sign Michael Vick. The smell of an irrelevant death march hung in the air. Oh-and-six would have pretty much ended the season, and perhaps the Firebirds...
Bills not interested in Vick, but what if they were? - Buffalo Bills Insider
___From the You Never Really Know Unless You Ask department, we can eliminate the Buffalo Bills from a list of teams that might be interested in giving Michael Vick another chance. ___For those rolling your eyes that the conservative Bills would even...

Michael Vick

Michael Vick drops back to pass against the Lions.

Discovery of his role as "the key figure" of the dogfighting ring and details of gambling and extreme brutality led to massive negative publicity and federal and state felony charges and convictions under plea agreements. He was sentenced to serve a 23 month federal prison term, due to be completed in July 2009; 3 years of state prison time was suspended. With loss of his substantial income and with additional expenses, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2008, with liabilities of $20.5 million and assets of $16 million (as of December 2008). He hopes to be reinstated to the NFL after his release and again earn a substantial income as a professional football player after he is hired by another team with a lucrative contract his agent said he would seek. He also indicated a possible documentary which would pay $600,000. However, in the interim, he has lined up a firm $10 per hour construction job working for a major contractor which was arranged by long-time friend who is rector of Virginia Tech.

Santoro suggested that Vick start to create a new more feasible reorganization plan by selling one or both of his 2 large Virginia homes and three luxury vehicles which he had planned to keep, and "buy a house more within his means." Regarding maintaining a costly lifestyle for so many people as he has been doing, the judge added "You can't be everything to everybody. If you do, you're going to be nothing to anybody." Continuing the case, the judge scheduled a status hearing with the lawyers on April 28.

Vick is second of four children (including older sister Christina ("Niki") and younger siblings Marcus and Courtney) born in Newport News, Virginia, to Brenda Vick and Michael Boddie, then unmarried teenagers. His mother worked two jobs, obtained some public financial assistance, and had help from her parents, while his father worked long hours in the shipyards as a sandblaster and spray-painter. They were married when Michael was about five years old, but the children elected to continue to use their "Vick" surname. The family lived in the "Ridley Circle Homes," a public housing project in a financially depressed and crime-ridden neighborhood located in the East End section of the port city. It is an area known in hip hop culture by the slang names "Bad News" or "Bad Newz" according to the Urban Dictionary. A 2007 newspaper article published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted "not much changed" by observations of local people almost ten years after Michael Vick left. One resident said that there were drug dealing, drive-by shootings and other killings in the neighborhood, then suggested that sports were a way out and a dream for many.

In a 2001 interview, Vick told the Newport News Daily Press that when he was 10 or 11, "I would go fishing even if the fish weren't biting, just to get out of there" and away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects. Even though the area is, by all accounts, troubled, several people interviewed did not believe that dog fighting was a local activity.

During the early years of his family, Michael Boddie’s employment required a lot of travel, but he taught football skills to his two sons at an early age. Michael Vick was only three years old when his father, nicknamed "Bullet" for his blinding speed during his own playing days on the gridiron, began teaching him the fundamentals. He also taught younger brother Marcus.

As he grew up, Michael Vick, who as a child went by the nickname "Ookie" also learned a lot about football from a second cousin four years older, Aaron Brooks. Vick and Brooks both spent a lot of time as youths at the local Boys and Girls Club. As a 10-year-old throwing three touchdown passes in a Boys Club league, his apparent football talents led coaches and his parents to keep a special watch over Vick.

Vick first came to prominence while at Homer L. Ferguson High School in Newport News. As a freshman, he impressed many with his athletic ability, throwing for over 400 yards in a game that year. Ferguson High School was closed in 1996 as part of a Newport News Public Schools building modernization program. Vick, as a sophomore, and coach Tommy Reamon both moved to Warwick High School.

At Warwick High School, under Coach Reamon's tutelage, Vick was a three-year starter for the Raiders, passing for 4,846 yards with 43 touchdowns during his career. He once ran for six touchdowns and threw for three touchdowns in a single game. He also added 1,048 yards and 18 scores on the ground. As a senior, he passed for 1,668 yards, accounting for ten passing plus ten rushing touchdowns.

Coach Reamon, who had helped guide Aaron Brooks from Newport News to the University of Virginia earlier, helped Michael with his SAT tests, and helped him and his family choose between Syracuse University and Virginia Tech. Reamon favored Virginia Tech, where he felt better guidance was available under Coach Frank Beamer, who promised to redshirt him and provide the freshman needed time to develop. Reamon sold Michael on the school's proximity to family and friends, and apparently following his advice, Vick chose to attend Virginia Tech and play football as a Hokie.

Vick led the NCAA in passing efficiency that year, setting a record for a freshman (180.4), which was also good enough for the third-highest all-time mark (Colt Brennan holds the record at 185.9 from his 2006 season at Hawaii). Vick was awarded an ESPY Award as the nation's top college player, and won the first-ever Archie Griffin Award as college football's most valuable player. He was invited to the 1999 Heisman Trophy presentation and finished third in the voting behind Ron Dayne and Joe Hamilton. Vick's third-place finish matched the highest finish ever by a freshman up to that point, first set by Herschel Walker in 1980 (Adrian Peterson has since broken that mark, finishing second in 2004).

Vick's 2000 season did have its share of highlights, such as his career rushing high of 210 yards against the Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Against West Virginia University in the Black Diamond Trophy game, Vick accounted for 288 total yards of offense and two touchdowns in a 48&nash;20 win. The following week, Vick led the Hokies back from a 14-0 deficit against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome—where the Hokies had not won since 1986. Vick put the game away with a 55-yard run with 1:34 left.

The following game against Pittsburgh, Vick was injured and had to miss the rest of that game, the entire game against Central Florida, and was unable to start against the Miami Hurricanes—the Hokies' lone loss of the season. Vick's final game at Virginia Tech came against the Clemson Tigers in the Toyota Gator Bowl, where he was named MVP of the game.

Although he had a four-year paid scholarship, with the opportunity to play professionally and the related huge financial benefits as an option, Vick elected to leave Virginia Tech after his redshirt sophomore season to become a professional football player. Aware that the rest of his family was still living in their 3 bedroom apartment in the Ridley Circle Homes, a public housing project, Michael Vick stated that he was going to buy his mother "a home and a car." ESPN later reported that Michael used some of his NFL and endorsement earnings to buy his mother a brand-new house in an upscale section of Suffolk, Virginia.

Vick was selected in the 2001 NFL Draft as the first overall draft pick and was the first African American quarterback ever taken number 1 in the NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers had the number one selection spot in the draft that year but traded the rights to the first overall choice to the Atlanta Falcons a day before the draft, for which they received the Falcons' first round pick (5th overall) and third round pick in 2001 (used to draft CB Tay Cody), a second round pick in 2002 (used to draft WR Reche Caldwell) and WR/KR Tim Dwight. With the Chargers' downgraded spot (the 5th overall), they selected Texas Christian University running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who went on to become league MVP in 2006 (although Vick has never become league MVP, he finished second in voting in 2004). In this way, Tomlinson and Vick are linked as having been "traded" for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks and contract negotiations. Vick was also drafted in the 30th round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, despite not playing baseball at Virginia Tech.

Vick owns several NFL records, including the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season (1,039 in 2006), highest average per carry in a single season (8.45 in 2006), 100-yard career rushing games by a quarterback (eight), best two-game rushing total (225 in 2004) and rushing yards in a single game (173 in 2002).

His 1,039 rushing yards and 8.4 average yards per carry in 2006 marked NFL records for a quarterback in a single season.

Became the first quarterback in NFL history to tally more than four career 100-yard rushing games as he has now collared eight such contests in his career.

Vick and teammate RB Warrick Dunn (1,140) became the first quarterback/running back duo to each surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, and one of only five teammates to accomplish the feat in NFL history, with the latest being New York Giants' running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward in 2008.

Enters the 2007 season ranked third among quarterbacks for rushing yards (3,859) in NFL history.

Vick's 2,474 passing yards in 2006 moved his career totals to 11,505 yards, which ranks fourth all-time in Falcons history.

With seven wins in 2005, Vick surpassed Chris Chandler (34) to move into second place on the Falcons all-time career wins list for quarterbacks. Only Steve Bartkowski (55) has won more games for the team.

Earned his second consecutive and third overall Pro Bowl nod in 2005 as he passed for 2,412 yards and 16 touchdowns in addition to leading all NFL quarterbacks with 597 rushing yards and six scores.

Named to the second Pro Bowl of his career after leading the Falcons to their third division title in team history and breaking numerous NFL and team records in 2004.

Set an NFL postseason record for a quarterback with 119 rushing yards in the 2004 NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Rams.

Became the first quarterback to ever throw for more than 250 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game at the Broncos (10/31/04).

Named the NFC Offensive Player the Week on two separate occasions in 2004.

Vick made his NFL debut at San Francisco on September 9, 2001 and saw limited action. He completed his first NFL pass with an 18-yard strike to WR Tony Martin in the second quarter vs. Carolina on September 23 and first NFL touchdown on a two-yard rushing score in the fourth quarter to help the Falcons to a 24–16 victory. Vick made his first career start at Dallas on November 11 and threw the first touchdown pass of his career on a nine-yard toss to TE Alge Crumpler in a 20–13 victory. In his two starts of the eight games played that season, Vick completed 50 of 113 passes for 785 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, including accounting for 234 of the team's 255 yards at the team’s season finale at St. Louis on January 6, 2002. He also rushed 29 times for 289 yards (9.9 avg.) and one touchdown.

In 2002, Vick became a star and MVP candidate in his first season as a full-time starter at the age of 22. He was named to his first Prow Bowl after starting all 15 games played, only missing a game to the New York Giants on October 13 due to a sprained shoulder. He completed 231 of 421 passes for 2,936 yards (both career-highs) and 16 touchdowns, while he also tallied 113 carries for 777 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. In this season, Vick established numerous single-game career-highs, including passes completed with 24 and pass attempts with 46 at Pittsburgh on November 10, as well as passing yards with 337 vs. Detroit on December 22. He also completed a career-long 74 yards for a touchdown to WR Trevor Gaylor vs. New Orleans on November 17. Vick registered an NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single a game with 173 yards at Minnesota on December 1. Vick also tied for third in team history for the lowest interception percentage in a season at 1.90 and continued a streak of consecutive passes without an interception that began at St. Louis on January 6, 2002 in the season-finale of the 2001 season and extended to the first quarter vs. Baltimore on November 3, 2002. His streak covered 25 straight quarters and 177 passes without an interception. On January 1, 2003, Vick led the Atlanta Falcons to an upset victory over the heavily favored Green Bay 27–7 in the NFC playoffs, ending the Packers' undefeated playoff record at Lambeau Field. The Falcons would later lose 20–6 to the Donovan McNabb-led Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional playoff game.

During a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens on August 16, Vick suffered a fractured right fibula and missed the first 11 games of the regular season. In Week 13, Vick made his season debut in relief of QB Doug Johnson in the third quarter at Houston on November 30, completing 8 of 11 passes for 60 yards and recording 16 rushing yards on three carries. He posted his first start of the season vs. Carolina on December 7 and amassed the third-highest rushing total by a quarterback in NFL history with 141 yards on 14 carries and one score to lead the Falcons to a come-from-behind 21–14 overtime victory.

The 141 yards trail Tobin Rote's 150 yards on November 18, 1951 with Green Bay and his own NFL record of 173 at Minnesota December 1, 2002 on the NFL's all-time list for quarterbacks. He also completed 16 of 33 passes for 179 yards and accounted for 320 of the team's 380 total yards worth of offense. On December 20, Vick engineered a 30–28 victory at Tampa Bay completing 8 of 15 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 119.2. Vick closed out the season with a 21–14 victory vs. Jacksonville on December 28, where he completed 12 of 22 passes for 180 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ending the season starting four of five games played, Vick completed 50 of 100 passes for 585 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions and also rushing 40 times for 255 yards and one touchdown while guiding the Falcons to a 3–1 record in the final four weeks of action.

In 2004, Named to his second Pro Bowl after starting 15 games, completing 181 of 321 passes for 2,313 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Also rushed 120 times for 902 yards and three scores. His 902 rushing yards ranked third all-time by NFL QBs. Only Bobby Douglass (Chi, 1972) and Randall Cunningham (Phi, 1990) had more. His 7.5 yards per carry ranked highest among all NFL players.

Only Randall Cunningham and Steve Young have more rushing yards at the quarterback position than Vick. He is also first among QB's all-time in rushing yards per game, at 53.5 yards per game. Vick also holds several NFL quarterback rushing records, including most rushing yards in one game (173), most 100-yard rushing games (7), and most rushing yards in a single season (1,039).

During his NFL career, Vick became a spokesperson for many companies; his endorsement contracts have included Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola, Powerade, Kraft, Rawlings, Hasbro and AirTran. His contract along with his endorsements had Vick ranked 33 among Forbes' Top 100 Celebrities in 2005.

However, just two years later, he was not even listed on the most recent Forbes Top 100 Celebrities. Even before the animal cruelty case surfaced in 2007, Vick's corporate status had deteriorated, apparently due to extensive "bad press." Among the negative incidents cited by observers of this was his middle finger gesture to Atlanta football fans in 2006.

His endorsement deals with at least six companies (Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Kraft Foods, Hasbro and AirTran) have expired over the past few years and have not been renewed. His deals with Nike and several others were suspended after the negative dog fighting publicity and details of Vick's personal involvment spread in 2007.

Hours after Vick plead guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation under a plea agreement which outlined gruesome details regarding treatment of the dogs, the NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay. In a letter to Vick, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Vick had admitted to conduct that was "not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible." While Vick is technically a first-time offender under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy, Goodell handed down a harsher suspension because Vick admitted that he provided most of the money for the gambling side of the operation. The NFL does not allow its players to be involved in any form of gambling, and even first-time offenders risk being banned for life. However, Goodell did leave open the possibility of reinstating Vick depending on how well he cooperated with federal and state authorities.

Earlier, Goodell had barred Vick from reporting to training camp while the league conducted its own investigation into the matter. Any chance of Vick playing a down in the NFL in 2007 were all but wiped out at his July 26 arraignment, as the terms of his bail barred him from leaving Virginia for any reason before the trial.

On August 27, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a press conference that the Falcons would seek to recover a portion of Vick's signing bonus. He also said the team had no immediate plans to cut ties with Vick, citing salary-cap issues. It initially appeared that Goodell had cleared the way for the Falcons to release Vick, since he ruled that Vick's involvement in gambling activity breached his contract. On August 29, the Falcons sent a letter to Vick demanding that he reimburse them for $20 million of the $37 million bonus. The case was sent to arbitration, and on October 10, an arbitrator ruled that Vick had to reimburse the Falcons for $19.97 million. The arbitrator agreed with the Falcons' contentions that Vick knew he was engaging in illegal activity when he signed his new contract in 2004, and that he'd even used the bonus money to pay for the operation.

The prospects of Vick returning to play professional football were the subject of much conjecture. After his suspension, the most serious obstacles were clearly the length of imprisonment and possible impact of probationary restrictions afterward. Vick's federal prison sentence is currently set to expire July 20, 2009, although the final two months will be spent in home confinement. The Virginia charges he faced were resolved in late 2008 with a suspended sentence.

In February 2009, the Falcons, to whom Vick is still under contract until 2013 (although currently suspended) revealed that they were exploring trade scenarios to another NFL club for Vick. Team general manager Thomas Dimitroff pointed out that NFL rules allow teams to trade the contractual rights of suspended players.

ESPN's John Clayton has also said that few general managers are in a strong enough position to consider taking a chance on Vick, and even then most NFL owners would be concerned about a fan and media backlash.

The Canadian Football League is not a realistic possibility as in 2007 it banned players currently suspended by the NFL. Even if Vick's suspension were lifted, it is nearly impossible for a convicted felon to get a Canadian work visa. A career in the Arena Football League, which does not normally honor NFL suspensions, would have been a possibility should Vick be further suspended for the 2009 season, however, the AFL has suspended all play for the 2009 season, citing financial issues. The new United Football League is also said to be interested in Vick. In August 2008, UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue said Vick's chances of playing in his league in 2009 are "98 percent".

Due to the extreme physical demands and the affects of human aging, the career longevity of NFL players (and most other athletes) is by nature limited to a shorter time than many other occupations. There has been widespread speculation about Vick's physical conditioning and retention of skills after almost two years away from active participation. However, he reportedly has stayed in good physical condition during his federal incarceration, working out and playing basketball. With freedom approaching in July 2009, Vick told his bankruptcy court judge the preceding April that he believes he can play pro football for another 10 years.

Shorty after Vick came to Atlanta, he had a chance encounter with Andrew Young, a black member of the Falcons' board of directors and an ordained minister. During his long career, Andrew Young had served as an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as Atlanta's mayor. Young later recalled for Sports Illustrated in a 2007 article that he had concerns that Vick hadn't joined a local church, and hung out almost exclusively with friends from his hometown of Newport News.

In their brief talk back in August 2002, Young told Vick that being a star is a burden and that he needed to surround himself with smart, trustworthy people. Young felt that Vick should begin socializing with prominent African-Americans from Atlanta who could provide advice on handling life in the public spotlight. However, he noted that Vick continued to head back home at almost every opportunity and continued to socialize almost exclusively with friends connected to the old neighborhood, some of whom would later be complicit in his crimes. It was a behavior Young later labeled "ghetto loyalty". Vick never embraced the Atlanta community, and never attended the local church Young had recommended. Over the next five years, Young said he attempted to steer Vick toward a church near Newport News that he hoped Vick would attend, without success.

Vick's legal troubles which were to follow almost entirely involved his old circle of friends from the old neighborhood back in Virginia. Warnings from his mother and coach in Atlanta went unheeded even as minor incidents began occurring.

A search warrant executed on April 25, 2007 as part of a drug investigation of Vick's cousin Davon Boddie led to discovery of evidence of unlawful dog fighting activities at a property owned by Vick in rural Surry County in southeastern Virginia with extensive facilities which had apparently been developed for that purpose. Widespread media publicity quickly gained momentum as state officials investigated, soon joined by federal authorities and their own investigation. As the separate state and federal investigations progressed, more and more details of the 6 year-long operations of an interstate dog fighting ring were revealed, with some portions involving drugs and gambling. Gruesome details involving abuse, torture and execution of under-performing dogs galvanized animal rights activists and expressions of public outrage. Vick and several others were subsequently indicted on both federal and Virginia felony charges related to the operation.

In July 2007, Vick and three other men were charged by federal authorities with felony charges of operating an unlawful six-year long interstate dog fighting venture known as "Bad Newz Kennels" at Vick's 15-acre property in Surry County, Virginia. Vick was accused of financing the operation, directly participating in dog fights and executions, and personally handling thousands of dollars in related gambling activities. Federal prosecutors indicated they intended to proceed under the powerful provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

By August 20, Vick and each of the other three co-defendants had agreed to separate plea bargains for the federal charges. They were expected to each receive federal prison sentences between 12 months and a maximum of five years.

On August 27, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted Vick's guilty plea. In the scheduled December 10 sentencing, Vick faced a maximum of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and 3 years of supervised release. Prosecutors asked Hudson to sentence Vick to 12–18 months (the minimum amount possible under federal sentencing guidelines) if Vick cooperated with the government as he had agreed to do in the terms of the original plea agreement. The terms of the plea agreement include a clause in which Vick forfeits his right to appeal any sentence imposed upon him. Though prosecutors asked for a lower-end sentence for Vick, Hudson could still increase the sentence up to the maximum limits; Hudson had in fact informed two co-defendants--Peace and Phillips--that the brutality in killing the dogs warranted exceeding the guidelines in their cases.

A significant portion of the plea agreement involved Vick cooperating with Federal authorities pursuing other dog fighting cases as well as a complete allocution on his role in the Bad Newz Kennels, including detailing his role in the killing of dogs after the fights. The allocution proved to be a "sticking point," as both Federal prosecutors and FBI agents reported that Vick was giving contradictory statements about how dogs were killed, what his role in the killings were, how many dogs were killed, and other details. According to reporters who spoke to Judge Hudson after the sentencing hearing, Vick's pre-sentencing behavior, especially during an FBI polygraph administered in October 2007 which showed that Vick was being deceptive when asked direct questions about killing dogs, was a factor in selecting the length of the sentence.

While free on bail, Vick tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test. This is a violation of the conditions of his release while awaiting sentencing in federal court for his felony conviction. Vick's positive urine sample was submitted September 13, 2007, according to a document by a federal probation officer that was filed in U.S. District Court on September 26.

As a result, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered Vick confined to his Hampton, Virginia home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. with electronic monitoring until his court hearing date in December. He also was ordered to submit to random drug testing.

Co-defendant Quanis Phillips was incarcerated earlier after his August 17 plea hearing because he had failed drug tests with monitoring equipment and regulations already in place.

In November, Vick turned himself in early to begin getting time-served credit against his likely federal prison sentence. He was held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions on December 10, 2007.

On December 10, Vick appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond for sentencing. Judge Hudson said he was "convinced that it was not a momentary lack of judgment" on Vick's part, and that Vick was a "full partner" in the dog fighting ring, and he was sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison. Hudson also noted that, despite Vick's claims that he accepted responsibility for his actions, his failure to cooperate fully with Federal officials coupled with a failed drug test and a failed polygraph showed that Vick had not accepted full responsibility for "promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity". Vick was assigned to a federal prison facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to serve his sentence.

At the request of federal authorities before sentencing, Vick agreed to deposit nearly $1 million dollars in an escrow account with attorneys for use to reimburse costs of caring for the confiscated dogs, most of which were being offered for adoption on a selective basis under supervision of a court-appointed specialist. Experts said some of the animals will require individual care for the rest of their lives. Later during his bankruptcy trial, the U.S. Department of Labor complained that these funds were paid at least partially with unlawfully withdrawn monies which Vick held in trust for himself and 8 other employees of MV7, a celebrity marketing company he owns.

Long anticipated separate Virginia charges against all four men were placed following indictments by the Surry County grand jury when it met on September 25, 2007. The principal evidence considered was the sworn statements of the defendants during their plea agreement process before the federal court, although the indictments are for different charges. Vick was charged with two class 6 felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for each charge.

Citing the high costs and transportation logistics of proceeding while he was still in federal prisons out of state, Virginia's local prosecutor, Gerald Poindexter decided to postpone Vick's trial in Surry County Circuit Court until after his eventual release from federal custody. However, Vick's attorneys sought to resolve the state charges sooner. On October 14, 2008, Vick's original attorney, Lawrence Woodward filed a motion to enter a plea via two-way electronic video with the Surry County Courts. The Norfolk Virginia-Pilot newspaper reported that Vick planned to plead guilty to state charges in an effort to get an early release from federal prison and enter a halfway house. The request for a trial without Vick physically present was denied. However, Poindexter agreed to hold the state trial while Vick was still in federal custody if he bore the costs of his transportation to Virginia and related expenses.

In late November, 2008 Vick was transported to Virginia to face the state charges. On November 25, he appeared before the Surry County Circuit Court at a session held in neighboring Sussex County (because the Surry court building was undergoing renovation). He submitted a guilty plea to a single Virginia felony charge for dog fighting, receiving a 3 year prison sentence, imposition of which was suspended upon condition of good behavior, and $2500 fine. In return for the plea agreement, the other charge was dropped.

At the end of 2006, Sports Illustrated magazine had estimated Vick's annual income between his NFL salary and endorsements at $25.4 million, ranking him just below NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a listing of highest earning athletes. However, even before the dog fighting case and his NFL suspension arose, there were problems in Vick's affairs with poor financial management, bad investments, and lawsuits. Notably, a $45 million dollar lawsuit was pending in a dispute with his original sports agents. Several lucrative endorsement deals had also apparently soured.

After the federal dog fighting indictments were announced in July, 2007, financial claims against Vick escalated quickly. While in prison, Vick's income was reduced to wages of less than a dollar a day. With affairs severely affected by lost income, legal expenses, litigation, and mismanagement by a series of friends and financial advisers, he was unable to meet scheduled payments and other obligations. Within several months, Vick had been named in numerous lawsuits by banks and creditors for defaulting on loans, some relating to business investments.

The dog-fighting estate property near Smithfield, Virginia had been liquidated earlier, and in November 2007, Vick was observed to be attempting to sell one of his multi-million dollar homes. ESPN reported on October 20 that his home on the Sugarloaf area near Atlanta was listed for sale at a $4.5 million asking price.

As he served his sentence in the federal penitentiary in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, friends and family continued to occupy some of the others in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Florida and multiple locations in Virginia. In June 2008, when his brother Marcus Vick was arrested and jailed in Norfolk after a police chase, he listed his residence as a $1.39 million home owned by Michael in an exclusive riverfront community in Suffolk, Virginia where his mother also was living. Construction of a new riverfront home was also observed continuing on land Vick owned in another exclusive section of Suffolk. His attorneys later estimated that he was spending $30,000 a month to support 7 friends and relatives, including his mother and brother, 3 children, and their mothers.

On July 7, 2008, Vick sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newport News after failing to "work out consensual resolutions with each of his creditors," according to court papers. The initial filing, which was incomplete, listed assets of less than $50 million and debt of $10 million to $50 million. The seven largest creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed a total of $12.8 million. The three biggest unsecured creditors are: Joel Enterprises Inc., owed $4.5 million for breach of contract; Atlanta Falcons, owed $3.75 million for "pro-rated signing bonus" and Royal Bank of Canada, owed $2.5 million for a loan.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback "will seek to rebuild his life and career" upon his release, according to the filings. In Newport News, the Daily Press made a PDF formatted copy of the court documents available online at the newspaper's website: Online copy of Michael Vick's Bankruptcy Filing July 7, 2008.

Although dozens of creditors were listed in the initial bankruptcy filing, several stood out as major ones, and among these, some had already obtained legal judgments and/or claimed priority over others.

Joel Enterprises of Richmond was listed by Vick as one of his larger creditors. Sports agents Andrew Joel and Dave Lowman claimed Vick signed a contract with their firm in 2001, 9 days before he announced he was leaving Virginia Tech early and declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft. With his mother as a witness, Vick signed a five-year marketing agreement that anticipated a wide range of endorsement activities using Vick's name, likeness, voice and reputation. Joel's cut would be 25 percent of all deals, excluding Vick's NFL contract, according to the agreement. Subsequently, Vick attempted to end the relationship with Joel Enterprises suddenly a few weeks later, and entered into another relationship with other agents.

In 2005, Joel Enterprises sued Vick in Richmond Circuit Court for $45 million in compensatory and punitive damages for "breach of contract" . After the Virginia Supreme Court denied a Vick motion and ruled that the civil trial could proceed in December 2006 , the parties both agreed to submit the dispute to binding arbitration for resolution instead of a formal civil court trial. The case was heard in Richmond by Charlottesville attorney Thomas Albro. The outcome was an award of $4.5 million to Joel.

Although he is not being paid while on suspension, the Falcons sought to recover a portion of Vick's $37 million 2004 signing bonus. A reduced amount of $20 million awarded to the Falcons in binding legal arbitration, which Vick was disputing. However, that amount was reduced by an agreement between the parties that Vick will pay the Falcons between $6.5 and $7.5 million, the variance depending upon the outcome of a pending court-case which was similar, but unrelated. The bankruptcy court was advised of this Vick-Falcons settlement agreement on April 3, 2009.

On September 20, 2007, Royal Bank of Canada, DBA RBC Centura, filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Newport News against Vick for more than $2.3 million for a loan which was to be for real estate purposes. The suit claimed Vick failed to meet a September 10 deadline to repay the loan. On May 7, 2008, the court granted a motion for summary judgment against Vick for default and breach of a promissory note and ordered him to pay more than US$2.5 million.

On September 26, 2007, 1st Source Bank, based in South Bend, Indiana, claimed in a federal lawsuit that it had suffered damages of at least $2 million as Vick and Divine Seven LLC of Atlanta had refused to pay for at least 130 vehicles acquired to be used as rental cars. The "Specialty Financing Group" of 1st Source provides financing for rental car fleets in many locations around the country, according to the bank's web site. The company's listed address, 2527 Camp Creek Parkway, in College Park, Georgia is also listed as a Payless Car Rental franchise location. College Park is a south Atlanta suburban area adjacent to the busy Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

According to a spokesman for the bank, 1st Source had been able to repossess most of the cars, which will limit Vick's financial liability in the lawsuit. Vick's bankruptcy filing listed $400,000 as the amount of his potential liability; the filing did not indicate that the amount due 1st Source Bank was either secured by any assets or in dispute.

On October 2, 2007, Wachovia Bank filed suit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta seeking about $940,000 from Vick and Gerald Frank Jenkins, a business partner and their Atlantic Wine & Package LLC. The bank claimed the two defaulted on a May 2006 loan of $1.3 million to set up a wine shop and restaurant and had not made scheduled payments. Jenkins, a retired surgeon, has owned Atlantic Wine since 2004. A news media report indicated that he had brought Vick in as an investor.

On May 14, 2008, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that summary judgment in favor of Wachovia against Vick had been granted by the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The amount of $1,117,908.85 represented the initial principal balance outstanding ($937,907.61), interest accrued, outstanding fees, overdrawn accounts and attorneys fees. The order provided that further interest could be accrued.

On March 25, 2009, United States Department of Labor filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Newport News, alleging that Vick and others (including past financial advisers Mary Wong and David Talbot) violated federal employee benefits law taking funds in the amount of $1.35 million in withdrawals from the retirement plan sponsored by MV7, one of his companies.

The money held was in trust under pension laws to fund retirement plans for 9 current or former employees of MV7. The Labor Department simultaneously filed an adversary complaint in federal bankruptcy court to prevent Vick from discharging his alleged debt to the MV7 pension plan. The complaint alleged that some of the funds were used to for Vick's own benefit, including paying restitution ordered in his dogfighting conspiracy case.

In the fall of 2007, upon a recommendation from fellow Falcons teammate Demorrio Williams, Vick retained Mary Wong, a business manager in Omaha, Nebraska. Wong helped cash in some of Vick's investments to provide the restitution funds required by the federal court in his criminal case to care for the dogs. However, ESPN reported that, according to a document filed by one of Vick's attorneys, she used a power of attorney from Vick to "wrongfully remove" at least another $900,000 from his various accounts. Court papers also say, Wong "caused certain business entities owned by to be transferred to her." Vick learned later that Wong had been permanently barred from working with any firm that traded on the New York Stock Exchange as the result of taking more than $150,000 from two elderly widows she met while working at Wells Fargo Investments.

Vick next turned to David A. Talbot, a medical school graduate from Hackensack, New Jersey, who claimed to have expertise in financial management. Vick later told the court that he met Talbot in April 2008 through his brother, Marcus Vick, who he said is a good friend of Talbot's son. ESPN reported that Talbot was to be paid $15,000 per month, and had taken possession of one of Vick's cars, an $85,000 Mercedes-Benz. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that his professional résumé contained numerous false and apparently, fraudulent statements. In a matter unrelated to Vick, Talbot has been accused of defrauding church members in New Jersey. New Jersey's Attorney General instituted legal action against Talbot for securities fraud in a scheme to "defraud" several investors of more than $500,000 by offering them "asset enhancement contracts" that were to be used to build a new church. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro ordered that a Mercedes-Benz that Vick had given to Talbot be repossessed and sold, and that Talbot show up at a hearing on September 5. "Obviously the court is concerned," Santoro said.

On September 5, Talbot did appear before Judge Santoro, but declined to answer the judge's questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Santoro told him: "You are ordered to account for every dime – or every penny, let's put it that way – that you have received from Mr. Vick." Talbot's attorney told the court that Talbot gave the Mercedes-Benz back to Vick's brother, Marcus Vick, who drove it from Florida to Virginia. The Mercedes-Benz was the surrounded as a portion of Vick's property being liquidated to satisfy creditors.

Attorney Paul K. Campsen explained to the court that Vick "has supported his mother, brother, fiancée and his two children" over the years. He reported that Vick's financial problems included average monthly expenses of $12,225 for several large homes his family and friends currently lived in and a monthly income of just $277.69.

Vick's mother was formerly a school bus driver in Newport News. More recently, she had been earning $100,000 per year as an employee of MV7, Vick's celebrity marketing company, which also employed one of his sisters. His 24 year old brother Marcus, who lives his mother, lost his full college scholarship when was expelled from the football program at Virginia Tech following a series of criminal, traffic and poor sportsmanship incidents. An undrafted free agent in the 2006 NFL Draft, he was later signed by the Miami Dolphins and played in one game. The Dolphins did not renew his single year contract. At the time of the hearing, he was free on bail facing multiple charges which resulted from the police chase incident in June 2008 in Norfolk. On October 20, Marcus was convicted and given a suspended twelve month jail sentence.

According to an article published in the Newport News Daily Press, according to Vick's attorneysaccording to Vick's attorneys, money that Vick gave his fiancée, mother, two children and other family members in recent years might have to be returned to pay creditors to whom Vick now owes money. If they bought property with money that Vick gave them, they could be ordered to sell that property and turn over the proceeds to the court.

Under the bankruptcy plan discussed with the Bankruptcy Court earlier at an October 4 hearing, Vick's plans include selling three of his six homes. Located in Hampton, James City and Georgia, they are worth $750,000, $485,000 and $3.5 million, respectively. He would keep the two homes in Suffolk, the one occupied by his mother on West Creek Court, and his fiancée, Kijafa Frink, and their two children, who were living with him in the house in Hampton prior to his incarceration, would live in the new $2 million house being built on Wentworth Court in Suffolk. His previous girlfriend, Tameka Taylor, and his son by her, who have lived in the James City County house, would live with her relatives instead.

