Vick’s $62-Million Deal Richest for NFL Rookie

From Staff and Wire Reports

Quarterback Michael Vick, the top pick in the NFL draft, signed a six-year, $62-million contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday, the richest deal for a rookie in league history.

Vick is guaranteed $15.3 million through the first three years, including a $3-million signing bonus.

Chris Chandler, who remains the Falcons’ No. 1 quarterback, agreed to restructure his contract to fit Vick’s deal under the salary cap. General Manager Harold Richardson said the Falcons would probably have about $400,000 left to spend after signing their remaining rookies.

The negotiations with Vick were a formality after the Falcons traded with the San Diego Chargers for the top pick a day before the draft. Vick’s agents had already discussed their terms with the Chargers, who weren’t willing to meet the price. The Falcons were.


The Washington Redskins renounced their rights to Skip Hicks by withdrawing their contract offer and making the former UCLA running back an unrestricted free agent. Hicks’ release came as the Redskins confirmed the signing of free-agent fullback Donnell Bennett, who agreed to a one-year, $477,000 contract Friday. . . . The New Orleans Saints want a new stadium by the 2006 season and would commit to staying in New Orleans for at least the next 25 years if they get it, the team said in a statement. . . . The Oakland Raiders re-signed free-agent linebacker William Thomas. . . . Kicker Jose Cortez and running back Saladin McCullough, members of the XFL champion Los Angeles Xtreme, were signed by the San Francisco 49ers.


Heavyweight David Tua filed papers in U.S. District Court in New Jersey in an attempt to prevent the International Boxing Federation from sanctioning an immediate rematch between Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis.

Rahman won the IBF and World Boxing Council heavyweight crowns by knocking out Lewis in the fifth round of their April 28 title match in South Africa.

Tua is asking the court to enforce an IBF rule he says prohibits rematch clauses in contracts for championship fights.

Tua’s legal action is similar to one filed last week against the WBC by representatives of Mike Tyson, who claim WBC rules prohibit agreements for immediate rematches.

Rahman is leaning toward a rematch with Lewis, but Tyson’s handlers keep upping the ante in their bid for a title shot. The Tyson offer is up to about $18 million.

Former boxing champion Dave Hilton Jr. was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting two teenage sisters. Hilton, who was stripped last week of the super-middleweight title he won in December, was convicted in Montreal of all nine counts of sex-related offenses. . . . A police investigation into Dale Earnhardt’s death might be hindered by a court order preventing access to autopsy photos of the racing legend. Police in Daytona Beach, Fla., may have to go to court to get the photos, which were taken by the Volusia County’s Medical Examiner’s Office. . . . Jeremiah Pharms, a former University of Washington linebacker and Cleveland Brown draft pick, pleaded not guilty in Seattle to a first-degree robbery charge in the pistol-whipping and shooting of an accused drug dealer. . . . Philadelphia Eagle running back Thomas Hamner failed to appear in court in Voorhees, N.J., on animal cruelty charges and is being sought by law enforcement authorities, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said. Hamner, of Voorhees, allegedly beat his pit bull March 28 and April 4, eyewitnesses told the SPCA.



Jennifer Capriati struggled to defeat Jelena Dokic, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, and Venus Williams rolled to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Karina Habsudova in the German Open tennis tournament at Berlin. . . . Defending champion Monica Seles pulled out of the women’s Italian Open because of a foot injury. . . . Swiss teenager Roger Federer upset Marat Safin of Russia, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), to advance to the third round of the Italian Open at Rome.

Hernan Gomez, Ecuador’s national soccer coach, was reported in stable condition after being shot in the leg in a hotel restaurant in the coastal city of Guayaquil on Tuesday night. The attack allegedly was to even the score for excluding ex-President Abdala Bucaram’s son from Ecuador’s under-20 team.

The sports industry’s economic impact on Southern California has increased by 34.5% in the last half-decade, according to a study released by the UCLA Anderson School of Management. . . . Donna Caponi, who had 24 tour victories from 1969-81, was elected to the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame as the second golfer nominated in the veteran’s category.


The Sparks cut two players and added another, putting their roster at 16 as they prepare for their exhibition opener.

Beth Record, a fourth-round draft pick from Syracuse, and free agent Melissa Sanford were cut. The Sparks, who play the New York Liberty on Saturday night at Long Beach State, added free-agent wing Abby Garcheck.

Trenton Hassell of Austin Peay, the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year, said he will submit his name for the NBA draft. . . . Utah basketball Coach Rick Majerus, who missed most of last season because of health problems and his mother having cancer, rejoined the Utes as they practiced for an overseas trip.



Henry “Smokey” Yunick, one of the key innovators from stock car racing’s early days, died of leukemia in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was 77. (See story, B10.)