Armed with new deal, grateful Vick now wants a championship

Posted: August 31, 2011

MICHAEL VICK understands the real weight of the load he is about to shoulder, as he hefts this giant bag of Jeffrey Lurie's money, Vick said yesterday.

"Absolutely," Vick said, when asked whether he feels he has to win a Super Bowl to validate his new contract.

"As a competitor, I don't feel like my career would be complete without that. That's the reason I've worked so hard," Vick, 31, told a NovaCare news conference yesterday.

"I've learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way," said Vick, who vowed that his new contract won't make him complacent - he said he will work harder, "to continue to show that I'm worthy of everything I've gotten."

"That is what's left to be done," team president Joe Banner said on Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live," when asked about the pressure on Vick to win a Super Bowl now.

(The deal, heralded as 6 years and $100 million, is really 5 years and $80 million, with a window dressing sixth year that will be voided if Vick takes 35 percent of the snaps in any of the first five seasons. Asked the purpose of the sixth year, Banner said the real per year average doesn't change that much - it goes from $16.67 million to $16 million - so the 6 vs. 5 isn't really consequential. Banner did not answer the question, but if you were to guess that the publicity over Vick signing the second $100 million deal of his career, after going to prison in 2007 and declaring bankruptcy, was an incentive for everyone involved, you might be correct.)

Banner said that signing Vick 2 years ago, fresh out of federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation, was a tougher call than yesterday's much more lucrative deal. He said management knows Vick now and is willing to gamble its future on his reformed character.

"Obviously, it's going to create, you know, a lot of demands," Vick said. "I know what comes along with it, and I know how to handle it, but I think aside from the money, it's not even about that. It's about the changes that have been made in my life. Kids have the opportunity to see you should never count yourself out, but, at the same time, don't put yourself in a position where you have to make your miraculous comeback.

"That's not what it's about. I did it through the grace of God, and because I had the will to do it. Everybody may not have that, but I say that to say just be appreciative of what you have, you know, the opportunities you've been given in your life. Don't take anything for granted. I did that at one point, when I had the big contract in Atlanta. I think that will definitely help me now in understanding what's most important."

A little less than 29 months ago, Vick stood in U.S. Bankruptcy Court while one of his attorneys told a judge about a $10-an-hour construction job Vick had lined up when he got out of prison.

"To be honest, I never thought this day would come," Vick said when asked whether he had envisioned signing another state-of-the-art deal from his cell at Leavenworth.

Also appearing on "Daily News Live" last night was CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell, who has followed the Vick bankruptcy case closely. Rovell said Vick will remain on a court-ordered stipend of $300,000 a year until 2014, even after his bankruptcy creditors are paid the $18 million or so he owes them. Any extra money will be put aside in an account available to Vick after 2014, Rovell said. Rovell said that among those who never could have imagined this day 2 years ago were Vick's creditors, including the Atlanta Falcons, who gave him that first megacontract, in 2005. Now everyone should get paid what is owed, which is unusual in bankruptcy cases.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, one of the circle of key figures Vick repeatedly thanked for putting him in such a position, said Vick's story is about second chances, and how you handle them.

"The story to this, I think is just that, that through hard work and keeping your nose clean and doing the right things, good things happen," Reid said. "And then also, there can be opportunity for a second chance, and how do you handle that second chance? I think that's really the story here, and none of this was possible without Michael being in the right frame of mind and then working his tail off on and off the field, and that's what he did."

The Eagles made Vick the highest-paid player in franchise history. Apparently, the $35 million to $40 million he is guaranteed all comes within the next 3 years, which, realistically, is the window for him to win a Super Bowl, for a team that has never done that. Also, in a real heck of a coincidence, Reid's contract is up in 3 years.

"He deserves it," wideout Jeremy Maclin said, when asked about Vick's deal and the controversy that accompanied Vick to Philadelphia 2 years ago. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but you can't really argue with how he's played.

"He's an incredible dude, man. I've seen a lot of guys going through kind of what he's experienced . . . A lot of guys eventually go back to doing what they were doing. But I think he really has changed. I think he deserves everything he's getting. I'm happy to have him around for as long as we've signed him for."

The Eagles franchised Vick for $16 million this year in February, just to protect their rights heading into the lockout. Vick was happy to sign the tender then, and the few weeks of talks that led to this deal were not at all contentious, according to Banner and to Vick's agent, Joel Segal.

"Mike wanted to be here. He just said, 'Get a deal,' " Segal said.

Segal was Vick's agent through the jailing and the reinstatement and the search for a team that would allow him to resume his career, through last year's Pro Bowl season of redemption, set up by the Week 1 concussion suffered by starter Kevin Kolb. Segal said the August day when the Eagles announced the first Vick signing, in the same NovaCare auditorium as yesterday's event, didn't seem so distant.

"This is something you probably could not think of on your own. It's been up and down, ebbs and flows, every emotion you could imagine," Segal said. "We're very close personally, besides the business. There have been ups and downs, and I'm real proud of him right now. The change is huge. It's been a pleasure to watch. I'm glad he's doing well now. He's excited; he's a great dad, he's a great person, and ready to hopefully win a Super Bowl, is what he told me."

Ah, yes, that detail again. In the locker room, Maclin was asked what is left for Vick to accomplish.

"I think win a championship," Maclin said. "I think we have all the pieces to do that. Once all those things start getting put together . . . I think we have a good chance of doing that."

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