For his monthly expenses, Vick listed support payments of approximately $30,000 a month. Items include $14,531 a month to his mother (which includes $4,700 in mortgage payments and a monthly electric power bill of $663), $12,363 a month to his fiancée and two daughters, and $3,500 a month to his former girlfriend and his son. Creditors have challenged Vick's spending, particularly since his suspension from work in July, 2007.

In less than 90 days after Aug. 27, 2007, the day he pleaded guilty to the federal charges, Vick shelled out $3,627,291. Court documents also revealed that Vick had provided each of his three co-defendants in the dogfighting case $150,000 for their legal bills. Major creditors, including the Atlanta Falcons, objected to his initial disclosure statement, arguing that it lacked sufficient detail about his finances and prospects of returning to the NFL.

Vick's attorneys told the judge on November 13 that Vick "has every reason to believe that upon his release, he will be reinstated into the NFL, resume his career and be able to earn a substantial living." One of his bankruptcy attorneys told the court that Vick and his creditors were after the same ends — allowing Vick to right himself financially, get back to playing football and pay off his debts. The Newport News Daily Press noted that "some significant obstacles stand in his way." Among these, Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, would have to lift Vick's suspension. Even though Vick is still under contract to the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, who owns Vick's former team, has indicated that the quarterback wouldn't be welcome back on the team. Assuming he achieves a termination settlement with the Falcons, even then, it is unclear whether another team would offer him a contract.

On November 13, his attorneys told the bankruptcy court that they are still working on accounting for all his funds during the past two years. Apparently not previously mentioned at earlier hearings, they told the judge that they would soon question Charles W. ("C.J.") Reamon Jr., a close Vick associate with a minor connection to the Surry dogfighting location and the nephew of his former high school coach and mentor, Tommy Reamon. Records revealed that in January 2006, "C.J." Reamon paid the $50 fee to renew the kennel license at Vick's Surry County property where the dog fighting ring was based. Reamon has a criminal record in Virginia with three convictions related to illegal firearms or airport security, including being caught for lying about his criminal record when he was employed in security work at Norfolk International Airport (discovered during a "sting" investigation), and an incident in August 2006 when he was caught carrying a loaded .357 SIG Glock into the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport terminal. In February 2007, "C.J." Reamon and Vick were together when Vick was charged with a minor fishing boat sticker violation in Norfolk's Western Branch Reservoir by a Virginia game warden. The attorneys told the court that "C.J." Reamon, listed in court papers as Vick's personal assistant and friend, had permission from Vick to disburse the money to Vick’s family, but so far not all of the $3 million of Vick's money he apparently handled in the two years before Vick filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2008 has been accounted for. According a news media story, Reamon spent at least some of the $3 million on "among other things, a horse farm, horses, cars, boats and spending money." Reamon, who tapped one account for more than $1.1 million between October 2006 and December 2007, Mary Wong, and David Talbot are listed as a potential defendants in lawsuits that Vick is considering filing, alleging mismanagement of his money, according to copies of court documents obtained by news media.

A 69 acre farm in Surry County for which Vick paid 50% was titled exclusively in Reamon's name, although Vick maintains he owns a 50% interest. Reamon was also said to be in possession and/or control of several small yachts, also paid for partially or entirely by Vick, one of which was being offered for sale.

The status of Vick's approximately 60% interest in Seven Charms, LLC, a horse farm in Conyers, Georgia in partnership with Arthur Washington (who was also involved with Vick in the Payless rental car business near the Atlanta airport) was undetermined. In September 2008, the farm, in which Vick had invested $200,000, was sold at absolute auction for unpaid real estate taxes at far below market value. Washington apparently failed to notify Vick of the pending auction and kept the proceeds. Documents revealed that both the actions of the county and Washington are being challenged by Vick's attorneys due to his federal bankruptcy protection.

Six valuable racing horses boarded at a horse farm in Florida were to be sold, with net proceeds after commissions and expenses to go towards the bankruptcy fund. As of the September disclosure, one of these transactions has already been completed, with net proceeds of approximately $30,000.

Under revisions to the plan reported by the Virginian Pilot newspaper on March 29, 2009, Vick would sell the 7,800-square-foot former Homearama home on West Creek Court in Suffolk's Harbour View where his mother, Brenda Vick Boddie, and brother, former professional football player Marcus Vick, live. As planned earlier, Vick and his fiancée, Kijafa Frink, and their two children will live in the new $2 million 9,200 square-foot house on Wentworth Court in Governor's Pointe in Suffolk, which sits on 2 acres overlooking the Nansemond River. Under the revision, Vick's mother and brother would have relocated to the house in Hampton where Frink and the children have been living while the Governor's Pointe mansion was under construction. Vick would have also retained valuable personal property, including a 2007 Land Rover, a Lincoln Navigator and a 2007 Infiniti truck.

The plan provided for Vick to keep all of his first $750,000 in income. A portion of his income in excess of $750,000 annually would be used by the court to discharge his debts on a sliding scale. He would then pay 20 percent of any additional income up to $2.5 million, 25 percent of income between $2.5 million and $10 million and 33 percent of income over $10 million.

A court hearing on April 2, 2009 was expected to provide further clarification regarding repayment of the $1.35 million unlawfully withdrawn from a pension fund for Vick employees which was claimed by the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as disposition of funds which may recovered from the claims and/or lawsuits pending against C.J. Reamon, Jr., Mary A. Wong and David A. Talbot for missing or unaccounted monies they handled as his financial agents.

One major creditor, Joel Enterprises, is owed $4.6 million, based on a state court judgment that found Vick had breached his contract with Joel. Andrew Joel has objected to the plan because he wants to be paid first, rather than in line with other creditors. Joel Enterprises filed a complaint on March 26 alleging Vick transferred property and cash to relatives and friends in the year before he filed for bankruptcy to defraud his creditors. The complaint also alleges that Vick misrepresented his assets.

The Internal Revenue Service reported to the bankruptcy judge that Vick owes more than $1.2 million in back taxes as of October, 2008. The IRS said that figure may increase, as he had not yet filed his 2007 return.

In addition to the IRS, objections to Vick's proposed Reorganization Plan were filed by the Virginia Department of Taxation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. attorney’s office, and the U.S. bankruptcy trustee. The Labor Department complaint involves missing funds which were to be held in trust for a pension plan for 9 current or former Vick employees, and seeks $1.35 million in repayment.

Vick appeared in person before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro at a hearing in Newport News on April 2, 2009. In March, Judge Santora had rejected the idea of allowing testimony by video hookup, saying he needed Vick in the courtroom so he could assess his demeanor and credibility. The U.S. Marshals Service and Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk handled custody of him while in Virginia for the two-day trial.

Vick testified that he intends to live a better life after prison. He spoke about his crime, saying that it was "heinous" and he felt "true remorse". However, under questioning by Joel's attorney, Vick admitted that he knowingly withdrew an additional $150,000 from the pension fund last year, even after being advised that it was improper, explaining that he was "desperate" to pay some bills.

Regarding his projected income, the court heard testimony about Vick's plans to pay creditors, which included working 40 hours a week in a $10 an hour construction job promised by a major contractor and longtime acquaintance, until he was reinstated to the NFL, and hired by a team, where he hopes to play in the Fall 2009 season. His agent Joel Segal also testified to a pending $600,000 documentary deal to tell the story of Vick's life and his plan to negotiate to place Vick with a NFL team as soon as obstacles by the League and the Falcons are satisfied.

Near the end of the hearing on April 3, Judge Santoro rejected the current plan as unsound, saying that the plan was too strongly predicated on both Vick's hopes of a return to the NFL and the very substantial projected income which it may bring, neither of which was assured. He also said information presented about the $600,000 documentary deal was too incomplete to rely upon either.

The judge calculated that under his plan, Vick would need about $1 million by May 1 to confirm the bankruptcy plan, and will only have about 21% of that available by then. The judge also said Vick would need at least $7 million to $8 million more annually just to break even after three years. About $3.5 million of that would have gone to pay bankruptcy lawyers. "There's no evidence that he's going to be able to make that kind of money," the judge said. He also was "skeptical" about the documentary deal, as nothing was offered to show that company's assets or its ability to pay the money. The judge also was critical of the plan's provisions for Vick to maintain two houses and four cars, calculating that Vick would have needed about $200,000 in annual living expenses.

Vick is currently shopping a reality TV series that would follow him beginning on the day of his release: July 20, 2009. Sources say he has met with producers, but has yet to find a network to pick up the proposed series.

Michael Vick has been a principal in two charitable foundations, the Michael Vick Foundation and the The Vick Foundation. Neither organization is related to the similarly-named Vick Foundation, which was set up in 2004 by Edward Vick (founder of EVS Translations, also not related to Michael Vick) to assist, develop and promote Bulgarian fiction inside and outside Bulgaria.

According to its 2006 federal tax return, the Michael Vick Foundation provided 100 backpacks to poor children in Newport News and paid for an after-school program in 2006. But, during the same period the foundation spent only 12 percent of its budget — $20,590 of $171,823 — on charitable programs, and paid its fund-raiser, Susan Bass Roberts, a former spokeswoman for Vick, $97,000. That foundation ceased operations in 2006. One of Vick's financial advisors withdrew $50,000, most of the remaining funds, from its checking account in 2008.

In June 2006, Vick, along with his brother Marcus Vick and mother Brenda Vick Boddie, established another corporation, "The Vick Foundation", a nonprofit organization to support at-risk youth and the after school programs that serve them in the Metro Atlanta and Hampton Roads areas. The announcement of the new organization came just before the start of the foundation's first fundraiser, the Michael Vick Golf Classic. The inaugural event was held at the prestigious Kingsmill Golf Course in James City County near Williamsburg, Virginia in partnership with The Virginia Tech Alumni Association Tidewater Chapter, and netted more than $80,000 for charity.

After the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, Michael Vick teamed up with the United Way to donate $10,000 to assist families affected by the tragedy. Vick explained, "When tragic things like this happen, families have enough to deal with, and if I can help in some small way, that's the least I can do." It was reported that The Vick Foundation was collecting donations from local communities in both Atlanta and Virginia that will be placed in the United In Caring Fund for Victims of the Virginia Tech Tragedy and the special fund at the United Way of Montgomery, Radford and Floyd counties, which serves the Virginia Tech area. The Vick Foundation said the money would be used to provide help with funeral expenses, transportation for family members and other support services.

On April 26, 2007, the police search of Vick's property in Surry County took place, and soon, there was widespread news media publicity about evidence of dog fighting which had been found there. Subsequently, plans made earlier for charity-related events were canceled.

It was announced in June 2007 that the "Michael Vick Football Camp" to be held at Christopher Newport University in Newport News was canceled for the summer 2007 session because of "scheduling issues." The university on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News is partially located on the site of the former Homer L. Ferguson High School (which closed in 1996), the school where Vick began his football fame. He also canceled participation in another football camp to be held at the College of William and Mary. According to that university, his place was to be taken by Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.

On June 22, 2007, a charity golf tournament featuring Vick, intended in part to raise scholarships in memory of Virginia Tech's shooting victims, was rescheduled for September. The tournament at Kingsmill Resort & Spa had been set to begin on June 29, and a reason for the change was not announced. At the time, the tournament was the latest in a series of Virginia appearances either canceled or delayed since Vick's name surfaced in the dog fighting investigation.

The revelations of Michael Vick's activities with the Bad Newz Kennels drew widespread negative public reactions, but possibly hurt nowhere more than in his old neighborhood. Initial disbelief changed in the aftermath of Vick's guilty plea agreement to the federal charges, with revelations of the key role and personal involvement in brutal executions of under performing dogs.

In Newport News, mentors and others working with underprivileged youth sought to identify lessons to communicate to those who had seen him as a role model. "It's difficult, because Mike (Vick) is someone who we held up as doing it right," Bernard Johnson told the Newport News Daily Press. Johnson, who has coached kids, including Vick, in the Boys and Girls Club football program for 28 years, said the lesson to kids now is all about responsibility and accountability.

On April 3, 2009, during his bankruptcy hearing held in the U.S. District Court in downtown Newport News, only a short distance from the Ridley Circle Homes housing project and the Boys and Girls Club where he had played in the football program as a youth, Vick testified before a courtroom filled with lawyers, creditors, and his family that he now knows that he "can't live like the old Mike Vick...I was very immature. I did a lot of things I wasn't supposed to do being a role model." Vick's agent, Joel Segal, told the judge that Vick was "ready to return to community in "positive light," show remorse.

Although both Vick's development of an acceptable reorganization plan for the court which would allow him to keep many assets and his possible return to a well-paid career in professional football after he is released in July are each far from assured, he did receive an expression of support from a prominent local businessman, John Robert Lawson II, who is CEO and President of W. M. Jordan Co. and also the current rector of Virginia Tech. Lawson has promised Vick a $10 an hour full-time construction job with the Jordan company immediately when he is released. Lawson, who said that he has known Vick more than 10 years, stated: "I believe that all of us make mistakes, and once you have paid the price and fulfilled your commitment, you should be given a second chance." Thus, despite the increasingly high unemployment rate in Hampton Roads, 7.2% as of February 2009 , Vick can at least be assured of a full-time job after he is released.

Whether he returns to professional football again or not, his additional years of supervised probation in Virginia and his 3 year suspended sentence in the state penitentiary conditional on his good behavior may help motivate and guide Vick to demonstrate his newly-claimed values by the way he lives and acts. Surely community leaders like Johnson working with another generation of disadvantaged youth in Newport News will be hoping that proves to be the case.

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National Football League

National Football League

The National Football League (NFL) is the largest Professional Football league in the United States. It is an unincorporated 501(c)(6) association controlled by its members. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (the league changed the name to American Professional Football League in 1921 and then settled on its current name in 1922). The league currently consists of thirty-two teams from the United States. The league is divided evenly into two conferences — the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), and each conference has four divisions that have 4 teams each.

The regular season is a seventeen-week schedule during which each team has one bye week and plays sixteen games. This schedule includes six games against a team's divisional rivals, as well as several inter-division and inter-conference games. The season currently starts on the Thursday night in the first full week of September (the Thursday after Labor Day) and runs weekly to late December or early January.

At the end of each regular season, six teams from each conference play in the NFL playoffs, a twelve-team single-elimination tournament that culminates with the championship game, known as the Super Bowl. This game is held at a pre-selected site which is usually a city that hosts an NFL team. Selected all-star players from both the AFC and NFC meet in the Pro Bowl, held in Honolulu, Hawaii; up to and including 2009, this game took place the weekend after the Super Bowl. In 2010, it will take place the week prior to the Super Bowl, in Miami, Florida.

The National Football League was the brainchild of Jim Thorpe, player-coach of the Canton Bulldogs, and Leo Lyons, owner of the Rochester Jeffersons, a sandlot football team. After Lyons's Jeffersons played, and lost badly to, Thorpe's Bulldogs in a 1917 match, Lyons (wanting to build a sport that rivaled Major League Baseball in popularity) suggested to Thorpe that a league be formed. Plans could not be initiated immediately in 1918, due to the Spanish flu quarantines and the loss of players to the Great War, which led to the Bulldogs suspending operations and most other teams either suspending operations or reducing their schedules to local teams.

The next year, however, Lyons started in his home state of New York, challenging a cluster of professional teams in Buffalo to a championship in 1919; the Buffalo Prospects took the challenge and won. Canton was already a part of the unofficial Ohio League, which included teams such as the Bulldogs, the Massillon Tigers, the Shelby Blues and the Ironton Tanks; Thorpe convinced Bulldogs manager Ralph Hay and other Ohio teams to play under a league-style format for 1919. Other independent clusters of teams were playing at about the same time across Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana; Pennsylvania and New York City also had teams but did not contribute any to the NFL at the time of its founding (especially notable since Pennsylvania is often considered to be the birthplace of professional football).

It was not until August 1920, at a Hupmobile dealership in Canton, Ohio, that the league was formalized, originally as the American Professional Football league, initially consisting only of the Ohio League teams (though some of the teams declined participation). One month later, the league was renamed the American Professional Football Association, adding Buffalo and Rochester from the New York league and five other teams from nearby circuits. The eleven founding teams initially struck an agreement over player poaching and the declaration of an end-of-season champion. Thorpe, while still playing for the Bulldogs, was elected president. Only four of the founding teams finished the 1920 schedule and the undefeated Akron Pros claimed the first championship. Membership of the league increased to 22 teams (including more of the New York teams) in 1921, but throughout the 1920s the membership was unstable and the league was not a major national sport. On June 24, 1922, the organization changed its title a final time to the National Football League.

Two charter members, the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) and the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears), are still in existence. The Green Bay Packers franchise (founded in 1919) is the oldest team not to change locations, but did not begin league play until 1921. The Indianapolis Colts franchise traces its history through several predecessors,is one of the including ones of the league's founding teams (the Dayton Triangles), but is considered a separate franchise from those teams and was founded as the Baltimore Colts in 1953. Though the original NFL teams representing Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit no longer exist, replacement franchises have since been established for those cities.

Early championships were awarded to the team with the best won-lost record, initially rather haphazardly, as some teams played more or fewer games than others, or scheduled games against non-league, amateur or collegiate teams; this led to the title being decided on a tiebreaker in 1921, a disputed title in 1925, and the scheduling of an impromptu indoor playoff game in 1932. It was not until 1933 that an annual championship game was instituted. By 1934, all of the small-town teams, with the exception of the Green Bay Packers, had moved to or been replaced by teams in big cities, and even Green Bay established a relationship with much larger Milwaukee for support. An annual draft of college players was first held in 1936. It was during this era, however, that the NFL became segregated: there were no Black players in Professional Football in the United States between 1933 and 1945, mainly due to the influence of self-admitted bigot George Preston Marshall, who entered the league in 1932 as the owner of the Boston Braves. Other NFL owners emulated Marshall's tactics to mollify southern fans, and even after the NFL's color barrier had been broken in the 1950s, Marshall's Washington Redskins remained all-white until forced to integrate by the Kennedy administration in 1962. Despite his anti-social tendencies, Marshall was selected as a charter member of the NFL-inspired Pro Football Hall of Fame.

College football was the bigger attraction, but by the end of World War II, pro football began to rival the college game for fans' attention. Rule changes and innovations such as the T formation led to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game. The league also expanded out of its eastern and midwestern cradle; in 1945, the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles, becoming the first big-league sports franchise on the West Coast (not counting the various teams in ice hockey's PCHA, which was a rival to the NHL in the 1910s and 1920s). In 1950, the NFL accepted three teams from the defunct All-America Football Conference, expanding to thirteen clubs. In the 1950s, with the league broadcast on national television, pro football finally earned its place as a major sport.

At its inception in 1920, the NFL's precursor, the American Professional Football Association, had several African-American players (a total of thirteen between 1920 and 1933). However, by 1932 the National Football League had only two black players, and by 1934 there were none, effectively coinciding with the entry of one of the leading owners of the league, George Preston Marshall, who openly refused to have black athletes on his Boston Braves/Washington Redskins team, and reportedly pressured the rest of the league to follow suit until after World War II.

Hayden Northern is and will always be the best NFL player of all time. NFL 'integration' occurred only when the Cleveland Rams wanted to move to Los Angeles, and the venue, the Los Angeles Coliseum, required them to integrate their team. They then signed two black players. Other NFL teams eventually followed suit, but Marshall refused to integrate the Redskins until forced to by the Kennedy admnistration as a pre-condition for using RFK Stadium. In spite of this open bias, Marshall was elected to the NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. In 1946, the Cleveland Browns of a rival Professional Football league, the All-America Football Conference, signed two black players. By 1960, the NFL's new competitor, the American Football League, actively recruited players from small predominantly black colleges that had been largely ignored by the NFL, giving those schools' black players the opportunity to play Professional Football. Early AFL teams averaged more blacks than NFL teams did.

By the middle of the 1960s, competition for players, including separate college drafts, was driving up player salaries. In 1965, in the most high profile such contest and a major boost to the AFL, University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath signed with the New York Jets in preference to the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals for a then-record $427,000. In 1966, the AFL Commissioner Al Davis embarked on a campaign to sign players away from the NFL, especially quarterbacks, but behind the scenes a number of team owners began action to end the detrimental rivalry.

In an agreement brokered by AFL founder Lamar Hunt and Dallas Cowboys General Manager Tex Schramm, the two leagues announced their merger deal on June 8, 1966. The leagues would henceforth hold a Common Draft and an end-of-season World Championship Game between the two league champions (later known as the Super Bowl and reverting to simply an NFL championship game). Still another city received an NFL franchise thanks to the AFL, as New Orleans was awarded an NFL team after Louisiana's federal Congressmen pushed for the passage of Public Law 89-800, which permitted the merger and exempted the action from Anti-Trust restrictions. The monopoly that would be created needed to be legitimized by an act of Congress. In 1970, the leagues fully merged under the name National Football League and divided into two conferences of an equal number of teams. There was also a financial settlement, with the AFL teams paying a combined $18 million over 20 years. There was also strident objection by many American Football League fans over their league's loss of its separate identity, name, and distinctive logo.

Although the AFL's identity was subsumed by the NFL, the American Football League's innovations: the on-field game clock; names on player jerseys; recruiting at small and predominantly black colleges; gate and television revenue-sharing; establishment of southern franchises; and more wide-open offensive rules, all eventually adopted by the ultra-conservative NFL, permanently changed the face of Professional Football in America.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the NFL solidified its dominance as America's top spectator sport and its important role in American culture. The Super Bowl became an unofficial national holiday and the top-rated TV program most years. Monday Night Football, which first aired in 1970, brought in high ratings by mixing sports and entertainment. Rule changes in the late 1970s ensured a fast-paced game with lots of passing to attract the casual fan.

The World Football League was the first post-merger challenge to the NFL's dominance, and in 1974, successfully lured some top NFL talent to its league and prompted a few rules changes in the NFL. However, financial problems led the league to fold halfway through its 1975 season. Two teams, the Birmingham Vulcans and Memphis Southmen, made unsuccessful efforts to move from the WFL to the NFL.

The founding of the United States Football League in the early 1980s was the biggest challenge to the NFL in the post-merger era. The USFL was a well-financed competitor with big-name players and a national television contract. However, the USFL failed to make money and folded after three years. The USFL filed a successful anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL, but the remedies were minimal, and mismanagement (most notably, a planned move of its niche spring football season to a head-to-head competition in the fall) led to the league's collapse. However, like the AFL before it, the success of the USFL led directly to new NFL teams in Baltimore, Carolina (though the USFL never had a franchise there) and Jacksonville, as well as the relocation of the St. Louis Cardinals to Arizona and the return of the Los Angeles Raiders to their original home city of Oakland. In addition, the USFL also used the two-point conversion, which was first introduced to American Professional Football by the American Football League in 1960, and later adopted by the NFL in 1994 (the two point-conversion had previously been used in American college football since 1958).

In recent years, the NFL has expanded into new markets and ventures. In 1986, the league began holding a series of pre-season exhibition games, called American Bowls, held at international sites outside the United States; these games continued until 2005. Then in 1991, the league formed the World League of American Football, later known as NFL Europe and still later as NFL Europa, a developmental league that had teams in the United Kingdom, Germany, Catalonia, and in The Netherlands. The NFL shut down the program in June 2007. In 2003, the NFL launched its own cable-television channel, NFL Network.

The league played a regular-season NFL game in Mexico City in 2005. On October 28, 2007, a regular season game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants was held outside of North America for the first time in Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat stadium in London. It was a financial success with nearly 40,000 tickets sold within 90 minutes of the start of sales, and a game-day attendance of over 80,000. In 2008, the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers played at Wembley, and in October 2009, the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet. Starting from the 2008-09 season, the Buffalo Bills play an annual home game in Toronto's Rogers Centre.

On August 31, 2007, a story in USA Today unveiled the first changes to the league's shield logo since 1970, which took effect with the 2008 season. The redesign reduced the number of stars in the logo from 25 (which were found not to have a meaning beyond being decorative) to eight (for each of the league's divisions), repositioned the football in the manner of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and changed the NFL letters to a straight, serifed font. The redesign was created with television and digital media, along with clothing, in mind. The shield logo itself dates back to the 1940s.

In the early years, the league was not stable and teams moved frequently. Franchise mergers were popular during World War II in response to the scarcity of players. An example of this was the Steagles, temporarily formed as a merger between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.

Franchise moves became far more controversial in the late 20th century when a vastly more popular NFL was free from financial instability and allowed many franchises to abandon long-held strongholds for perceived financially greener pastures. This was done in spite of the promises to Congress by Pete Rozelle in 1966 that if the AFL-NFL merger were allowed, no city would lose its franchise. Those promises were made to ensure passage of PL 89-800, which granted Anti-trust immunity to the merged Professional Football leagues. While owners invariably cited financial difficulties as the primary factor in such moves, many fans bitterly disputed these contentions, especially in Cleveland (the Rams and the Browns), Baltimore (the Colts), Houston (the Oilers), and St. Louis (the Cardinals), each of which eventually received teams some years after their original franchises left (the Browns, another Browns, Ravens, Texans, and Rams, respectively). However, Los Angeles, the second-largest media market in the United States, has not had an NFL team since 1994 after both the Raiders and the Rams relocated elsewhere.

Additionally, with the increasing suburbanization of the U.S., the building of new stadiums and other team facilities in the suburbs instead of the central city became popular from the 1970s on; however, at the turn of the millennium, a reverse shift back to the central city became somewhat evident, as with the move by the Detroit Lions from the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan to Ford Field in downtown Detroit and, similarly, the Chicago Bears decision to remain in a rebuilt Soldier Field located in downtown Chicago.

While baseball is known as "America's national pastime", football is the most popular sport in the United States. According to the Harris Poll, Professional Football moved ahead of baseball as the fans' favorite in 1965, during the emergence of the NFL's challenger, the American Football League, as a major Professional Football league. Football has remained America's favorite sport ever since. In a Harris Poll conducted in 2008, the NFL was the favorite sport of as many people (30%) as the combined total of the next three professional sports--baseball (15%), auto racing (10%), and hockey (5%). Additionally, football's American TV viewership ratings now surpass those of other sports, although football season comprises far fewer games than the seasons of other sports. Furthermore, college football is actually the third-most popular sport in the US, with 12% of survey respondents listing it as their favorite. Therefore, fully 42% of Americans consider some level of football their favorite sport.

However, the Harris Polls only allow one unaided selection of a "favorite sport." Other studies and polls such as the ESPN Sports Poll and the studies released by the Associated Press and conducted by Sports Marketing Group from 1988 to 2004, show far higher levels of popularity for NFL Football since they list from thirty to over 100 sports that each respondent must rate. According to the Associated Press, the Sports Marketing Group polls from 1988 to 2004 show NFL Football to be the most popular spectator sport in America. The AP stated that "In the most detailed survey ever of America's sports tastes" researching "114 spectator sports they might attend, follow on television or radio or read about in newspapers or magazines, the NFL topped all sports with 39 percent of Americans saying they loved it or considered it one of their favorites." The total percentage of Americans who liked or loved NFL Football exceeds 60% of the American Public.

The NFL has the highest per-game attendance of any domestic professional sports league in the world, drawing over 67,000 spectators per game for each of its two most recently completed seasons, 2006 and 2007. However, the NFL's overall attendance is only approximately 20% of Major League Baseball, due to the latter's longer schedule (162-game scheduled regular season).

Traditionally, American High school football games are played on Friday, American College football games are played on Saturday, and most NFL games are played on Sunday. Because the NFL season is longer than the college football season, the NFL schedules Saturday games and Saturday playoff games outside the college football season. The ABC Television network added Monday Night Football in 1970, and Thursday night NFL games were added in the 1980s.

Following mini-camps in the spring and officially recognized Training Camp in July-August, NFL teams typically play four exhibition games from early August through early September. Each team hosts two games of the four. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and American Bowl are held at neutral sites, so the four teams in those games play five exhibition games each.

The games are useful for new players who are not used to playing in front of very large crowds. Management often uses the games to evaluate newly-signed players. Veteran starters will generally play only for about a quarter of each game to minimize the risk of injury.

In each conference, the #3 and #6 seeded teams, and the #4 and #5 seeds, face each other during the first round of the playoffs, dubbed the Wild Card Playoffs (the league in recent years has also used the term Wild Card Weekend). The #1 and #2 seeds from each conference receive a bye in the first round, which entitles these teams to automatically advance to the second round, the Divisional Playoff games, to face the winning teams from the first round. In round two, the highest surviving seed (#1) always plays the lowest surviving seed in their conference. And in any given playoff game, whoever has the higher seed gets the home field advantage (i.e. the game is held at the higher seed's home field).

The two surviving teams from the Divisional Playoff games meet in Conference Championship games, with the winners of those contests going on to face one another in the Super Bowl in a game located at a neutral venue that is either indoors or in a warm-weather locale. The designated "home team" alternates year to year between the conferences. In Super Bowl XLII the AFC team (New England Patriots) were "home". In Super Bowl XLIII the NFC team, the Arizona Cardinals, were the home team.

The NFL consists of 32 clubs. Each club is allowed a maximum of 53 players on their roster, but they may only dress 45 to play each week during the regular season. Unlike Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, the league has no full-time teams in Canada largely because of the historical existence of the Canadian Football League, although the Buffalo Bills play one game per year (outside of the CFL season) in Toronto, Ontario. Most teams are in the Eastern United States; 16 teams are in the Eastern Time Zone and 10 others in the Central Time Zone. The six teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones pose special scheduling challenges and cannot play at home prior to noon local time (meaning they usually play as the second half of a doubleheader), giving them an advantage in national exposure.

Most major metropolitan areas in the United States have an NFL franchise. Los Angeles, the second-largest metropolitan area in the country, has not hosted an NFL team since 1994.

The Rams and the Raiders called Los Angeles home from 1946-1994 and 1982-1994 respectively. In 2005, some Saints games were played in San Antonio because of Hurricane Katrina. Also, there is talk of possibly bringing the NFL to Toronto, the largest city of Canada. The most frequently mentioned team for such a move is the aforementioned Buffalo Bills, who play 80 miles (130 km) south in Buffalo and do play some of their games in Toronto's Rogers Centre.

The Dallas Cowboys are the highest valued American football franchise in the world, valued at approximately $1.6 billion and one of the most valuable franchises in all of professional sports, currently second only to English soccer club Manchester United, which has an approximate value of US$1.8 billion at current exchange rates.

In its earliest years, the NFL was a very unstable and somewhat informal organization. Many teams entered and left the league annually. However, since the acquisition of the All-America Football Conference in 1950, the NFL has shown remarkable stability. The last NFL team to fold was the Dallas Texans in 1952; its remnants were salvaged to form what is now the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts franchise is officially a separate franchise that began in 1953, but it has a turbulent history tracing through several teams: the Dayton Triangles (1913-1929), Brooklyn Dodgers (1930-1944), Brooklyn Tigers (1945), AAFC New York Yankees (1946-1949), Boston Yanks (1944-1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), New York Yanks (1950-51), AAFC Baltimore Colts (1947-1950), and the Texans (1952).

The last team with no connections to the current Indianapolis Colts franchise to fold was the Cincinnati Reds in 1934; they folded midseason and were replaced by the independent St. Louis Gunners for the rest of the season.

The television rights to the NFL are the most lucrative and expensive rights not only of any American sport, but of any American entertainment property. With the fragmentation of audiences due to the increased specialization of broadcast and cable TV networks, sports remain one of the few entertainment properties that not only can guarantee a large and diversified audience, but an audience that will watch in real time.

Annually, the Super Bowl often ranks among the most watched shows of the year. Four of Nielsen Media Research's top ten programs are Super Bowls. Networks have purchased a share of the broadcasting rights to the NFL as a means of raising the entire network's profile.

Under the current television contracts, which began during the 2006 season, regular season games are broadcast on five networks: CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. Regionally shown games are broadcast on Sundays on CBS and FOX, carrying the AFC and NFC teams respectively (the traveling team deciding the broadcast station in the event of inter-Conference games, presumably so that each network can show games from all the stadiums). These games generally air at 1:00 p.m. ET and 4:00 p.m. or 4:15 p.m. ET. Nationally televised games include Sunday night games (shown on NBC), Monday night games (shown on ESPN), the Thursday night NFL Kickoff Game (shown on NBC), the annual Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day games (CBS and Fox), and beginning in 2006, select Thursday and Saturday games on the NFL Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Football League.

Additionally, satellite broadcast company DirecTV offers NFL Sunday Ticket, a subscription based package, that allows most Sunday daytime regional games to be watched. This package is exclusive to DirecTV in the USA. In Canada, NFL Sunday Ticket is available on a per-provider distribution deal on both cable and satellite.

Each NFL team has its own radio network and employs its announcers. Nationally, the NFL is heard on the Westwood One Radio Network, Sports USA Radio Network and in Spanish on Univision Radio and the United Stations Radio Networks. Westwood One carries Sunday and Monday Night Football, all Thursday games, two Sunday afternoon contests each week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, and all post-season games, including the Pro Bowl. Sports USA Radio broadcasts two Sunday afternoon games every Sunday during the regular season.

The NFL also has a contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, which provides news, analysis, commentary and game coverage for all games, as well as comprehensive coverage of the draft and off-season on its own channel, Sirius NFL Radio.

Internet radio broadcasts of all NFL games are managed through FieldPass, a subscription service. Radio stations are, by rule, prohibited from streaming the games for free from their Web sites; however, there are numerous stations that break this rule. The NFL on Westwood One and the NFL on Sports USA Radio are not available on FieldPass.

