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Trading an NFL career for prison life

Recently, former NFL start Michael Vick filed for bankruptcy while sitting in a Kansas prison. In 2006, Vick made almost $15 million. Now he makes next to nothing working in prison. He bankruptcy filing shows $16 million in assets, but over $20 million owed to creditors. Vick wasted a whopping $18 million over two years, and forensic accountants had to be hired to find out just where all the money went.

What did with the money: Invested in bad business deals like a car rental company, a liquor store, and a restaurant, hired a multitude of financial advisers, gave money away to family members, bought multiple houses and cars, gave extravagant gifts to others, and wrote out lots of checks to "cash." Among the things he has lost: homes, farms, yachts, a bunch of vehicles, and a race horse. The Atlanta Falcons want millions of dollars back from him, and the taxing authorities want $1 million from him for unpaid taxes and interest.

So was it all worth it? Was it worth throwing away a lucrative career to torture some dogs for sport? I suspect not. Vick intends to play football when he gets out of prison, with his release scheduled for July 20. He has told the bankruptcy court he thinks he can still make a lot of money as an NFL quarterback. I'm not sure there's any team out there willing to take a chance on him. He hasn't played in a long time, and may not be physically ready. Even if he is, what team wants the negative reaction from fans for bringing him on?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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