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August 15, 2009

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Vick ready to soar with Eagles

QUARTERBACK Michael Vick, released from jail in May after serving 23 months for bankrolling a dogfighting ring, has been given a "second chance" by the Philadelphia Eagles and signed a two-year deal with the team.

Eagles coach Andy Reid confirmed the signing and was confident the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback was a positive addition.

The Eagles were to hold a news conference later yesterday to announce the deal.

"I'm a believer that as long as people go through the right process they deserve a second chance," Reid said in a televised interview following the Eagles' preseason game against the New England Patriots on Thursday.

"I've had a chance to talk to Michael a few times to make sure I know where he's at and he's in a good place.

"We're excited to get a good football player -- you're talking about one of the top QBs in the league when he was playing."

The first year of Vick's contract was worth US$1.6 million, reported. The Eagles will need to pay US$5.2 million if they want to keep him for a second year, the Website said.

Reid has already assured current starting quarterback Donovan McNabb that Vick's presence would not create a controversy at the position.

"There's no threat for me," McNabb said.

"It's an opportunity for us to add another threat to our offense and our team. I lobbied to get him here because I think everyone deserves a second chance."

The 29-year-old Vick had been free to sign with any National Football League team and was reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis on July 27 by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

A decision on his return to action is due by the sixth week of the regular season.

As part of his reinstatement, Vick will be eligible to play in Philadelphia's final two preseason games and can participate in all team activities except for games when the regular season starts.

The first overall pick in the 2001 draft, Vick was once one of the most exciting and popular players in the NFL. He took the league by storm with his highlight reel athleticism and strong left arm.

Atlanta rewarded its franchise player in 2004 with a 10-year contract worth US$130 million -- the richest deal in the NFL at the time.

However, Vick had a stunning fall from grace in 2007 when police raided his rural Virginia property and found evidence of dogfighting.

Vick pleaded guilty after being charged by a federal grand jury with counts of conspiracy to engage in competitive dogfighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines. He was suspended indefinitely without pay by the NFL and sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison.

The Eagles went to the playoffs last season under McNabb, and are still looking for their elusive first Super Bowl win.

McNabb has led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in the last eight years.

The team was a surprise landing point for Vick. It was among 26 clubs that said there was no interest in Vick, but that may have changed when backup Kevin Kolb strained a knee ligament this week. Kolb's injury wasn't serious and he's expected to return next week. The Eagles also have veteran A J Feeley.


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