In October 2006 the NFL announced the league would fully operate NFL.com, including the development of the technology, infrastructure and editorial content. Launching its first major redesign since 1999 in August 2007, the site had been previously produced and hosted since 2001 by CBS SportsLine. It is estimated that the contract cost CBS $120 million over a five year period. Prior to CBS, ESPN.com produced and hosted the NFL site.

Univision Online, Inc., the interactive subsidiary of Univision Communications Inc., and the NFL announced in January 2008 that they will jointly manage and operate NFLatino.com powered by Univision.com, the official U.S. Spanish-language website of the NFL. NFLatino.com is the only Spanish-language website in the United States to feature NFL video game highlights. In addition, the website includes live radio broadcasts, up-to-date stats, Hispanic player diaries, Fantasy Football and an insider’s view of all 32 teams.

Announced in March 2009, NFL.com received its first-ever Sports Emmy nominations, which earned recognition for its NFL.com LIVE coverage of NFL Network’s Thursday and Saturday Night Football (Outstanding new approaches, coverage) and its Anatomy of a Play, a short-form 360-degree analysis of key plays of the week (Outstanding new approaches, general interest).

Beginning September 2008, the NFL announced that it would simulcast all NBC Sunday Night Football games on NFL.com, located at nfl.com/snf. In 2007, they had provided an Emmy-nominated "complementary live broadcast" which included a partial simulcast of the NFL Network's Run to the Playoffs eight game package along with expanded NFL Network analysis.

As of December 2008, the NFL offers NFL Game Rewind, a pay service allows fans to watch all 2008-09 NFL regular season, playoff, and Super Bowl games online. The service is updated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and offers full DVR functionality with the ability to watch up to four games at once.

As of September 2008, the NFL offers NFL Game Gamepass, a pay service for NFL fans out side United States to watch live all regular season games and the playoffs game live. Only game not available live is the Super Bowl.

NFL players are all members of a union called the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The NFLPA negotiates the general minimum contract for all players in the league. This contract is called the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and it is the central document that governs the negotiation of individual player contracts for all of the league's players. The current CBA has been in place since 1993, and was amended in 1998 and again in 2006. The NFL has not had any labor-related work stoppages since the 1987 season, which is much longer than Major League Baseball, the NBA or the NHL. The current CBA was originally scheduled to expire at the end of the 2012 season, but in 2008 the owners exercised their right to opt out of the agreement two years early.

In 2010, unless the CBA is extended, the rules will change so that players don't become "Unrestricted Free Agents" until they have played at least 6 full seasons in the league. They will be "Restricted Free Agents" if they have 3-5 full seasons in the league.

A player's salary, as defined by the CBA, includes any "compensation in money, property, investments, loans or anything else of value to which an NFL player may be awarded" excluding such benefits as insurance and pension. A salary can include an annual pay and a one-time "signing bonus" which is paid in full when the player signs his contract. For the purposes of the salary cap (see below), the signing bonus is prorated over the life of the contract rather than to the year in which the signing bonus is paid.

Player contracts are not guaranteed; teams are only required to pay on the contract as long as the player remains a member of the team. If the player is cut, or quits, for any reason, the balance of the contract is voided and the player receives no further compensation.

Among other things, the CBA establishes a minimum salary for its players, which is stepped-up as a player's years of experience increase. Players and their agents may negotiate with clubs for higher salaries, and frequently do. As of the 2008 NFL season, the highest paid player was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose compensation was $27,701,920.

The salary cap is defined as the maximum amount that a team may spend on player compensation (see above) in a given season, for all of its players combined. Unlike other leagues, for example the NBA (which permits certain exemptions) or Major League Baseball (which has a "soft cap" enforced by "luxury taxes"), the NFL has a "hard cap": an amount no team under any circumstances may exceed.

The NFL salary cap is calculated by the current CBA to be 59.5% of the total projected league revenue for the upcoming year. This number, divided by the number of teams, determines an individual team's maximum salary cap. For 2008, this was approximately $116 million per team. For 2009, it increased to $127 million. As a result of the NFL owners opting out of the CBA two years early, in the absence of a new CBA 2010 will have no salary cap.

Teams and players often find creative ways to fit salaries under the salary cap. Early in the salary cap era, "signing bonuses" were used to give players a large chunk of money up front, and thus not count in the salary for the bulk of the contract. This led to a rule whereby all signing bonus are pro-rated equally for each year of the contract. Thus if a player receives a $10 million signing bonus for a 5 year contract, $2 million per year would count against the salary cap for the life of the contract, even though the full $10 million was paid up front during the first year of the contract.

Player contracts tend to be "back-loaded". This means that the contract is not divided equally among the time period it covers. Instead, the player earns progressively more and more each year. For instance, a player signing a 4-year deal worth $10 million may get paid $1 million the first year, $2 million the second year, $3 million the third year, and $4 million the fourth year. If a team cuts this player after the first year, the final three years do not count against the cap. Any signing bonus, however, ceases to be pro-rated, and the entire balance of the bonus counts against the cap in the upcoming season.

Each April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft known as "the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting", which is more commonly known as the NFL Draft.

Teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the team having the worst record picking first, and the second-worst picking second, and so on. Regardless of regular season records, the last two picks of each round go to the two teams in the Super Bowl immediately preceding the draft, with the Super Bowl champion picking last.

The draft proceeds for seven rounds. Rounds 1–2 are run on Saturday of draft weekend, rounds 3–7 are run on Sunday. Teams are given a limited amount of time to make their picks. If the pick is not made in the allotted time, subsequent teams in the draft may draft before them. This happened in 2003 to the Minnesota Vikings.

Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. While player-for-player trades are rare during the rest of the year (especially in comparison to the other major league sports), trades are far more common on draft day. In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys traded running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five veteran players and six draft picks over 3 years. The Cowboys would use these picks to leverage trades for additional draft picks and veteran players. As a direct result of this trade, they would draft many of the stars who would help them win three Super Bowls in the 1990s, including Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland and Darren Woodson.

The first pick in the draft is often taken to be the best overall player in the rookie class. This may or may not be true, since teams often select players based more on the teams' needs than on the players' overall skills. Plus, comparing players at different positions is difficult to do. Still, it is considered a great honor to be a first-round pick, and a greater honor to be the first overall pick. The last pick in the draft is known as Mr. Irrelevant, and is the subject of a dinner in his (dubious) honor in Newport Beach, California.

Drafted players may only negotiate with the team that drafted them (or to another team if their rights were traded away). The drafting team has one year to sign the player. If they do not do so, the player may reenter the draft and can be drafted by another team. Bo Jackson famously sat out a season in this way.

As defined by the Collective Barganing Agreement (CBA), a free agent is any player who is not under contract to any team and thus has fully free rights to negotiate with any other team for new contract terms. Free agents are classified into two categories: restricted and unrestricted. Furthermore, a team may "tag" a player as a franchise or transition, which places additional restrictions on that player's ability to negotiate. However, the ability to "tag" is quite limited, and only affects a handful of players each year.

Free agency in the NFL began with a limited free agency system known as "Plan B Free Agency", which was in effect between the 1989 and 1992 seasons. Beginning with the 1993 season, "Plan A Free Agency" went into effect, which is the system which remains in the NFL today.

A player who has 4 or more years of experience is eligible for unrestricted free agency, whereby his current team has no guaranteed right to match outside offers to that player. This means that players in this category have unlimited rights to negotiate any terms with any team.

In 2010, unless the CBA is extended, the rules will change so that players don't become "Unrestricted Free Agents" until they have at least 6 years of experience. They will be "Restricted Free Agents" if they have 3-5 years of experience. There will also be limitations imposed on which clubs are allowed to sign free agents. This is part of a set of rule changes written into the CBA designed to encourage the owners and the NFLPA to negotiate a new CBA: the players lose some free agency rights, and the owners lose the salary cap.

The franchise tag is a designation given to a player by a franchise that guarantees that player a contract the average of the five highest-paid players of that same position in the entire league, or 120% of the player's previous year's salary (whichever is greater) in return for retaining rights to that player for one year. An NFL franchise may only designate one player a year as having the franchise tag, and may designate the same player for consecutive years. This has caused some tension between some NFL franchise designees and their respective teams due to the fact that a player designated as a franchise player precludes that player from pursuing large signing bonuses that are common in unrestricted free agency, and also prevents a player from leaving the team, especially when the reasons for leaving are not necessarily financial. A team may, at their discretion, allow the franchise player to negotiate with other clubs, but if he signs with another club, the first club is entitled to two first round draft picks in compensation.

The NFL banned substances policy has been acclaimed by some and criticized by others, but the policy is the longest running in American professional sports, beginning in 1987. The current policy of the NFL suspends players without pay who test positive for banned substances as it has since 1989: four games for the first offense (a quarter of the regular season), eight games for a second offense (half of the regular season), and 12 months for a third offense. The suspended games may be either regular season games or playoff games.

In comparison to the policies of Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, the NFL has long been the most strict. While recently MLB and the NHL decided to permanently ban athletes for a third offense, they have long been resistant to such measures, and random testing is in its infancy.

Since the NFL started random, year-round tests and suspending players for banned substances, many more players have been found to be in violation of the policy. By April 2005, 111 NFL players had tested positive for banned substances, and of those 111, the NFL suspended 54.

A new rule is in the works due to Shawne Merriman. Starting the 2007–2008 season, the new rule would prohibit any player testing positive for banned substances from being able to play in the Pro Bowl that year.

There have been several football video games based on NFL teams created for various consoles over the years, from 10-Yard Fight and the Tecmo Bowl series for the NES to the more well known Madden series that have been released annually since 1988. The latter series is named after former coach and current football commentator John Madden, who commentates the game along with Al Michaels (Pat Summerall prior to 2003). Prior to the 2005–2006 football season, other NFL games were produced by competing video game publishers, such as 2K Games and Midway Games. However, in December 2004, Electronic Arts signed a five-year exclusive agreement with the NFL, meaning only Electronic Arts will be permitted to publish games featuring NFL team and player names. This prompted video game developer Midway Games to release a game in 2005 called Blitz: The League, with fictitious teams such as the "Washington Redhawks", and make references to NFL players such as the Washington Redhawks left-handed QB "Ron Mexico", alluding to Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons, who allegedly used the alias at a walk-in clinic. In February 2008, EA Sports renewed their exclusivity agreement with the league through Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.

Unlike many professional leagues, the NFL forbids corporate owners. Ownership groups must contain 24 or fewer individuals, and at least one partner must hold a 30 percent or greater share of the team. The exceptions to this policy were the Green Bay Packers, who have been owned by a non-profit corporation for more than eighty years, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose ownership was split up evenly among five brothers. The Packers' situation was grandfathered into the current policy and remains today; the Steelers only moved into compliance with the rules in 2008.

Prior to 2004, wide receivers were allowed to only wear numbers 80–89. The NFL changed the rule that year to allow wide receivers to wear numbers 10–19 to allow for the increased number of players at wide receiver and tight end coming into the league. Linebackers are allowed to wear numbers between 40–49 when all of 50–59 and 90–99 numbers are taken. Prior to that, players were only allowed to wear non-standard numbers if their team had run out of numbers within the prescribed number range. Keyshawn Johnson began wearing number 19 in 1996 because the New York Jets had run out of numbers in the 80s. Oakland Raider offensive center Jim Otto wore a 00 jersey during most of his career with the AFL team and kept the number after the leagues merged. Devin Hester is a wide receiver/return specalist for the Chicago Bears but wears number 23 because he was drafted as a cornerback but transferred to wide receiver after his rookie year.

Occasionally, players will petition the NFL to allow them to wear a number that is not in line with the numbering system. Brad Van Pelt, a linebacker who entered the NFL in 1973 with the New York Giants, wore number 10 during his 11 seasons with the club, despite not being covered by the grandfather clause. In 2006, New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush petitioned the NFL to let him keep the number 5 which he used at USC. His request was later denied. Former Seattle Seahawks standout Brian Bosworth attempted such a petition in 1987 (to wear his collegiate number of 44 at the linebacker position which he used at the University of Oklahoma), also without success. The Seahawks attempted to get around the rule by listing Bosworth as a safety, but after he wore number 44 for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL ruled Bosworth would have to switch back to his original number, 55.

It should be noted that this NFL numbering system is based on a player's primary position. Any player wearing any number may play at any position on the field at any time (though offensive and defensive players wearing numbers 50–79/90-99 and wishing to play at end or back must let the referee know that they are playing out of position by reporting in as an "eligible receiver"). Normally, only players on offense with eligible numbers are permitted to touch the ball by taking a snap from center, receiving a hand-off or catching a pass. It is not uncommon for running backs to line up at wide receiver on certain plays, or to even have a large offensive or defensive lineman play at fullback or tight end in short yardage situations. Also, in preseason games, when teams have expanded rosters, players may wear numbers that are outside of the above rules. When the final 53-player roster is established, they are reissued numbers within the above guidelines.

Each football team is supported by a professional cheerleading squad, who attend games and promote the team. To see more on NFL Cheerleading, see National Football League Cheerleading.

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Donovan McNabb

20090104 Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook.JPG

Donovan Jamal McNabb (born November 25, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He has been the Eagles franchise quarterback since 1999. McNabb played college football for Syracuse University. The Eagles selected him as the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft.

McNabb has led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC East division championships (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004), five NFC Championship Games (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2008), and one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXXIX, which the Eagles were defeated by the New England Patriots).

One of McNabb's most famous plays is 4th and 26, which took place against the Green Bay Packers in a 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

He is the Eagles' all-time leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.

McNabb grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Mount Carmel High School where he and his brother Michael Louis Francis Fox dominated the high school game. As a sophomore, he helped Mount Carmel win the 1991 State Championship. As a senior, he led the team to a Chicago Prep Bowl championship. McNabb also excelled in track and field during his high school years, and played on the school basketball teams with Antoine Walker.

Though McNabb was approached by recruiters from numerous colleges, only two schools—Syracuse University and the University of Nebraska—offered him scholarships to play as quarterback. He initially leaned toward attending Nebraska, as he relished the idea of being coached by Tom Osborne. Eventually, however, he decided to attend Syracuse, principally because he wanted to prove he was a competent "pocket passer", but also for academic reasons.

After redshirting in 1994, his first year at Syracuse, McNabb went on to start every game during his college career, compiling a 35–14 record. As a freshman, he completed the longest touchdown pass in Syracuse's history—a 96-yard throw against West Virginia University—in a game where he accounted for 354 total yards of offense; he was named the Big East Conference's rookie of the year at the end of the season. McNabb amassed 2,892 yards of total offense in his junior season to set a school record. As a senior, he led Syracuse to a berth in the Orange Bowl against Florida as he completed 157 of 251 passes (62.5%) for 2,134 yards; he also pushed the eventual champions, the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers, to the limit in a very close game. His 22 touchdown passes tied the school's single season record, set by former Eagle Don McPherson in 1987. McNabb also rushed 135 times for 438 yards and 8 touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the nation with a 158.9 passing efficiency rating and 22nd in total offense, with 233.8 yards per game. He tied a school record with 4 touchdown passes against Cincinnati, and scored 5 touchdowns against Miami (3 rushing and 2 passing).

McNabb was named the Big East's offensive player of the decade for the 1990s, and Big East Offensive Player of the Year an unprecedented three times from 1996-98, as well as the first-team all-conference vote earner in each of his four seasons. Later, he was named to the Syracuse All-Century Football team. He also spent two years as a reserve on the school's nationally ranked basketball team.

McNabb was drafted second overall by the Eagles, behind first pick Tim Couch, in the 1999 NFL Draft, a choice which was famously booed by Philadelphia fans present at the draft, most of whom were pushing for their team to draft University of Texas running back Ricky Williams. McNabb was the second of five quarterbacks selected in the first 12 picks of a quarterback-rich class that was at that point considered the best quarterback draft since the famous Class of 1983. However, only McNabb and Daunte Culpepper would go on to have successful careers in the NFL (Tim Couch struggled with the Cleveland Browns and officially retired in 2007 after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a failed comeback bid while Akili Smith and Cade McNown were out of the NFL by 2002.) and by 2006 only McNabb was still with the team that originally drafted him.

McNabb saw his first NFL regular season action in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 19-5 home loss on September 19. He made his first career start at home against Washington on November 14, completing 8 of 21 passes for 60 yards in a 35-28 win. He also had 9 carries for 49 rushing yards and led the team to a pair of successful two-point conversions (1 rush and 1 pass). He was the first Eagles rookie to start at quarterback since Brad Goebel, and the first Eagles rookie draft pick to start since John Reaves in 1972. With the win, McNabb became the first Eagles rookie QB to win his first NFL start since Mike Boryla (December 1, 1974 against Green Bay) and the first Eagle QB to win his first start since Ty Detmer (October 13, 1996 at NYG).

McNabb threw the first TD pass of his career (6 yards to tight end Chad Lewis) vs. Indianapolis in a 44-17 home loss on November 21, 1999. McNabb went on to start six of the Eagles' final seven contests (missing the December 19 home game against New England, a 24-9 victory, due to injury) as he became the first Philadelphia Eagles rookie to start in the quarterback position since Brad Goebel on October 13, 1991.

