Aug. 29 was a bad day for Michael Vick haters, who already couldn't stand the fact that he successfully resurrected his NFL career last year after spending 19 months in jail for running a dogfighting ring. Now, not only that, but the Philadelphia Eagles made matters worse Monday by signing him to a reported six-year, $100 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed.
Never mind that NFL players virtually never receive the total value of their contract. Vick would do well to see $40 million from the deal, as even "guaranteed" money in NFL deals can evaporate a bit. Still, creditors from his bankruptcy case are as happy as anyone about the new contract.
However, there's no denying Vick's status as one of the league's highest-paid players and biggest stars, thanks to an MVP-caliber season last year. That's a huge change from May 2009, when he was released from federal prison and animal lovers organized protests against him, before the Eagles took a chance on him and before he partnered with the Humane Society in an anti-dogfighting campaign.
It's not as if all demonstrations against him have ceased. His most ardent critics still make themselves known on sports radio shows, at stadiums and in the comments section under Web stories. To those folks, Vick didn't pay his debt by serving time in Leavenworth Penitentiary; that was just a down payment on a bill that will never reach a zero balance.
There are performance-related reasons to question the Eagles' decision to invest so heavily in Vick. His style of play makes him more prone to injury and will grow less effective as he ages. And as exciting as he was in leading the Eagles to a 10-6 record, his statistics declined late in the season as defenses did a better job of adjusting to him.
But the team is convinced Vick can deliver on the field and, thankfully, is paying no attention to his critics off the field.
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