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By wire services
Published December 24, 2004
LOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Michael Vick became the richest player in the league by agreeing to call Atlanta home for the next decade.
The Falcons' quarterback signed a 10-year, $130-million contract extension Thursday that guarantees him an NFL-record $37-million in bonuses.
"You know, making a commitment says a lot, not just to me, but to our team," Vick said with a smile. "It means a lot to me."
Vick's contract surpasses the $98-million deal Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning signed in March, although Manning's contract is for seven years. Manning was guaranteed $34.5-million in bonuses.
Falcons general manager Rich McKay and Vick's agent, Joel Segal, began negotiations more than two months ago. They reached an agreement in principle Monday.
"A lot of guys come into the league, they bounce around and never really find a home," Vick said. "But I'm very excited to know that I'll be here and have an opportunity to bring a Super Bowl to this city."
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2001, Vick has a 24-12-1 career record. He is 14-4 since returning from a broken ankle last year, and led the Falcons to just the third division title in franchise history.
Vick missed his second straight practice after injuring his throwing shoulder in last week's overtime win over Carolina. He needs 80 yards to break the single-season record for rushing by a quarterback, set by Chicago's Bobby Douglass in 1972.Dolphins wait on Saban
DAVIE - LSU coach Nick Saban kept the Dolphins on hold, still hesitant about making the leap to the NFL.
Saban, who has turned down other chances to join the pros, huddled at home in Baton Rouge, La., with his wife and agent to consider an offer he received Wednesday to coach the Dolphins. Saban told LSU athletic director Skip Bertman he might need until today to decide whether to take over one of the NFL's worst teams.
"He said he needs more time," Bertman said. "He needs to look at this more carefully."
Bertman dismissed reports that LSU made Saban a counteroffer. Saban already is the highest-paid coach in college football and in the first year of an $18.45-million, seven-year deal, but the Dolphins' offer is believed to exceed $4-million per year.
"We said all along it's not about money," Bertman said. "Nick does not want to renegotiate his contract. The question is: Does he stay here and continue to build, or does he take on a new challenge?"
PLAYOFF SCHEDULE: The AFC championship game will be played 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23, meaning a potentially frosty atmosphere in Pittsburgh or New England. The NFC title game will begin at 3 p.m. and will be televised by Fox, followed by the AFC contest on CBS. The playoffs begin Jan. 8 with a wild-card doubleheader on ABC at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The round continues on Jan. 9 with the AFC game at 1 p.m. and the NFC game at 4:30. The divisional playoffs breakdown has an AFC game at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, followed by the NFC game at 8 p.m. The next day, the NFC contest is at 1 p.m. and the AFC at 4:30. The Super Bowl will be Feb. 6 in Jacksonville.
CARDINALS: Safety Adrian Wilson received a $21-million, five-year contract extension, a move hailed by the team as evidence it is serious about building a winner under new coach Dennis Green.
STEELERS: Linebacker Kendrell Bell unexpectedly practiced, despite being listed as out for Sunday's game against the Ravens. Bell, the 2001 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, has been out since Nov. 21 with a sore groin and wasn't expected to play in the team's final two games.Packers (8-6) at Vikings (8-6)
COMMENT: This time, Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss secure a playoff spot
MILLS' PICK: Vikings 24, Packers 15
NICHOLAS' PICK: Vikings 24, Packers 12
[Last modified December 24, 2004, 00:23:15]