By Ryan Velez
ESPN reports that former NFL quarterback Michael Vick has managed to pay off all the money he owes to his creditors, no small feat considering the amount of money he owed as well as how difficult it can be to work their way out of debt. This marks the final $1.5 million payment out of the $17.6 million that he owed when he filed for bankruptcy in July 2008.
The payment and final payouts were confirmed by Joseph Luzinski, a senior vice president at Development Specialists Inc., a management consultancy firm and the liquidating trustee in Vick's bankruptcy.
"Paying 99 cents on the dollar, which he did, is remarkable," Luzinski said. "It happens in, maybe, one out of 100 cases." Most people associate filing for bankruptcy as a way to wiggle out of debt or simply restart when there are no other options. However, Vick chose a non-traditional path. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7, which would have allowed him to liquidate his assets and not owe any more. This took place in the wake of his legal troubles, including serving 548 days in jail for running an illegal dogfighting ring. However, he decided to put in part of his future income in order to pay back his creditors. "I didn't want to stiff people who never stiffed me," Vick told ESPN in 2014.
During the five-year period from 2010 to 2014 in which he agreed to go on a restrictive budget to pay back his creditors, Vick earned nearly $50 million during four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the New York Jets. Vick played his final games in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and now works for Fox Sports as a studio analyst for its NFL coverage.
While many of his creditors are happier, the Atlanta Falcons may be more of a loser in this situations.
The Falcons were owed $6.5 million from Vick in a salary settlement negotiated in 2009. Less than two years later, the Falcons sold that liability to Fortress Capital, the investment firm co-founded by Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens. It’s unclear what Fortress paid in hopes of getting the money back.
"That was like playing the lottery," Vick told ESPN three years ago, when he had paid off 85 percent of the debt. "They didn't know if I was going to fully come back, and if you were to ask me, I would have done the same thing. But that's just how God worked in this situation."