Judge doubts Vick's earning potential, rejects his bankruptcy plan

RICHMOND, Va. -- Michael Vick's plan to emerge from bankruptcy simply didn't add up.

The uncertainty surrounding the aging, suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback's return to pro football, as well as vague book and film deals, prompted a bankruptcy judge to reject Vick's Chapter 11 plan and order a new one.

This time, the judge wants a proposal based on the stark reality facing Vick: He has about $210,000 but owes $1 million in fees from the bankruptcy case and about $3.7 million in legal bills -- some $13,700 per day since he filed for Chapter 11 protection in July.

Vick also faces at least $200,000 in annual living expenses if he keeps two Virginia homes and three vehicles. His only guaranteed income is a $10-an-hour construction job that will be part of his probation when he is moved from federal prison to home confinement in May.

Career Statistics
Passer Rating: 75.7

Pass TDs/INTs: 71/52

Rushing TDs: 21

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro considered those obligations and other expenses and concluded that Vick would need to earn $7.5 to $8 million per year to break even over the next three years.

"There is no evidence he will be able to make that kind of money," Santoro said Friday.

Vick was the NFL's highest-paid player after signing a 10-year, $140 million deal with the Falcons. But Vick and the Falcons plan to part ways, and it's unlikely he will be able to command anywhere near that kind of money if he is reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and signed by another team.

The average NFL salary last year was $1.85 million, according to the NFL Players Association. Vick's agent, Joel Segal, testified that he would try to negotiate a contract with a modest base salary and hefty incentives for playing time and starts. The minimum salary for a player with Vick's seven years of experience is $620,000.

Vick said he believed if he "did the right things," he could play 10 to 12 more years. But the quarterback already is 28 -- the average age for an NFL quarterback -- and has exceeded the league's 3.2-year career average. As a running quarterback, he also takes more physical punishment and is more susceptible to injury than most.

And there's no guarantee Vick will be reinstated by the NFL. He testified that he could wind up in the fledgling United Football League, a four-team league that begins its first season this fall.

Vick's lawyers said he has agreed to a television documentary deal that will pay him $600,000 -- half up front, the rest when the film is completed -- but Santoro held up the one-page proposal from an organization called Red Bird and questioned whether it could be considered a bona fide deal.

An accountant hired by Vick to help untangle his financial mess and advise him in future deals testified he believed Vick could obtain "bridge financing" that would allow him to immediately collect the second $300,000 and repay it when the film is complete, but again, the judge seemed skeptical.

One of Vick's attorneys also alluded to people in "the literary arts" working on Vick's behalf, but he provided no details.

Santoro didn't set a deadline for Vick to submit a new plan but will be updated at a status hearing April 28. The judge suggested selling one or both of the two homes and the three cars that Vick wants to keep.

Vick has a home in Hampton, which tax records show is worth about $748,000, and he is building a $2 million home in Suffolk. He planned to sell the home he bought his mother and move her into the Hampton house, where he and his fiancee and their two children also would live until the Suffolk home is ready.

The new house still needs about $300,000 worth of work and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Vick said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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