Vick to be featured on Sports Illustrated cover

The Eagles' Michael Vick (center) after speaking at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Conn. Vick gave a speech to students, urging them to show kindness toward animals.
The Eagles' Michael Vick (center) after speaking at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Conn. Vick gave a speech to students, urging them to show kindness toward animals.
Posted: November 24, 2010

In the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, Michael Vick recounts in detail his 30th birthday party in Virginia Beach during which one of the codefendants in his dogfighting case was shot, the aftermath of the incident when he thought his NFL career was "done," and his decision to leave his hometown "madness" after the shooting.

For the fourth time in his career, Vick is on the cover of SI. The issue hits newsstands on Wednesday. The cover photo shows the Eagles quarterback staring straight ahead with his helmet perched on his head. The headline reads, "The Enigma: What Michael Vick Tells Us About Ourselves."

The story, written by S.L. Price, follows Vick's return to NFL prominence. But it also describes how that return might have never happened after Quanis Phillips was shot in the leg outside the nightclub where Vick's party was taking place.

On June 25, Vick and his fiancee, Kijafa Frink, arrived at the Guadalajara restaurant about 12:45 a.m., according to the article.

"The plan was for them to have a couple of drinks, sing Happy Birthday and leave. But when Kijafa thought it'd be cute to smear cake on Vick's face in front of some 400 people, his temper flared," Price wrote.

Phillips then stepped up and grabbed the cake and shoved some into Vick's face, too, which made him irate, according to the story. Vick told Price that there was never any physical contact but that the argument "entailed plenty of 'strong' words."

"It was just cake," Vick said. "But still, it was embarrassing for me. And my pride just got in the way. But I kept thinking, 'I just got to go. I need to go.' In my younger days we would've been fighting, but I let it go. It took a lot to let it go, but I did it."

Vick then grabbed his fiancee, and they drove off. Fifteen minutes later, he received a phone call saying Phillips had been shot in the leg after Vick's departure, according to the quarterback's account to Price.

Virginia Beach authorities never arrested anyone in the shooting. Vick was questioned by police but never was identified as a person of interest. The Eagles and the NFL conducted their own investigations and cleared Vick of any wrongdoing, other than his poor judgment in attending the party.

When Vick arrived in training camp in late July, he said that he should have listened to his mother, Brenda, and not gone to the party that was hosted by his brother, Marcus. The June 25 birthday party apparently wasn't the first.

"She told us to stop having parties in February of this year," Vick said. "Kept doin' it. Kept doin' it. Kept doin' it, kept getting by, kept getting by, doin' them quietly. Then: boom."

Vick related to Price his initial call to Andy Reid after the shooting and what the Eagles coach said: "You shouldn't have been in that environment. . . . You shouldn't have been out after 12. . . . I don't know where this is going to go," Vick recalled Reid saying.

He also called Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts coach who backed the quarterback in his return to the NFL, and was admonished. Vick said the harshest reprimand came from his mother.

"I'm sitting on the chair crying, looking all crazy in the face," Vick says in the article. "My brother, he's sitting there, he ain't got no expression on his face because he ain't going through what I'm going through.

"I'm going through something totally different: I know what I want in life. I'm sure he do, too, but I love the game of football. I know what I can do on the field and what I can provide for a team. That's where my heart's at, and it would've killed me to have that taken away.

"And I could just see in her face, she was tired. She told us it was embarrassing. She wanted to disown us. That's what she told me: She wanted to walk away. She's like, 'You went to prison for 19 months, and you come out and you still ain't listening. . . .'

"Right then and there I told myself, I am changing my life. I'm going to do everything they ask me to do. I'm getting myself away from this madness."

Vick's probation officer ordered him to return to Philadelphia. The Eagles, meanwhile, staved off a hail of criticism for keeping Vick but maintained that he had not done enough to warrant removal from the team.

About four months later, the Eagles are 7-3 and leading the NFC East, and Vick has become an MVP candidate since he took over for Kevin Kolb in the opener.

Dogfighting talk. Vick was in New Haven, Conn., on Tuesday to speak out against dogfighting at two area high schools. The quarterback made the appearance in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States.

The Eagles did not practice Tuesday. They will return to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday to begin preparing for Sunday's game in Chicago.

Birds sign cornerback. The Eagles officially placed cornerback Ellis Hobbs on injured reserve and agreed to terms with cornerback Brandon Hughes, who will take Hobbs' place on the 53-man roster.

The Eagles signed Hughes from the Giants' practice squad. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound cornerback was drafted by the Chargers in the fifth round of the 2009 draft out of Oregon State. Hughes played in one game for San Diego in 2009 and spent all of this season on New York's practice squad.

Hobbs injured a disk in his neck when he was hit during a kick return Sunday night against the Giants. Hughes can return kicks and could be a replacement for Hobbs.


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.

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