Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who rose to stardom as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, will be an offensive coordinator for Atlanta's Alliance of American Football team.
The Alliance of American Football, the professional football league that is scheduled to debut next February, announced Wednesday morning that it will have a team in Atlanta that will play at Georgia State Stadium.
"I've always had a passion for teaching, a passion for coaching," Vick said at a news conference on Wednesday morning in Atlanta. "When Brad called me about this opportunity, I felt like it was obviously something I couldn't pass up."
Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress will assume that role with the Atlanta team.
Childress, 61, got to know Vick last summer when Vick was a coaching intern for the Kansas City Chiefs before leaving to join Fox Sports as an analyst. Childress, who was the assistant head coach to Andy Reid, left the Chiefs when the team's season ended in January. He then joined former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy in Chicago, helping with his transition to head coach of the Bears.
Vick was asked by reporters Wednesday what he learned from working with the Chiefs.
"To get the best our your players, the coaches have to be at their best as well," he said, according to WSB-TV. "It was a grind, and I respected it. If I had that opportunity to stay, I probably would have. But it came around full circle, and I'm just thankful for this opportunity. Looking forward to get going."
Vick won't have full control of the offense from the beginning.
"This is his team," Vick said of Childress. "I'm just a guy here to help players develop. Obviously to dive into the offense and make suggestions, be a crutch for Coach, but we're going to follow his lead. When he thinks I'm ready I'll graduate to the next level along with everybody else."
It has been quite the comeback for Vick, who was an outcast after he spent 18 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. After his release, he played seven more seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, ending his playing career in 2015.
Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, saying that he owed $17.6 million to creditors. Vick paid back $17.4 million of it. Not having faith that Vick would do so, the Falcons sold the $6.5 million he owed them to a bank at a discount.
The ill will between Vick and the Falcons has since been pushed aside. In June, the team honored Vick, who was named to three Pro Bowls during his six seasons (2001-06) in Atlanta, where he threw for 71 touchdowns on 11,505 yards passing. He also became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Vick acknowledges that it can be difficult coaching when you were a high-performing player.
"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "Even when I'm coaching kids at football camps, ages 11-17, I'm very strict in regards to the learning curve. Every guy is different, and I have to understand that. Can't be as hard or combative with certain guys as I would like, but it's all about being patient. My coaches were very patient with me. And I did the hard work. And as long as that goes hand in hand, we can see eye to eye, and we'll develop good football players."
The Alliance of American Football was announced last month by Charlie Ebersol, director of the 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL and son of former NBC sports chief executive Dick Ebersol. ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Bill Polian is a co-founder of the league.
Atlanta is the second city of eight to be announced. Earlier this month, the league announced that the first team would play in Orlando and would be coached by Steve Spurrier.
Rules for the league include no kickoffs, required two-point conversions after touchdowns, limited replays and no television timeouts. Two games in the 10-game season will air on CBS, with the rest airing on CBS Sports Network and the league's app.
Other former NFL players involved in guiding the league include Justin Tuck, Jared Allen, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward.