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Michael Vick, the eleven dynamic NFL quarterback whose involvement in a dogfighting ring put a breathtaking career on pause at his prime, has agreed to retire to join the startup league Fan Controlled Football, a source told Reuters Friday.
Vick, who was No. 1 in the NFL Draft in 2001 and last fit for an NFL game in 2015, will make his debut on May 28, the last day of the regular season, according to the source, who said an official announcement expected next week.
The 41-year-old has not yet been linked with a team.
Vick is the latest high-profile player to join Fan Controlled Football, joining a group that includes Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens and Johnny Manziel, whose highly hyped NFL career ran out after two seasons.
According to the source, Vick agreed to a comeback after seeing the success that good friend Owens has had since signing with the league this year.
Fan Controlled Football, which this year doubled in size to eight teams for its second season, is a condensed 7-on-7 style of American football played on a 50-yard indoor court and serves as a true video game that allows fans to call the plays.
Vick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the first pick of the 2001 draft, making him the first black quarterback to be taken with the top pick, and he continued to dazzle fans with his fast running speed and powerful passing arm.
Vick, who was unique in Atlanta for most of his six seasons with the Falcons, pleaded guilty in 2007 and apologized for his role in an illegal dogfighting company known as Bad Newz Kennels, which eventually caused him to spend nearly two years in prison.
Vick returned in 2009 with the Philadelphia Eagles, serving as a rarely used backup, but then took over the starting role next season as he was at his best on his way to being named NFL Comeback Player of the Year and winning the fourth Pro Bowl selection of his career.
After five seasons with Philadelphia, Vick continued to be the backup for the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers in what turned out to be his last two NFL seasons.
Vick officially retired in 2017 after passing 22,464 yards and 133 touchdowns over 13 NFL seasons, and his 6,109 rushing yards in his career remain the most of a quarterback.
Fan-controlled football’s seven-week regular season, which will be followed by playoffs, started in mid-April. All games are held at a single Atlanta facility.
Vick is expected to give a further boost to the fan-controlled football score, which five weeks into the season has surpassed the entire number of viewers last season combined.
According to Fan Controlled Football, it has attracted over 12 million viewers across Twitch, Peacock, NBCLX, DAZN and the fubo Sports Network this season.