- Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick says that he is officially retired
- His Friday announcement came before his former team takes on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 on Sunday in Houston, Texas
- Vick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 1 overall pick in 2001 draft
- His tenure there ended in disgrace when he was arrested for his role in a dog fighting ring and was sentenced to 23 months in prison
- After his release, Vick would play for the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers
- He didn't play at all in 2016 and said it helped him realize it was time to move on
Michael Vick, who rose to stardom with the Atlanta Falcons before he was sent to prison for running a dogfighting operation, is retiring from playing in the NFL.
The 36-year-old quarterback's Friday announcement came before his former team takes on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 on Sunday in Houston, Texas.
Vick was the number one overall draft selection in 2001, but his tenure in Atlanta ended in disgrace when he was arrested for his role in a dog fighting ring.
Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick declared Friday that he is officially retired. He is pictured in January at a Falcons game
Michael Vick leaves federal court August 27, 2007 in Richmond, Viriginia, in this photo
Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his role in running a dog fighting ring. He is pictured leaving a court house after an appearance in 2008
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his role in running a dog fighting ring.
Vick didn't play at all in 2016 and said that helped him realize it was time to move on.
'In this moment right now, I'm willing to say yeah, I'm officially retired,' the 36-year-old Vick said during an ESPN interview.
After serving nearly two years in prison for his role in the dogfighting case, Vick never played for Atlanta again
'I think it's time. I think going through the 2016 season without playing and being able to be a spectator and watch the game and enjoy it from afar and root for a lot of the players and coaches I once played for, I think kind of summed it all up for me.
'So now I think I'm officially ready, I'm ready to move on to different things in my life and different facets of my life.'
Vick was recently asked by Sports Illustrated about what's next in store for him.
He said in the interview: 'I think trying to take those steps in coaching or giving back—as long as it's something connected with the game of football.
'Whether it's sitting on the set of College GameDay or on NFL Network, I don't know. I would have to work at it to make sure I'm good at it and happy doing it every day. But I think the future's bright.'
Vick passed for 22,464 yards and 133 touchdowns against 88 interceptions during 13 NFL seasons. His 6,109 career yards rushing are an NFL record by a quarterback.
Vick was selected by Atlanta with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft.
He made three Pro Bowl appearances with the Falcons and became the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, going for 1,039 in 2006 with Atlanta.
The Falcons drafted their current quarterback, Matt Ryan, when Vick was in prison in 2008.
After serving nearly two years in prison for his role in the dogfighting case, Vick never played for Atlanta again.
While he was in prison, Vick said he always dreamed of playing for the Atlanta Falcons again. He is pictured on January 4, 2002, in a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers
But Vick was replaced by Matt Ryan, who the Falcons drafted in 2008. Ryan is pictured after winning the NFC Championship on January 22
He returned to the league after his release and was NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2010 with the Philadelphia Eagles. His performance declined over the next two seasons with the Eagles.
He started three games for the New York Jets in 2014 and three for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015.
Vick recently opened up about his time in prison, and watching his former team make it to the Super Bowl.
'On the first day of my sentence at Leavenworth Penitentiary, on November 19, 2007, I made a list of three things that I wanted to accomplish. One was to make it home from prison safe,' Vick wrote in The Players' Tribune.
'Two was to see my grandmother again, before she passed away. And three was to return to the Atlanta Falcons as their starting quarterback — and finish what I’d started.
'I wanted to lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl.'
Vick then went on to discuss how people thought he was crazy or in denial for thinking he could return to the city he loved and the team he led.
'To be honest, that really wasn't the case at all. In those first few months of my sentence, I really did come to understand how far I had fallen,' he wrote.
'I came to understand how much hurt I had caused, and how much work it was going to take to earn back just a portion of the respect that I had lost... But there was one thing that I just had a permanent blind spot for: being the starting quarterback of the Falcons.
'It was something that I had taken so much pride in … something that I had come to identify myself... I was "Mike Vick, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons". I was those five words.'
'Not everybody can tell you the specific day that they hit rock bottom, but for me it isn’t hard: April 26, 2008,' Vick wrote. 'The day my mom had a birthday and my grandma had a stroke. The day the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan, quarterback out of Boston College. 'The day I lost Atlanta.' Ryan is pictured on stage at the NFL Draft in April 2008
Michael and Kijafa Vick are seen together at an NFL fashion event in New York City in January 2014. They have three children: Jada, London and Mitez
Ultimately, Vick - who said he was 'sorrier than (he) could ever express for what he had done' - did not get a chance to return to the team he considered to be his.
The 36-year-old revealed he found out his career in Atlanta was all but over just moments after he called his mother to wish her a happy birthday, only for her to tell him his grandmother suffered a stroke. She died just days later.
MICHAEL VICK'S CAREER TIMELINE
April 2001: Vick is drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the number one pick
2002: He is named to his first Pro Bowl
January 2003: Vick and the Falcons become the first team to beat Green Bay in a playoff game at Lambeau Field
2004: Vick makes his second Pro Bowl, after signing a contract with the Falcons worth $130million - the biggest in history
2005: He is named to a third Pro Bowl
April 2007: A search warrant is issued for a property owned by Vick. Evidence of dog fighting is discovered.
July 2007: Vick is indicted on felony charges of operating an unlawful interstate dog fighting. The ring was called, 'Bad Newz Kennels.'
