Judge hands Vick a victory on bankruptcy

The $20 million plan includes the liquidation of assets such as houses, boats, and SUVs.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A judge approved yesterday Michael Vick's plan to repay creditors $20 million and emerge from bankruptcy, and the quarterback hustled out of court to prepare for his return to an NFL field later in the night with the Eagles.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro said that while Vick was "at the pinnacle of his profession," he had proved unable to manage his finances in the past, and ordered him to retain a financial planner as a condition of approval.

The reorganization was overwhelmingly approved in a ballot of creditors and by their representatives in court.

Vick, 29, left the court soon after with his fiancee, Kijafa Frink, to catch a flight back to Philadelphia and make his debut with the Eagles. He was released from federal custody on July 20 after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence for his role in running a dogfighting ring.

"I'm happy it's over," said Vick, who was beaming as he left the courthouse. "I can move on with my life. I think my lawyers did a great job. I commend the judge. I commend the creditors' committee - everybody. We finally got it all together. I'm just happy we can move forward."

The plan approved by Santoro was supported by all but one creditor, owed $13,000. It hinges on Vick's liquidating an estimated $9 million in assets, including houses, boats, and high-end sport-utility vehicles, and on his future NFL earnings.

Vick would not have to pay creditors during his first year with the Eagles. If he is successful, they would be paid in six years.

The player was briefly questioned by one of his attorneys to establish his employment.

"What do you for a living?" the lawyer, Paul Campsen, asked Vick.

"Quarterback," he replied in a hushed voice.

Most of the hearing was devoted to a thicket of financial details, a parade of lawyers to the bar, and detailed estimates of Vick's future earnings. As an Atlanta Falcon, Vick was once the highest-paid player in the NFL.

"Do you think the plan is feasible?" the judge asked Ira M. Spiegel, a financial adviser who had examined the reorganization plan and will advise Vick in the future.

"Yes, I do," he replied.

"Would it be pretty safe bet you'd be putting Mr. Vick on a budget?" the judge asked.

"Yes," Spiegel replied.

After paying creditors and investing his earnings, Vick would have annual living expenses of $300,000, Spiegel said.

Future payments would depend on Vick's salary, with creditors getting payments based on how much Vick earns. Vick estimated his football earnings over the next few years at $5 million annually, with the potential of earning $8 million in 2010 with incentives.

Creditors ranging from banks holding mortgages on Vick houses to his former team, the Falcons, endorsed Vick's plan to repay them. He also owes more than $600,000 in federal taxes.