Michael Vick picked a tough place for a second chance.
Philadelphia sports fans, it is said, would boo a cancer patient. They threw snowballs at Santa Claus during a game in 1968. They cheered when the Dallas Cowboys’ Michael Irvin injured his neck and had to be carried off the field in 1999. They behaved so badly that a courtroom was set up at old Veterans Stadium to handle arrests.
But the City of Brotherly Love is where Vick will make his comeback attempt.
“I think everybody deserves a second chance,” a somber Vick said Friday, a day after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. “We all have issues, we all deal with certain things and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you’re committed, then I think you deserve it. But you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that.”
A three-time Pro Bowl pick during six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring and was reinstated just last month by the NFL after being out of action since 2006.
The superstar said he wanted to play for a team with strong ownership, a solid coaching staff and an established starting quarterback. He signed a one-year deal for $1.6 million with a team option for a second year at $5.2 million. None of the money is guaranteed, so the Eagles face no financial risk if Vick doesn’t make the team.
Dressed in a gray, pinstriped suit, Vick, 29, called his offenses “a horrible mistake” and vowed to crusade for animal rights.
“I want to be part of the solution and not the problem,” Vick said during a half-hour news conference in front of more than 100 members of the media. “I am making conscious efforts within the community, working with the Humane Society. Hopefully I can do that locally and continue with my disciplined efforts in bringing awareness to animal cruelty and dogfighting in the inner cities and our communities.”
Vick will not be allowed to participate in regular-season games until commissioner Roger Goodell gives the OK. The commissioner said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 of the season, Oct. 18-19.
In coming to Philadelphia, Vick picked a city with a reputation for boorish fan behavior and pitiless sports talk radio.
Angry fans brought dogs and waited outside the team’s practice facility, carrying signs and banners to display their outrage.
“How could they sign Michael Vick?” said Mark Pascetta of Ridley Township. “They are supposed to be a character team. We don’t need him.”
Vick said he knows he might never be forgiven by some people.
“But our country is a country of second chances,” he said. “I paid my debt to society. I spent two years in prison. ... That was a humbling experience.”
Signings and such
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finally signed the six-year extension that will make him the NFL’s highest paid player with an average salary of roughly $15.3 million. He is guaranteed $35 million under terms of the $97 million extension. … First-round draft pick Eugene Monroe has ended a 12-day holdout by agreeing to a five-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Monroe, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle taken No. 8 from Virginia, could rejoin his teammates Saturday. The deal was expected to be in line with the one Green Bay defensive tackle B.J. Raji signed Friday. Raji, the ninth pick, reportedly agreed to a five-year, $28.5 million deal that included just under $18 million guaranteed.
New York Giants rookie running back Andre Brown, a fourth-round draft pick, has torn the Achilles’ tendon in his left leg and will be lost for the season. … A jury in Atlanta has found Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall not guilty of misdemeanor battery, stemming from a March 2008 argument with his girlfriend.