In his first full season as a NFL starter in 2000, McNabb finished second in the Associated Press MVP voting (24-11) to St. Louis RB Marshall Faulk, who set the NFL record for most TDs scored in a season. McNabb made his prime time debut on ESPN against Atlanta at home (October 1), with his first 300-yard passing game in a 38-10 victory and the Eagles' first since Bobby Hoying against Cincinnati at home on November 30, 1997. McNabb's 55 pass attempts at Pittsburgh in a come-from-behind 26-23 overtime victory (November 12) were a career high and the fourth-highest total in team history. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for 90.7% of the offense in a 23–20 victory at Washington (November 26). His 125 rushing yards were the most by an NFL Quarterback since the Bears Bobby Douglass (127 on December 17, 1972) and was the sixth-best rushing effort by a QB since 1940 when the T formation was introduced. Threw for a career-high 390 passing yards and 4 TDs in a 35-24 victory at Cleveland (December 10) en route to NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. McNabb led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance since 1996, where they defeated the favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21–3 before losing to the New York Giants 20–10.

He was selected as a first alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad in 2000 (behind the Minnesota Vikings Daunte Culpepper, San Francisco 49ers Jeff Garcia, and St. Louis Rams Kurt Warner). When Warner was unable to participate due to injury, McNabb led the NFC on a touchdown scoring drive in his first series. Accounted for 74.6% of the team's total net yards in 2000. Only Carolina's Steve Beuerlein (75.3%) and San Francisco's Jeff Garcia (75.1%) had a higher percentage. His 629 rushing yards in 2000 were tops among NFL QBs and, at the time, the fourth-highest total ever (968 by Bobby Douglass in 1972; 942 by Randall Cunningham in 1990; and 674 by Steve McNair in 1997. Michael Vick has since eclipsed that total three times). His six rushing TDs in 2000 were the most by an Eagles QB since Randall Cunningham also had six in 1988. Broke the club's single season record for most attempts (569) and completions (330) in 2000, marks previously set by Cunningham (560 and 301 respectively) in 1988. Named 2000 NFL Player of the Year by CBS Radio and the Terry (Bradshaw) Awards on Fox Sports and was named to the All-Madden team.

McNabb led the Eagles in fourth-quarter comebacks in two wins vs. the Giants in 2001. At the Meadowlands (October 22), his 18-yard pass to James Thrash with 1:52 remaining gave the Eagles a 10-9 victory. At Philadelphia (December 30), wiped out a 21-14 deficit, engineering two fourth-quarter scores as the Eagles clinched the NFC East title with a 24-21 over archrival New York Giants. Tied Ron Jaworski and Tommy Thompson for the most postseason wins in franchise history by a QB (3). His 8-career playoff TDs trails only Jaworski (9). Named NFL Offensive Player of the Week after the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Chicago (January 19, 2002). Completed 26 of 40 for 262 yards with 2 touchdowns passing and added 37 yards and a TD on the ground. That rushing TD was the final touchdown at the old Soldier Field. Became only the fourth QB in Eagles history to pass for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons - Sonny Jurgensen (1961-62), Ron Jaworski (1980-81), and Randall Cunningham (1988–90) were the others. McNabb's Eagles advanced to the NFC championship game for the first time since 1980, losing to the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.

He earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl (was originally elected as an alternate) following the 2001 season after combining for 3,715 yards of total offense and establishing career highs in TD passes (25) and QB rating (84.3). Including playoffs, threw TD passes in 15 of 18 games and 2-or-more in 12 of those games. Named by his teammates as the club's offensive MVP in 2000 and 2001. During the off-season, McNabb signed a new contract with the Eagles worth $115 million over 12 years, with a $20.5 million signing bonus.

In week 11 of the 2002 season, McNabb suffered a broken ankle. On the third play of the game against the Arizona Cardinals, he was sacked by the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson and LeVar Woods. He fumbled the ball, fell to the ground, and held his right leg. He went to the locker room to have his ankle taped, but returned for the Eagles' second drive. His injury was reported to be a sprained ankle, but X-rays after the game revealed that it was a broken ankle. During the game, however, McNabb made an impressive show of toughness. In one of the best passing games of his career, he was 20 of 25 passing, with 255 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also threw an interception. McNabb was out for the last six weeks of the regular season, and returned to face the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs, but he recovered slowly. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 20–6, but were beaten by the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27–10 in the NFC championship game.

In late September 2003, McNabb was the subject of very controversial comments made by Rush Limbaugh, who worked as a commentator for ESPN at the time, stating that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. The comments came after the Eagles began the season 0–2, losing to defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and eventual champion New England, both losses coming in their newly opened stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. There has been much discussion about the merit of these comments, which resulted in Limbaugh's resignation from ESPN.

Despite the slow start in the 2003 season, McNabb again led his team to the NFC Championship game - yet his detractors pointed out that in his five years in the NFL, McNabb had yet to complete 60 percent of his passes or average seven yards per attempt over the course of an entire season, two statistical thresholds widely accepted as benchmarks for what constitutes a successful season for a modern-day NFL quarterback. Although the slow start hindered his overall statistics for 2003, Mcnabb had the highest quarterback rating(97.5)in the NFL for the second half of the season and also completed over 62% of his passes for over eight yards per attempt. With Philadelphia's 14–3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the 2003 NFC championship game, McNabb became the first NFL quarterback since Danny White of the Dallas Cowboys (1980-1982) to lead a team to three consecutive defeats in conference title games, prompting some observers to conclude that McNabb "chokes" in big games (his cumulative passer rating in the three conference championship games was 50.5 - a figure that is approximately 10 points lower than what the worst quarterback in the league earns over the course of a typical year). McNabb was knocked out of the NFC title game after being hit on the ground by Panthers' linebacker Will Witherspoon after he had been tripped up on a broken play.

McNabb's defenders, however, point out that Philadelphia had the worst contingent of wide receivers in the NFL throughout McNabb's tenure with the team up to that point, and perhaps in modern professional football history. In 2003, for example, Philadelphia's wide receivers caught only five touchdown passes - tying the record for fewest in a season since the regular-season schedule was lengthened to its present 16 games in 1978 and that, by going the entire months of September and October without having a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass, the 2003 Eagles became the first NFL team since 1945 not to have gotten a touchdown pass from any of its wide receivers in the first two months of a season.

McNabb finally amassed the kind of numbers that placed him firmly as one of the elite NFL quarterbacks statistically. He averaged 8.26 yards per attempt, completed 64.0 percent of his passes, threw 31 touchdown passes (he also ran for three more), and only eight interceptions. These numbers translated to a Passer Rating of 104.7. Furthermore, he became the first quarterback in league history to throw over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions in a single season. This dramatic improvement coincided with a massive upgrading of the Eagles' receiving corps, namely the arrival of Terrell Owens, who caught 14 touchdowns. As a result, the Eagles won their first seven games of the season for the first time in franchise history, clinched first place in their division with five weeks still to play in the regular season (becoming only the third team in modern NFL history to do this) and won the NFC's Eastern Division by a record-tying seven-game margin in posting a 13-3 record, the franchise's best 16-game season ever. In the playoffs, McNabb led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in almost a quarter century, with victories over the Minnesota Vikings 27-14 in the divisional game that set up Philadelphia's fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game. But this year they managed to win it over the Atlanta Falcons 27-10. Owens was not in the lineup during the two-playoff victories, and was recovering from a broken ankle. McNabb became only the third African-American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl after Doug Williams in the 1987 season and Steve McNair in 1999.

McNabb led his team against a newly forming dynasty, the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl XXXIX. McNabb struggled at points, throwing three crucial interceptions. Two of these were thrown in New England territory, and one of those two was a rare mistake for McNabb in the red zone. The final interception was last-gasp "hail mary" at the end of the game. He was also sacked four times. Controversy surrounds the end of the game, as McNabb was reportedly dehydrated and vomited in the huddle, as stated by former 1st Round pick and Philadelphia Eagle teammate Freddie Mitchell, leading to the inability to call a play and poor clock management by the Philadelphia Eagles on their final drive. However, in an interview with NBC, McNabb said he was not sick and did not throw up. He just said he was tired. Some reports claim that McNabb had the wind knocked out of him by an earlier hit while others assert that he was unduly fatigued (interestingly, McNabb also suffered from a bout of nausea at the conclusion of a 2002 regular-season game played at Alltel Stadium, where Super Bowl XXXIX was contested). Both Coach Andy Reid and McNabb have denied any physical problems that led to the puzzlingly slow pace of play, but they did not address mental problems. McNabb finished the game with 30 completions for 357 yards, the third highest total for both categories in Super Bowl history, and 3 touchdowns. The Eagles lost 24–21.

McNabb's 2005 season began with turmoil and ended on injured reserve. Terrell Owens had called out McNabb repeatedly since the Super Bowl XXXIX loss and refused to speak with McNabb. Despite not speaking with his main target and all the distractions that came with the Owens controversy, McNabb managed to be named the NFC's Player of the Month for September. Perhaps one of the finer months of his career, McNabb threw for 964 yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions in three games, leading the Eagles to a 2-1 record. McNabb carried that momentum into October as he went 33 for 48 (68.8 completion %), threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns en route to leading the Eagles to a memorable come-from-behind victory at an unfriendly Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. McNabb could not keep the momentum rolling however as the Eagles lost four straight games. Over that span, McNabb only posted a quarterback rating higher than 72 once Sunday, November 6 at the Washington Redskins. After playing with a sports hernia and sore thumb, McNabb decided to end his season early after a disastrous effort at home on November 14 on Monday night against the rival Dallas Cowboys. Though low for his standards McNabb put up respectable numbers in 2005. In nine games, he threw for 2,507 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. To go along with that, he completed 59.1% (211-357) of his passes. Prior to his season ending early, McNabb was on pace to throw for 4,457 yards, which would have easily eclipsed his career high of 3,875, set in 2004.

McNabb and the Eagles began the 2006 season at 5-4 heading into a week 11 game with Tennessee Titans on Sunday November 19. At that point, McNabb had been having an up and down season. His weekly passing ratings ranged from a lofty 113 all the way down to 65. Overall, the team was struggling. During the game, McNabb tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee while jumping out of bounds, ending his season, the third time in five years McNabb had gone down with six or more games remaining in the regular season. Eagles officials stated that his rehabilitation would likely last eight to twelve months, which completely ended his 2006 season and even raised questions as to whether he would be ready to begin playing by the beginning of the 2007 season. In the meantime, backup quarterback Jeff Garcia took McNabb's place as the Eagles' quarterback. Since McNabb became starting quarterback in 1999, the Eagles are 8-7 without him. A dominant defense in 2002 helped A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer go a combined 5-1 to finish the season after McNabb broke his ankle against the Arizona Cardinals. Detmer lost a meaningless game during the Eagles Super Bowl season in 2004. In 2005, Mike McMahon went 2-5 when McNabb's season was lost to a sports hernia in Week 10 against the Cowboys. In 2006, Jeff Garcia had success, leading the Eagles from 5-5 after the Tennessee game to 10-6 and winners of the NFC East. The Eagles then went on to win their Home Playoff game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs against the New York Giants 23-20 with Jeff Garcia under center. However, in the following divisional round they were beaten by the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome 27-24.

Having played nearly up to full speed in the preseason games, it was decided that McNabb would return to the field several months short of the full yearlong recovery expected of an ACL injury. In the season opener at Green Bay, the Eagles and McNabb suffered a 16-13 loss. McNabb had his share of problems, completing less than half of his passes for 184 yards and one touchdown. The Eagles lost their first home game of the season to the rival Washington Redskins, 20-12, though his numbers improved. As week three approached, skeptics had already wondered whether McNabb still had his skill that propelled him to success in the past. The Eagles defeated the Detroit Lions in a 56-21 win. McNabb completed 21 out of his 26 attempted passes for 381 yards. Four of those passes went for touchdowns (3 of them went to Kevin Curtis). His brilliant performance against the Lions was highlighted by his first perfect (158.3) Quarterback Rating. However, week 4 did not prove to be as good as the Eagles thought it would be. The Eagles endured yet another loss, this time to the New York Giants. The Giants' defense, led by defensive end Osi Umenyiora, sacked McNabb a record-tying 12 times. McNabb completed 15 out of 31 attempted passes for 138 yards and no touchdowns. In week 6 game against the Jets, McNabb completed 22 out of 36 attempted passes for 278 yards total. McNabb also had a touchdown pass to Curtis, plus one interception. With the help of placekicker David Akers, the Eagles went on to win, 16–9. McNabb had stated before the Dallas Cowboys game that the NFC East title went through Philadelphia, so Dallas responded with a 38-17 win on primetime Sunday Night Football. Against the Redskins, McNabb completed a high percentage of passes and ended with a QB rating of 138.5 in a tough win. In the week 11 game against the Miami Dolphins, McNabb sprained his ankle and injured his right (throwing side) thumb. As a result McNabb had been ruled out for the game against the New England Patriots, replaced by AJ Feeley, who although gave a valiant effort through two games, came up short. Feeley threw 7 interceptions in 2 games (4 coming in the opening and closing drives of both games). During a win against the Cowboys, news reporter Pam Oliver reported during the game that McNabb indicated that he didn't expect to be back in Philadelphia for the 2008 season. McNabb later indicated that this was not true, and stated although he believed rookie Kevin Kolb's time would come, he would be an Eagle next season.

McNabb caused another mild stir in camp when he suggested that the Eagles shouldn't have lost a game to any of their NFC East opponents last season. He felt that they were just a few plays away from being a playoff team. He even went on to say, "I still put us at the top of the NFC." In week 1 of the 2008 NFL season Mcnabb threw for 361 yards (the most of any quarterback that week) and 3 touchdowns which included a 90 yard toss to Hank Baskett at the end of the second quarter. This performance led to him receiving the FedEx Air Player of the Week award. In week 3 against the Steelers, McNabb threw his 176th career touchdown passing Ron Jaworski and becoming the Eagles all time TD leader.

Donovan McNabb set a career-high with 58 passing attempts (completing 28), and tied a career-high with three interceptions in the NFL's first tie game in six years, Philadelphia vs. Cincinnati.

During the 2008 season, McNabb admitted that he was not aware that an NFL game could end in a tie after a 13-13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

After the tie, McNabb struggled in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, going 8/18 for 54 yards with 2 interceptions, a fumble and was sacked twice. In the second half, Andy Reid decided to go with Kevin Kolb, the two year pro out of the University of Houston. This was McNabb's first time being benched for something other than injury or a meaningless game. In the game Kolb threw an interception that was returned 108 yards for a touchdown by safety Ed Reed, breaking the record he previously held for longest interception returned for a touchdown.

However, in the next game, McNabb was able to come back, throwing 27/39 for 260 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 48-20.

On December 7, McNabb was 19-for-30 with 191 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 20 yards in a 20-14 win over the New York Giants.

Despite his up-and-down season, McNabb helped the Eagles reach the playoffs for the seventh time in his nine seasons as a starter. He also set a career-high with 3,916 yards passing and led the Eagles to a franchise-record 416 points. The Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys 44-6 in the final week of the season to clinch the final playoff berth.

In the wild-card round, McNabb threw for 300 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown to Brian Westbrook, to lead Philadelphia to a 26-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

On January 11, 2009 McNabb led the Eagles past the Giants in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The Eagles won 23-11 (it was the first ever NFL game to finish with the score of 23-11) and advanced to the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals. In the game, McNabb was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when, after being tackled into the Giants' sideline after a lengthy run, he picked up the Giants' coaching phone in jest.

On January 18, McNabb and his Eagles were defeated by the Arizona Cardinals 32 - 25 in the NFC Conference Championship, ending their season. McNabb threw for 375 yards on 47 attempts, with three touchdowns, and one interception off a deflected pass, most of this in the second half after his Eagles only managed 6 points to the Cardinals 24 in the first half. McNabb also ran for 31 yards on two carries. Despite his excellent second half performance, McNabb was criticized by the television broadcast commentators and other media sources for accuracy problems during downs and series of consequence.

McNabb has a winning record in postseason games at 50-2.

McNabb holds the record for most consecutive pass attempts completed with 24 over two games in 2004 against the New York Giants (his final 10 passes on November 28, 2004) and Green Bay Packers (his first 14 passes on December 5, 2004). Mark Brunell and David Carr hold the record for most consecutive completed passes in a single game with 22. McNabb also completed 25 consecutive passes against the San Diego Chargers on October 23, 2005, but this record is not counted by the NFL as it included a spiking of the ball to stop the clock at the end of the half. The 2005 game was also noteworthy for Coach Reid calling for McNabb to have 25 pass attempts in a row, without interruption by a running play.

After finishing the 2008 season with career totals of 4303 pass attempts and only ninety interceptions, McNabb is the least intercepted quarterback per pass attempt in NFL history. McNabb passed Neil O'Donnell formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. McNabb's career ratio is one interception in every 47.8 pass attempts (2.09%), while O'Donnell was intercepted once every 47.49 pass attempts (2.11%).