December 2007: Vick is sentenced to 23 months in prison
April 2008: The Atlanta Falcons pick Matt Ryan in the NFL Draft
July 2008: Vick files for bankruptcy
May 2009: Vick is released from prison
June 2009: The quarterback is cut by the Falcons. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles later in the year
2010: Vick is named the NFL's Comback Player of the Year, and made his fourth Pro Bowl
August 2011: He signs a $100million deal with the Eagles
March 2014: Vick signs with the New York Jets after leaving Philadelphia
August 2015: He signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers, before being released at the end of the season
'Not everybody can tell you the specific day that they hit rock bottom, but for me it isn't hard: April 26, 2008,' Vick wrote for the Players' Tribune.
'The day my mom had a birthday and my grandma had a stroke. The day the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan, quarterback out of Boston College.
'The day I lost Atlanta.'
Vick was released from prison in May 2009, and the Falcons cut him from the team in June.
The quarterback went on in his emotional letter to dismiss rumors he does not get along with Ryan, and says the opposite is true, before describing what he considers the best moment of his time with the team.
'I'm proud of the moment we created,' he said.
'It wasn't just inside the Georgia Dome. It was also outside of it - throughout the entire city. It was a moment that was everywhere, and for everyone to share in.
'Everywhere you turned, everywhere you looked: Falcons fitteds, Falcons jerseys… man, it was Falcons everything.
'It meant a lot to me to be able to give the black kids of Atlanta their very own black quarterback - someone who they could see on the field, and watch play, and think, you know, "My QB looks kind of like me. And I could play that position someday, too."
'It just felt very real.'
But despite the intense connection Vick discussed, it had been more than 10 years since he returned to Atlanta as a Falcon.
All that changed on January 1, when Atlanta hosted New Orleans for its final regular season game in the Georgia Dome. The team is moving to a new $1.6billion stadium next season, and it invited a host of franchise legends back to farewell its soon-to-be former home.
When Vick heard about the plan, he was desperate to be involved.
'I wanted that phone call so badly... Once I heard they were doing that, all I could think about was getting that invitation,' he wrote.
'I've kept a healthy relationship with the team over the years, but always from a distance. I think the team has always been hesitant to welcome me back into the fold - at least in any official or public capacity.
'And I understood. But when I heard that this ceremony was happening… well, knowing my part in Falcons history, I just thought to myself, "Is it finally my time?"
In his emotion essay, Vick wrote about how the thing he is most proud of from his career is the bond he had with fans in Atlanta (pictured)
After he was released from prison and was cut by the Falcons, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. He is pictured during a game playing for the team
'If I didn't get to be a part of saying goodbye to the Georgia Dome… I was going to be pretty heartbroken.'
Vick then revealed the conversation he had with the team when he was invited back.
'The number of Kevin Winston, the Falcons’ director of player development, showed up on my cell,' he wrote.
'Then he just said it. "Mike, I think it’s time for you to come back home."
'I thought about so many things in that moment, on that call. I thought about how impossible something like this had seemed, at times, during my prison sentence.
'I can't really remember the rest of the conversation, because I was so happy. But I'm pretty sure, within a half second or so, I just came back at Kevin, like, "I'm there. I’m all in."'
To close out his essay, Vick spoke about the moment he returned for the game in January, and when he was with former teammate Roddy White when they were driven out onto the field in the back of a 'drop-top'.
Vick spoke about the moment he returned for the game in January. He is pictured on the field at the Georgia Dome
'It was so beautiful. 'I didn’t actually want to die, right then, in front of 70,000 people - but it was one of those moments where you’re thinking, "You know what? I could die right here… and that would be OK, too",' Vick wrote about his return to Atlanta
'As our car gets ready to take the field, I try my best to stay calm... And then of course I have Roddy, looking at me, with that big old Roddy grin, grabbing my shoulders, pumping me up, saying, "Bro. Bro. This is about to be crazy,"' Vick wrote.
'My nerves disappeared, and I looked at Roddy, and we laughed. And I just thought, OK, this is it. Whatever happens, from here on out, today - you made it back. You’ve waited a decade for this, but now you’re here. You're home. So let's go.
'And, man: I barely even know what to say. Because it was so beautiful.
'I didn't actually want to die, right then, in front of 70,000 people - but it was one of those moments where you're thinking, "You know what? I could die right here… and that would be OK, too".
'It was perfect.'
In the years since he was released from prison, Vick has taken steps to right his horrific wrongs.
He has worked with the Humane Society of the United States, publicly supported the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act - a law signed by President Barack Obama in 2014 that means it is now a federal crime to attend an organized animal fight, and he pushed to give Pennsylvania police the power to rescue animals that were locked in cars during dangerous temperatures.
'I know that I'm an unlikely advocate,' Vick told ESPN at the time.
'I was part of the problem. Now, my perspective can help reach people that activists can't reach. I can help others become agents of change.'
The Falcons face the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Vick says he is rooting for his former team.
Vick married his childhood sweetheart, Kijafa, in June 2012. They have three children together: Jada, London and Mitez.
He told Sports Illustrated: 'I'm kind of looking at life from a different perspective now. I've got kids growing that I've got to be there for.
'I was committed in 2016 to giving it one more shot. I'm very content with my career and what I've been able to accomplish. I accomplished more than I ever thought I would.
'Listen, at the end of the day, through all the downs I played, I can say I won a game for every team that I played for, even though I only made three starts in New York and three starts in Pittsburgh.
'I made a difference, I'm content with my career and I'm ready to move forward in life.'
Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick stands on the sidelines before a game on January 1 against the New Orleans Saints
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