By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Michael Vick, the once dynamic NFL quarterback whose involvement in a dogfighting ring ended a stunning career in its prime, has agreed to come out of retirement to join the startup league Fan Controlled Football, a news release said Source Reuters on Friday with .
Vick, a former first overall draft pick who last qualified for a National Football League game in 2015, will make his debut on May 28, the final day of the regular season, according to the source, who said an official announcement expected next week.
41-year-old Vick has not yet been assigned a team.
Vick is the latest high-profile player to sign up for Fan Controlled Football, joining a group that also includes Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Terrell Owens and Johnny Manziel, whose much-touted NFL career fizzled after two seasons.
According to the source, Vick agreed to a comeback after seeing the success good friend Owens has had since signing with the league earlier this year.
Fan Controlled Football, which has doubled in size to eight teams for its second season this year, is a condensed 7-on-7 style of American football played on a 50-yard indoor field that acts as a real-life video game that fans allowed to name the pieces.
Vick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the first pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, making him the first black quarterback to be named the top pick, and he stunned fans with his breakaway running speed and powerful passing arm.
Vick, who was conspicuous for most of his six seasons with the Falcons in Atlanta, pleaded guilty in 2007 and apologized for his role in an illegal dog fighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels, for which he ultimately served nearly two years in prison.
Vick returned with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, where he served as a rarely used substitute but took on the starting role the next season and was at his best on his way to being named NFL Comeback Player of the Year and winning fourth Pro Bowl selection his career.
After five seasons with Philadelphia, Vick was a backup for the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers in his last two NFL seasons.
Vick officially retired in 2017 after rushing for 22,464 yards and 133 touchdowns in 13 NFL seasons and his 6,109 rushing yards in a career remains the most by a quarterback.
Fan Controlled Football’s seven-week regular season, followed by the playoffs, began in mid-April. All games will be played at a single facility in Atlanta.
Vick is expected to provide a further boost to Fan Controlled Football ratings, which five weeks into the season have surpassed all of last season’s viewership combined.
According to Fan Controlled Football, it has attracted over 12 million viewers this season on Twitch, Peacock, NBCLX, DAZN and fubo Sports Network.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)