McNabb and his college sweetheart, Raquel-Ann Sarah "Roxie" Nurse, were married in June of 2003. They have three children: daughter Alexis, who was born in September 2004, and twins (a boy and a girl) who were born in December 2008. The family splits its time between homes in Moorestown, New Jersey, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, and Chandler, Arizona.

In 2002, McNabb, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in speech communication from Syracuse University, was named to that institution's Board of Trustees; he is one of the youngest trustees to have served there. It is stated on his website that he plans to use his speech communication degree when his playing days are over to become a broadcaster.

McNabb's parents, Sam and Wilma McNabb, have gained fame appearing as themselves in the Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial series. The actress Marcella Lowery has played McNabb's mother on occasion. Wilma is also a vice president of the NFL Mother's Association, the executive director of the Donovan McNabb Foundation, and runs McNabb Unlimited, which oversees Donovan's endorsements.

In 2006, he released a clothing line, which he designed, called Super Five.

He also played basketball at Syracuse University as a reserve guard. In the 1996 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament national championship game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats, McNabb played against his former high school teammate Antoine Walker.

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LaDainian Tomlinson

Tomlinson warming up.jpg

LaDainian Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is an American football running back for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. Tomlinson was drafted in the first round (5th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft in which he was part of an infamous trade which sent him to the Chargers and the 1st overall pick, Michael Vick to the Atlanta Falcons. He played college football at Texas Christian University. Tomlinson set several records during the 2006 NFL season by scoring a league-leading 186 points. He received additional honors by winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award and the Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year Award.

LaDainian Tomlinson was born to Loreane Chappelle and Oliver Tomlinson in Rosebud, Texas. His early life was full of adversity; his brother and grandfather both died when he was a child, forcing him to support the remaining members of the family by himself.

Tomlinson attended University High School in Waco, Texas, where he played basketball, baseball, and football. Tomlinson began his football career as a linebacker, but blossomed on the offensive side of the ball. Tomlinson amassed 2,554 yards (2,335 m) and 39 touchdowns his senior year, earning honors as the District 25-4A Most Valuable Player, Super Centex Offensive Player of the Year.

Tomlinson was an avid Dallas Cowboys and Miami Hurricanes fan during his youth. He especially idolized Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Emmitt Smith. He trained with Smith during a summer camp. In a later interview with ESPN, Tomlinson stated that his playing style and mentality were influenced by the three running backs.

Tomlinson was recruited by many schools, but he was not considered one of the nation's top backs coming out of high school. Many felt this was because Tomlinson did not play running back until his senior year in high school and many top colleges had already made their recruiting choices by then. Thus, Tomlinson signed with Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, a small school then in the Western Athletic Conference. Prior to Tomlinson's arrival, TCU had appeared in only one bowl game in the previous 12 seasons (and 2 in the previous 34), and had recently been "downgraded" to a minor conference (the Western Athletic Conference) after the breakup of the long-standing Southwest Conference. TCU is now part of the Mountain West Conference.

During Tomlinson's freshman and sophomore years, he split time with Basil Mitchell. In the 1998 season he helped the Horned Frogs win its first bowl win in 41 years against the University of Southern California in the Sun Bowl. During his junior season in 1999, he set an NCAA record for yards in one game with 406 against UTEP. He ended the year with an NCAA-leading 1,850 yards (1,690 m) rushing to go along with 18 touchdowns.

In his senior season in 2000, Tomlinson led the NCAA for the second time with 2,158 yards (1,973 m) and 22 touchdowns while piling on 354 yards (324 m) receiving. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, and was a finalist for the Heisman, but came in fourth. He completed his college career with 5,263 rushing yards, ranking sixth in NCAA Division I history.

The school retired his jersey number (5) during halftime of a November 2005 game against UNLV. In December of that year, Tomlinson fulfilled a promise to his mother by earning his degree in communications from TCU.

The San Diego Chargers selected Tomlinson in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, as the fifth overall pick. The Chargers possessed the draft’s first selection, but traded the pick to the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted Michael Vick. In this way, many consider that Vick and Tomlinson were “traded” for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks.

In exchange for San Diego's #1 pick, with which Atlanta selected Vick, the Chargers received Atlanta's #5 pick (used to draft Tomlinson), Atlanta's third-round (67th overall) pick, which San Diego used to select Tay Cody, and Atlanta's second-round pick in 2002, which San Diego would use to select Reche Caldwell. San Diego also received Atlanta's wide receiver Tim Dwight. The Chargers' general manager, John Butler, made the deal contingent on San Diego receiving Dwight, to which Atlanta agreed.

Tomlinson immediately became the starting running back with the Chargers and has started all but one game since. The one game he did not start was due to a choice by the coach to sit Tomlinson out during the last regular season game before the playoffs - not due to any kind of injury. He achieved immediate success in the NFL, rushing for over 1,200 yards and making over 50 receptions in each of his seven seasons. He has also proven to be effective as a passer, having completed eight career passes, seven of them for touchdowns and a career passer rating of 154.4.

In 2003, he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and record 100 receptions in the same season. He also reached his 50th career touchdown in his 4th season (60th game) and was elected to the Pro Bowl team in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. Tomlinson also tied Lenny Moore's all-time record for consecutive games scoring a TD (18).

On October 16, 2005, in the Chargers' victory over the Oakland Raiders, LaDainian Tomlinson became the 7th player in NFL history to run, catch, and throw for a touchdown in the same game. Despite breaking his ribs towards the end of the 2005 season, LaDainian continued to play and finished the season with 1,462 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards, and a career high 20 touchdowns (18 rushing, 2 receiving). In 2005 he was nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award. Tomlinson placed third behind Tiki Barber and Shaun Alexander.

In the 2006 season, he set an NFL record by scoring 19 touchdowns in a span of 6 games, including a franchise record 4 touchdowns in games against the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos. He is the first to score three TDs in three straight games, and the first to have three games of four or more TDs in one season. He became the fastest player ever to score 100 touchdowns. On November 19, 2006, Tomlinson accomplished the milestone in 89 games with 102, beating the previous record of 93 games held by Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith. On Dec. 3, 2006, Tomlinson became the first running back to rush for at least 1,236 yards in his first six NFL seasons (he has now done so in his first seven years as well). On December 7, he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month.

He scored his 29th touchdown against the Denver Broncos in just 13 games (Alexander set the record in 16). His 2 touchdown passes do not count toward this record because the NFL treats them in a separate category. With the first touchdown against Kansas City on December 17, he surpassed the most points in a season by an NFL player; one which had stood for 46 years. Tomlinson would finish his record breaking season with 2,323 yards from scrimmage (combined rushing and receiving) and 31 touchdowns (28 rushing, 3 receiving).

On January 4, 2007, Tomlinson was awarded with the NFL AP Most Valuable Player Award for his record-breaking season. He was the runaway winner, receiving 44 of the 50 votes from a panel of nationwide sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL. Former teammate Drew Brees, now with New Orleans, received four votes and Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning received two votes. Tomlinson was also one of 9 Chargers players selected for the 2007 Pro Bowl and also a starting running back of the American Football Conference. He was also named AP Offensive Player of the Year and later named NBC Player of the Year. He was later named co-holder of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award alongside his aforementioned former teammate Drew Brees. On July 11, 2007, Tomlinson won the ESPY Awards for Male Athlete of the Year, Best Record-Breaking Performance and Best NFL Athlete, as well as the Hummer Like Nothing Else Award.

Tomlinson went on to rush for 123 yards, catch 2 passes for 64 yards, and score 2 touchdowns in the Chargers divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots on January 14, 2007. After the game, he was upset at the Patriots and their head coach Bill Belichick for performing a victory dance that mocked fellow Charger Shawne Merriman on the center-field logo at Qualcomm Stadium.

On December 2, 2007 Tomlinson passed Walter Payton on the all time rushing touchdown list, with his 111th career rushing TD, against the Kansas City Chiefs. A few days later, Tomlinson honored Payton by wearing his jersey during a press conference. Tomlinson led the league in rushing with a total of 1,474 rushing yards in 2007, becoming the first player since Edgerrin James in 2000, to win back-to-back rushing titles.

Tomlinson ran for just 42 yards on 21 carries and caught 3 passes for 19 yards, but did score a touchdown in the Chargers wild-card playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans on January 6, 2008. He scored his touchdown on fourth and goal, leaping over the pile and reaching across the goal line to help secure the fourth quarter lead for the Chargers. Tomlinson bruised his left knee and missed the 2nd half of the Chargers divisional playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts on January 13, 2008. Tomlinson just had two carries and 5 yards in the AFC title game, before sitting out the rest of the game, as the Chargers would lose to the New England Patriots on January 20, 2008.

Tomlinson did not participate in the Chargers' offseason program in 2008 because of the injury. Much like the previous year, Tomlinson got off to a slow start, not having a 100-yard rushing performance until week 4 against the Oakland Raiders while having averaged just 3.3 yards per carry the first 3 weeks. Tomlinson averaged just 17 carries per game up to midseason and had only had four rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown. Though Tomlinson managed only two 100-yard rushing performances on the season, he managed to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the 8th consecutive time in his career which placed him third all-time alongside Thurman Thomas for consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons behind Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. He ended the seasons with a career-low 1,110 rushing yards on a career-low 292 attempts and 11 touchdowns thanks to a three-touchdown performance in the final game of the 2008 season. He also moved up the all-time list of touchdowns, getting his 126th rushing touchdown, which passed Marcus Allen's 123 and his 141st touchdown moved him closer to Marcus Allen's 145 total touchdowns in a career which is tied for third all-time with wide receiver Terrell Owens, behind Emmitt Smith (175) and Jerry Rice (208). Tomlinson partially tore his groin in the finale against Denver. He played the first half in the wild-card round against the Colts before re-injuring the groin and missing the Charger's divisional loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After a contentious off-season negotiation, Tomlinson and the Chargers came to an agreement on March 10, 2009 to restructure his three-year contract so that he may remain a Charger.

LaDainian was introduced to his future wife, LaTorsha Oakley, while the two were students at TCU. They married on March 21st, 2003. The couple currently reside with their three dogs in a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) house in Poway, a suburb of San Diego.

On February 23, 2007 in Waco, Texas, LaDainian's father, Oliver Tomlinson, and brother-in-law Ronald McClain, died in an auto accident from a blown tire, causing a one-vehicle rollover. McClain, 48, was taken by ambulance to Waco's Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, where he died. Charlie Morgan of the Texas Department of Public Safety reported that both men were thrown from the pickup truck. Oliver, 71, was killed instantly, while McClain reached the hospital but subsequently died. LaDainian said he was devastated by these events but that the words and lessons given to him by his father will always live in him.

Tomlinson has been featured in several commercials for Nike, Campbell Soup and Vizio.

In April 2007, Tomlinson turned down a request to become the cover athlete and official spokesperson for EA Sports' Madden NFL 08 video game. Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young was eventually selected for the cover.

In June 2007, Tomlinson signed with FOXSports.com to promote FOX Sports Fantasy Football.

Tomlinson was named the 2007 Most Unstoppable Jock on Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards on June 13, 2007, beating out finalist Kobe Bryant. According to Spike, over 25,000 individuals voted on this award. Tomlinson appeared via teleconference to accept the award.

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Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation

The Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation began in April 2007 with a search of property in Surry County, Virginia, owned by Atlanta Falcons football quarterback Michael Vick, and the subsequent discovery of evidence of a dog fighting ring. Over seventy dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, with some said to be showing signs of injuries, were seized, along with physical evidence during several searches of Vick's 15-acre property by local, state and federal authorities.

The case drew widespread publicity to the issues of animal abuse and dog fighting. It also drew attention to unlawful gambling and drug activities which authorities claim often accompany dog fighting. Subsequently, Vick and three other principals were convicted of federal felony conspiracy charges and imprisoned. Vick was suspended by the NFL, was ordered to pay the Atlanta Falcons back a portion of his earnings, and lost endorsement deals worth millions more. With other creditors also attempting to collect millions of dollars in debts, in July 2008, he filed for Chapter 11 (reorganization) bankruptcy protection.

The Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation began in April 2007 with a search of property in Surry County, Virginia, owned by Atlanta Falcons’ football quarterback Michael Vick, and the subsequent discovery of evidence of a dog fighting ring at 1915 Moonlight Road, Smithfield, Virginia 23430. Over seventy dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, with some said to be showing signs of injuries, were seized along with physical evidence during several searches of Vick's 15-acre property by local, state and federal authorities.

In July 2007, Vick and three other men were indicted on federal felony and misdemeanor charges relating to a six-year long continuing criminal enterprise of an interstate dog fighting ring known as “Bad Newz Kennels,” apparently based upon a local nickname for Newport News, Vick's hometown. Allegations included Vick's direct involvement in dog fighting, high-stakes gambling, and brutal executions of dogs. Public outcry resulted from widespread news media publicity of the details which included hanging, drowning, electrocuting and shooting dogs. There were public demonstrations by both Vick supporters and animal rights activists. In the wake, many companies who had been paying for his endorsements withdrew Vick products from retail marketing if then he got convicted.

By August 20, all the defendants on the initial federal charges including Vick had agreed to guilty pleas under plea bargain agreements, apparently avoiding facing the possibility of additional and more serious charges under the powerful Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson, who is not bound by sentencing recommendations in plea agreements, had previously advised two of the defendants that the aggravated circumstances involving executing the dogs warranted an upward revision of the sentencing guidelines. The single felony charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.

At the time of the November 30 hearings for Peace and Phillips, Vick was being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia where he had turned himself in early while awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions on December 10, 2007. Vick received a harsher sentence than Peace and Phillips after Hudson concluded that the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback lied about his direct involvement in killing dogs and about his marijuana use, which was detected in a drug test, as well as his greater role in the criminal enterprise and lesser cooperation during the earlier investigation. Taylor, who is alleged to have had a greater role in the conspiracy than Peace and Phillips is also due to be sentenced on December 10, but, like Peace and Phillips, had agreed to testify against Vick at trial before he also accepted a plea agreement.

In addition to federal actions, a parallel local investigation had also been underway since April 2007. Surry County prosecutor Gerald L. Poindexter later described the information contained in the federal plea agreements as "a road map to indictments in Surry County." Plea bargains with federal prosecutors would have no official standing in the local cases against any of the four federal co-defendants. (Double jeopardy concepts would not apply to state and federal overlapping cases). In September, 2007, all four men convicted in the federal case were also indicted by the Surry County Grand Jury on state felony charges relating to dog fighting under state laws after indictments were returned by a local grand jury in Surry County, Virginia. Vick faces two felony counts under state laws and his trial in Surry County Circuit Court has been set for April 2, 2008. The maximum penalty if then convicted on the state charges would be 10 years in a state penitentiary.

Unlike the other men, Vick was a millionaire and celebrity. He is currently under suspension from play under his Atlanta Falcons Team contract, signed for a record $130 million in 2004, making him the highest paid NFL player at the time, with additional income from many product endorsement arrangements. In addition to the criminal matters, all of his product endorsement relationships have been terminated. The Falcons have sought to reclaim bonus money paid Vick, and on October 10, 2007, an arbitrator ruled that the team is entitled to recoup $19.9 million from him. Subsequent to his federal convictions, and suspension from work with the Falcons, three banks filed multi-million dollar law suits in several U.S. District courts to recover loans for investment purposes which each of the banks claimed to be in default of their terms.

According to a story published in the Virginian-Pilot on June 2, 2007 there is evidence that Vick does support others in his family. The newspaper reported he owns various properties in the area, including a home in a posh Suffolk, Virginia subdivision on the James River and Nansemond River where his mother lives. He's also building a home in another upscale neighborhood on the Nansemond River on land valued at $473,800.

In the following several months, various media sources revealed that Vick has close ties and business relationships with three other men who are apparently not his relatives, but were involved with the Surry County property and/or his activities with pit bulls prior to April 25. Tony Taylor, Quanis L. Phillips, and Charles W. Reamon, Jr. Both Taylor and Phillips have had drug-related brushes with the law; Reamon has had multiple firearms incidents.

ESPN reported that, very shortly after the initial raid in late April, Vick "threw Taylor off the Surry property" and listed it with real estate agents for sale. The 15-acre property includes a large brick house painted white, a small swimming pool, and a basketball court. Four outbuildings painted black are located in the woods. It was reported by the local news media as under a sales contract for approximately 50% of its assessed value with a day or so of listing. However, according to published reports, as of July 6 no transfer papers had been filed with the county clerk where deeds are recorded.

