August 26, 2007

The ($143 Million) Man

MICHAEL VICK COULD lose as much as $143 million over the next several years thanks to his involvement in dog-fighting, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. That includes $71 million in salary over the next seven years, roughly $50 million in endorsement money and $22 million in bonus money the Falcons had paid him since the start of his latest contract. Summed up, that's $143 million. $143 million.

It's amazing to think Mr Vick, through his admitted involvement with a dogfighting operation, threw all that money away. It's even more amazing to think he didn't consider that would happen if he was eventually caught, or had advisors who would tell him, "Say, Mike. You know, this might -- I don't know -- COMPLETELY RUIN YOUR CAREER if it ever got out." But that is all water under the bridge and Mr Vick now faces a prison term.

We won't know the answer to the major question I have for some time, but what I want to know is how Mr Vick will end up after he loses the $22 million the Falcons are going to claw back from him.

Unless he went completely overboard with his spending, it seems certain he would have the money to pay back the Falcons. It would be difficult even for a person with expensive tastes to spend more than $1 million or $2 million per year, and he has undoubtedly sunk at least some of his pay into good tangible assets, like his home. One can also imagine (hope?) he had some pretty good money managers, as the NFL has made a point over the years of educating its players about financial discipline. Plus, some estimates have put his total earnings thus far at $60 million, so unless he really emulated MC Hammer, he's got the cash.

Still, $22 million is a lot of money no matter how you look at it, and I have to think that loss will have at least some impact on Mr Vick's lifestyle. For losing it would mean Mr Vick would also lose out on the considerable annual income that money could conceivably generate. Even if we assume Mr Vick has $15 million or so left after the Falcons claw back his bonuses, he'll probably have to ratchet down his spending in the years to come, because he will never ever make the money he had been making again. (If Mr Vick has any future football career left, it seems likely that will involve him being up in Calgary playing for the Stampedas).

Again, amazing to think he threw it all away, and for nothing.

However, I do think all those Falcons fans out there crying in their beers should cheer up, as from a team perspective this might be the best thing that's happened in a while to Atlanta.

Like most non-Falcons fans out there, I consider Mr Vick a mediocre quarterback whose passing is unremarkable and who was remarkably overpaid for the benefits he brought to the team. (Simply put, we don't understand why Atlanta considered him the best thing since sliced bread). Let's recall the Falcons have only had one decent season since Vick joined the team -- that would be 2004, when they went 11-5 -- and his overhyped style has not helped the Falcons escape subpar performances in 2003, 2005 and 2006. This year, to be perfectly blunt, would have been no different. Even if the Falcons had somehow made it to the Super Bowl with Vick in charge, they would have been blown out by the better AFC team.

But now that the Falcons are freed from having to pay the man his exorbinant salary, they can focus on building their squad and eventually hire a good quarterback for a reasonable sum, as opposed to the oxygen-sucking package that Mr Vick received. The long and short is that every cloud has a silver lining, and the Falcons would be remiss if they didn't take the opportunity Mr Vick's forced departure has given them.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 26, 2007 12:17 AM | TrackBack
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