Michael Vick recounts in detail his 30th birthday party in Virginia Beach in which one of the co-defendant's in his dogfighting case was shot, the aftermath of the incident when he thought he "was done," and his decision to leave his hometown and the "madness" after the shooting in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.
For the fourth time in his career, Vick graces the cover of SI. The issue hits newsstands on Wednesday. The cover picture is of the Eagles quarterback staring straight ahead with his helmet perched on his head. The headline: "The Enigma: What Michael Vick Tell Us About Ourselves."
The story, written by S.L. Price, follows Vick's rise back to the top of the NFL mountain this season. But it also describes how Vick's redemption may have never happened because of the June 25 shooting of Quanis Phillips outside the nightclub that was hosting Vick's party.
Vick and his fiance, Kijafa, arrived at the Guadalajara restaurant about 12:45 a.m.
"The plan was for them to have a couple of drinks, sing Happy Birthday and leave. But when Kijafa thought it’d be cute to smear cake on Vick’s face in front of some 400 people, his temper flared," Price wrote.
Phillips then stepped up and grabbed the cake and shoved some into Vick's face, too. Vick blew up, according to the story. He told Price that there was never any physical contact but that the argument "entailed plenty of 'strong' words."
“It was just cake,” Vick said in the story. “But still, it was embarrassing for me. And my pride just got in the way. But I kept thinking, I just got to go. I need to go. In my younger days we would’ve been fighting, but I let it go. It took a lot to let it go, but I did it.”
Vick grabbed his fiance and they drove off. Fifteen minutes later he received a phone call saying that Phillips had been shot in the leg after Vick’s departure, according to Vick's account to Price.
Vick called Eagles coach Andy Reid, who let into his quarterback.
“You shouldn’t have been in that environment. . . . You shouldn’t have been out after 12. . . . I don’t know where this is going to go," Vick recounted to Price.
Vick kept saying after the incident, when he arrived at training camp, that he should have listened to his mother, Brenda, from the beginning and not have gone to the party that was hosted by his brother, Marcus. Apparently, Vick and his brother had been partying for months.
“She told us to stop having parties in February of this year," Vick said. "Kept doin’ it. Kept doin’ it. Kept doin’ it, kept getting by, kept getting by, doin’ them quietly. Then: boom.”
The shooting occurred and Brenda Vick admonished her sons.
“I’m sitting on the chair crying, looking all crazy in the face,” Vick says. “My brother, he’s sitting there, he ain’t got no expression on his face because he ain’t going through what I’m going through. I’m going through something totally different: I know what I want in life. I’m sure he do too, but I love the game of football. I know what I can do on the field and what I can provide for a team. That’s where my heart’s at, and it would’ve killed me to have that taken away.
"And I could just see in her face, she was tired. She told us it was embarrassing. She wanted to disown us. That’s what she told me: She wanted to walk away. She’s like, ‘You went to prison for 19 months, and you come out and you still ain’t listening. . . .’
“Right then and there I told myself, I am changing my life. I’m going to do everything they ask me to do. I’m getting myself away from this madness.”
The article also provided other revelations:
-- After Vick was initially released from prison in May, 2009, Reid phoned Tony Dungy, who visited Vick in prison and was going to assist him in his recovery, that spring. “Do you think he’s heading in the right direction? Do you think his heart’s right?" Reid asked Dungy, according to the article. The Eagles eventually signed Vick in August.
-- As Reid has said before, his own personal experience with his sons, Garrett and Britt, had something to do with him giving Vick another chance. Reid's sons were both imprisoned for their drug use. The Eagles coach welled up when he recounted to Price the expressions of gratitude he received from others willing to offer assistance to his sons.
-- Vick, who is reportedly $20 million in debt, said that he isn't destitute. “Mike ain’t broke,” he said. Vick earned $1.6 million from the Eagles last year and will make $5.25 this year. He could become eligible for free agency after the season.