During the subsequent weeks, Surry County Sheriff Harold D. Brown and Commonwealth's Attorney (local prosecutor) Gerald G. Poindexter, repeatedly responded to media inquiries with assurances that they were proceeding carefully with the investigation and any prosecutions and that any one "whoever they are" who evidence indicates had acted unlawfully will be charged. According to the Code of Virginia (3.1-796.124), illegal activities relating to dog fighting (or supporting it) are felony offenses under Virginia laws. Other Virginia criminal statutes also prohibit gambling, which has also been alleged against Vick by an ESPN source who claimed to have seen Vick bet as much as $40,000 on the outcome of a single dog fight. On May 31, when asked by a news reporter for WAVY-TV whether there was evidence that placed Vick at dog fights, Poindexter replied "Yes".

Following weeks of increasing reports in the news media of Vick’s involvement and new evidence and witnesses reportedly coming forward to authorities, according to USA Today, on June 7, federal authorities, assisted by the Virginia State Police, revealed their own investigation, and began an additional search of the property. Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Poindexter told USA Today that an official of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General notifying him by telephone about 3 PM EDT on June 7 also advised him that the local authorities were free to continue their own ongoing investigation. News media reports on WAVY-TV at 11 PM that evening placed Poindexter at the Vick home and property, apparently observing the search. Federal authorities, assisted by Virginia State Police, conducted an additional search on July 6, as reported by multiple news media sources. Federal and state police officials had not issued any public statements as of that time.

A story in the New York Daily News published on June 10 stated "dog fighting is a multi-million-dollar industry that is part of an underground subculture that holds its events in secret locations. It is extremely difficult for authorities to prove who has dogs for fighting purposes." Regarding dog fighting, which is unlawful in the United States, according to an attorney for the Humane Society, if convicted under the Virginia laws, Vick could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $2,500 on each count. In June, a circuit court judge in Richmond, Virginia imposed a four-year prison sentence and $20,000 in fines on a convicted dog fighter in an unrelated case. The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, a new federal law, was enacted by the U.S. Congress earlier in 2007 and signed by President George W. Bush on May 3, making organizing a dog fight a felony. Using the provisions of the new law, which took effect immediately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is pursuing similar cases elsewhere with considerable support from humane societies and local police departments. The law provides a penalty of up to three years of jail time and up to a $250,000 fine for each offense of interstate or foreign transport of animals for fighting purposes.

In March 2007, a combined federal, state and local law enforcement team disrupted a large dog fighting network in Dayton, Ohio which was operating in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan. That investigation had lasted a year. More than two dozen arrests were made and more than 60 dogs were seized. In May, 7 persons in Ohio submitted guilty pleas to state charges. Sentencing was pending at the time of a USDA news release in June 2007.

Documents filed in federal court in Richmond on July 2 and obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act outline an extensive multi-state dog fighting enterprise named "Bad Newz Kennels" which was allegedly operating from the Vick property since at least 2002. For the events, participants and dogs traveled from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas and other states. At least three people are expected to be indicted. On July 7, the Free-Lance Star newspaper based in Fredericksburg, Virginia noted that on Vick's website, he lists his birthplace as Newport News, "a.k.a. BadNews." The same day, The Atlanta Constitution noted that the Urban Dictionary lists "Bad Newz" as the street name for Newport News. WAVY-TV (Portsmouth, VA) posted a copy of one of the federal court document from July 2, and has made it available online at WAVY-TV online copy of July 2 document obtained under Freedom of Information request about the "Bad Newz Kennels" interstate dog fighting investigation.

On July 17, a federal grand jury indicted Vick and 3 others on multiple counts, stating that Vick and three other men spent six years "knowingly sponsoring and exhibiting in an animal fighting venture." Almost immediately, speculation began regarding Vick's future in the NFL.

The grand jury also charged the men with establishing a kennel to represent dogfighting competitions, purchase and train pitbulls in dogfighting competitions and "destroying or otherwise disposing of dogs not selected to stay with the ongoing animal fighting venture." The case was assigned to Henry E. Hudson in the U.S. District Court in Richmond.

According to an ESPN attorney, a new "tough" federal law passed by the U.S. Congress in April 2007 and signed by President George W. Bush on May 3, 2007 is being used in many ongoing investigations of dog fighting around the country. However, Vick and his codefendants were charged under the older laws, which carry lower penalties. Vick and his codefendants each face $350,000 in fines and six years in prison if convicted of the federal charges. (On the Travel Act portion of the conspiracy charges, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The dogfighting charges carry a possible sentence of one year in prison a $100,000 fine, or both).

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the other three men indicted are long time associates of property-owner Vick, who was also known to members of the alleged conspiracy as "Ookie" according to the federal indictment.

On July 26, all four pleaded "not guilty" to all of the charges against them during a hearing before Judge Hudson at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Richmond, and a trial date was set for November 26. USA Today reported that all four defendants were released without bond, but among the pre-trial conditions imposed on Vick by U.S. Magistrate Dennis Dohnal in a separate hearing held the same day was that he surrender any dog breeding or kennel licenses he may have. All four defendants were required to be under active supervision of the court, surrender their passports, refrain from travel outside their immediate area without prior approval, and stay away from dogs, guns, and each other. Peace, Phillips and Taylor must undergo random drug tests, but not Vick, as he has no prior convictions. Peace and Phillips were also required to submit to electronic monitoring via ankle bracelets. Taylor was ordered to undergo substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

Federal prosecutors announced plans to file a superseding indictment by the end of August. According to a representative of the U.S. District Court, a superseding indictment could mean new charges and possibly new defendants in the case. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson said given the reputation of Richmond's federal prosecutors, he anticipates that Vick will face more federal charges. Munson also believes that the threat of a superseding indictment is intended to make the defendants plead guilty and cooperate with the government.

The two hearings took a total of 25 minutes, which is typical for a court popularly known as "the rocket docket" for the speed with which proceedings are conducted. It was unclear whether the same bail arrangements would also apply to additional federal charges, should any result from the superseding indictment anticipated next month, or whether additional state charges would violate the terms of the bail.

Afterwards, Vick issued a prepared statement through his lawyer, his first public comment since the indictment, in which he proclaimed his innocence, but apologized to his mother and his teammates. The terms of his bail theoretically left Vick free to play until the trial, provided he gets permission from the court to travel outside the immediate area of his primary residence. However, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated that Vick had to give up any thoughts of playing until the case is resolved.

Taylor responded to each question, "Yes." Hudson set sentencing for December 14.

Taylor's statement says the dogfighting ring's operations and gambling money "were almost exclusively funded by Vick." It also says Vick paid more than $30,000 to purchase the property near Smithfield, Virginia, where the house and outbuildings for training fighting dogs were built as the home of Bad Newz Kennels.

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper noted that Taylor's plea document described eight matches that he says Vick attended or sponsored between late 2002 and 2004, with dogs named Jane, Big Boy, Zebro, Magic, Tiny and Too Short. The group put the name "Bad Newz Kennels" to the operation in early 2002, according to the document. "At one point, the defendants obtained shirts and headbands representing and promoting their affiliation with 'Bad Newz Kennels,' "the summary says.

The newspaper made a copy of the entire 13-page "Summary of Facts" submitted with Taylor's plea and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act available online at: Tony Taylor "Summary of Facts" plea document 7-30-2007. The specific language that Vick provided almost all the funds and participated in the "ongoing criminal enterprise" in the plea documents fueled speculation by legal experts that Vick would face federal racketeering charges under the powerful Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Michael Vick may face new indictment]</ref> There had already been talk that the government might seek a RICO indictment, based on the specific "continuing criminal enterprise" language in the original indictment and in Taylor's plea agreement. A key element of proving racketeering is the existence of a "criminal enterprise," and gambling is an indictable offense under RICO. RICO is relatively seasy to prove in court, as it focuses on patterns of criminal behavior. If Vick had been charged under RICO, he would have faced penalties of up to 20 years in prison and pay treble damages.

By August 13, Vick's other two co-defendants, Peace and Phillips, had also agreed to also plead guilty under their own plea agreements, they were due in judge Hudson's court in consecutive hearings on August 17.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on August 15 that a federal grand jury in Richmond was to begin hearing new allegations against Vick stemming from the dogfighting case beginning the week of August 20. Munson suggested that Peace and Phillips' guilty pleas put Vick in a "legal checkmate," as their testimony, added to the other five potential witnesses the prosecutors already had, made it very difficult for Vick's legal team to prove reasonable doubt. court.

ESPN reported that another sticking point in the plea negotiations was the wording of the allocution Vick would have to make. He would have to make a detailed statement as to the extent of his involvement in the operation, such as the specific methods he used to kill the dogs.

On August 17, Peace and Phillips appeared before Judge Hudson at the U.S. District Court in Richmond. They entered their guilty pleas, plea agreements, and related statement of facts documentation. They also agreed to testify if the government requests it from them. Phillips' bail was revoked due to failing a drug test.

Peace and Phillips were told that because of the "victimization and execution of pit bull dogs" described in court filings, "upward departure" from the sentencing guidelines is "necessary in this case." The aggravating factors will be taken into consideration at sentencing, which means they could face harsher punishments at their sentencing on November 30.

On August 20, 2007 Vick plead guilty to the federal felony dogfighting conspiracy charge. Vick's lawyer Billy Martin released this statement.

On August 24, 2007 it was announced that Vick had signed a plea agreement and issued a statement admitting his participation and funding of the dogfighting ring, but maintaining that he did not place any bets or take any prize money.

On August 27, Vick appeared before Judge Hudson, submitted the guilty plea, and was given a sentencing date of December 10.

On November 30, Peace and Phillips were sentenced by Judge Hudson to 18 and 21 months in federal prison respectively. The punishments were higher than recommended by federal prosecutors, and included three years of supervised probation following their release from prison. Taylor is also due to be sentenced on December 10, but, like Peace and Phillips, had agreed to testify against Vick at trial before he also accepted a plea agreement.

At the time of the November 30 hearings for Peace and Phillips, Vick was being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions and his April 2, 2008 trial on the Virginia state charges.

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison on the federal charges on December 10, 2007. . Tony Taylor, who was the first to plead guilty, received a sentence of 60 days in jail on December 14, 2007, which was within the sentencing guidelines for no more than 6 months in prison. Allen, who sold some of the dogs used in the operation, received probation on January 25, 2008.

Taylor was released from federal prison on March 20, 2008, with 9 days of time off for good behavior. State trials for Taylor, Vick, Peace, and Philips have been pushed back until logistics related to the transportation of Vick, Peace, and Philips are resolved (they are in prisons in Kansas, New Jersey, and Florida, respectively).

The property used in the operation, 1915 Moonlight Road, was forfeited by Vick and is currently up for sale.

As of August 17, possible additional state charges were still under investigation. Part-time Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter and Sheriff Harold D. Brown in the county had been criticized for slowness, particularly by the investigative news reports of WAVY-TV, the NBC affiliate in Hampton Roads. In response, they have indicated "doing it right" was more a priority than speed, and that they are continuing to cooperate with federal authorities.

Following the federal indictments of July 17, local authorities in Surry County said they could possibly prosecute different crimes than those charged in the federal indictment. Poindexter and Brown said they are continuing to cooperate with federal authorities. Both Brown and Poindexter told news media that they were taken aback by the level of detail in the indictments, especially mention of dogs allegedly being executed by hanging, drowning and electrocution. "That's revealing to me. I didn't know anything about that," said Poindexter, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Poindexter said he thought most people in the county didn’t know about the alleged fights. "It's an underground, well-guarded crime," he said. He also noted that he has also learned a great deal about dog fighting recently which he hadn't known before.

Although the federal investigation and charges placed drew most publicity in July and August, 2007, the local investigation and consideration of charges under violations of state laws were also continuing. Plea bargains with federal prosecutors would have no official standing in the local case. Double jeopardy concepts would not apply to state and federal overlapping cases. The county grand jury would be the group which would typically consider felony indictments presented by a local prosecutor under state laws.

On July 24, Brown stated that he felt certain state indictments for additional charges in Virginia would be returned by a local grand jury during session which begins September 25. However, no individuals have been named as target(s) to date. Until August 17, there had also been no indication of how many charges might be presented to the grand jury in Surry County. Over fifty dogs were seized, in addition to carcasses recovered, and a number of the interstate fight events, all with attendant gambling activities, were allegedly hosted at Vick's Surry County estate.

On August 17, Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter told WVEC-TV that the admissions contained in the federal plea agreements filed by Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips were "a road map to indictments in Surry County." The plea agreements implicate all four men, Peace, Phillips, Taylor and Vick in both dog fighting and the killing of dogs. It had been noted in earlier media reports that one of the agreements states that eight dogs were killed jointly by Peace, Phillips and Vick in April 2007 (prior to the April 25 search).

Poindexter told the WVEC news reporter that he's looking at two felony counts: dogfighting and killing of a companion animal. The maximum sentence in Virginia for each charge is five years. "We believed we had evidence and this is the first time someone's admitted to it. It's sad and outrageous. It's gruesome." he added. It was also not clear whether any state prison sentence(s) would be allowed run concurrently with any federal time, or would be served consecutively. ESPN reported on August 18 that Vick could face up to 40 years in prison under state laws.

Following guilty pleas in the federal case, Vick, Taylor, Peace, and Phillips were indicted on state felony charges relating to dog fighting under state laws by after indictments were returned by a local grand jury in Surry County, Virginia in September, 2007.

Vick faces two felony counts under state laws and his jury trial in Surry County Circuit Court was to have begun on April 2, 2008. The maximum penalty if convicted on the state charges would be 10 years in prison. His co-defendants were also assigned trial dates. Purnell Peace was scheduled to face a jury trial March 5, 2008, as was Quanis Phillips, but did not ask for a jury trial. Tony Taylor, currently not in custody, was to have been tried on May 7. The trials of all four, however, has been pushed back until Vick, Peace, and Philips have been released from prison, because of costs associated with transportation to Virginia state courts (Taylor's trial is also delayed until the other defendants have finished their prison terms).

Vick, the last to plead guilty to federal charges, pled guilty to state charges on 2008-11-25, paying a $2,500 fine as a result and court fees.. The fine would only be paid if Vick fails to stay out of trouble for four years. As a result of the guilty plea, Vick would be eligible to serve the last six months of his federal sentence in a halfway house beginning 2009-01-20. Peace, Phillips, and Taylor still face trial on the same charges.

As of October 2, 2007, the 49 dogs which were seized in April remained in animal shelters in Hampton Roads and central Virginia. An ASPCA evaluation showed that one animal, identified as #2621, was aggressive to the point the evaluation couldn't be completed and it has a history of biting people. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered that it be euthanized. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond announced in court filings that the other 48 canines may be safe enough to place in the community with strict conditions.

On October 16, Hudson acted on a government motion requesting animal law expert Rebecca J. Huss to serve as the guardian-special master to oversee the possible placement of the 48 dogs, or their euthanasia. The judge also granted a request by the U.S. attorney's office that each of the pit bulls be spayed or neutered and have microchips implanted.

In November 2007, Vick was observed to be liquidating some of his real estate assets, notably the dog-fighting estate property near Smithfield, Virginia and one of his multi-million dollar homes which are located in Suffolk, Virginia, near Atlanta, Georgia, and the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Florida. ESPN reported on October 20 that the one near Atlanta was listed for sale at a $4.5 million asking price. At the request of federal authorities before his sentencing in federal court, he agreed to deposit nearly $1 million dollars in an escrow account with attorneys for use to reimburse costs of caring for the confiscated dogs, most of which are now being offered for adoption on a selective basis under supervision of a court-appointed specialist. Experts say some of the animals will require individual care for the rest of their lives.

On July 7, 2008 an article was published by the Washington Post reporting on the status of the dogs. At the time of the article, two of the seized dogs had been euthanized - one for aggression, as mentioned previously, and one due to health problems. Of the 47 remaining dogs, 22 were sent to an animal sanctuary at the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah because of aggression toward other dogs, and 25 were placed in foster care. Several of the latter have been adopted. The dogs and therapists where featured in a DogTown episode entitled "DogTown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs" on the National Geographic Channel.

Companies employing Vick for endorsements and producing or selling Vick-related products apparently reacted to the negative publicity soon after the federal indictments. According to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Nike was Vick's biggest endorsement deal. The company initially announced in July that it had "suspended Michael Vick's contract without pay, and will not sell any more Michael Vick product at Nike owned retail at this time." although the company said it had not terminated the contract, as animal-rights activists had urged the company to do. However, Nike also announced it was suspending the release of the Zoom Vick V, a new line of shoes. On August 24, hours after details of Vick's guilt plea and statement of facts were made public, Nike announced it was completely terminating its relationship with him. Adidas announced its Reebok division would stop selling Vick football jerseys. The NFL said it had pulled all Vick-related items from NFLShop.com. Trading card companies including Donruss and Upper Deck soon followed with similar actions. St. Louis-based sporting goods manufacturer Rawlings, which used Vick's likeness to sell merchandise and modeled a football using his name, ended its relationship. The same day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority stores, part of a major chain, have also stopped selling Vick-related goods.

Some fans of the Atlanta Falcons have been donating their Vick-related jerseys and shirts to the Atlanta Humane Society for use as animal bedding and cleaning rags. Others have produced dog chew toys in Vick's effigy.

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Source : Wikipedia