American Football: Repentant Vick joins Eagles in shock move

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The Independent Online

Michael Vick, the one-time star quarterback convicted and jailed for running a dogfighting ring, is back in the National Football League. He has signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The deal is on a trial basis, a one-year contract with an option for an extra year. Under the agreement to lift Vick's suspension announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month, Vick can take part in practice sessions and pre-season games, but will have to miss at least the first six games of the regular season. He will also earn only a fraction of what he did with the Atlanta Falcons, where a 10-year, $130m contract made him the league's highest paid player.

The Eagles are gambling that after two years out of the game, Vick has not lost the explosive skills that made him one of the NFL's most exciting quarterbacks. "He's an unbelievable athlete, both running the ball and throwing it," Andy Reid, Philadelphia's head coach, said. At his formal introduction as an Eagle yesterday, Vick, 29, again admitted he had made a terrible mistake. Now, he said, "I want to be part of the solution not the problem."

His recruitment by the Eagles came as a surprise, given they were among the 26 NFL teams who had announced they had no interest in him. But Donovan McNabb, the Eagles' starting quarterback – and the person most directly threatened by his arrival – was one of Vick's biggest advocates. "He's served his time ... he deserves a chance. I've looked past it, and I think everyone else should too."

But not everyone will. Animal rights activists are outraged. The Eagles have signed a player who "hanged dogs from trees" and "electrocuted them with jumper cables," animal rights group Peta said. "What kind of message does that send to young fans?"