If you were considered the #1 villain in America ... a dog fighting, law breaking bad guy ... would you pay $111K for an image makeover? Michael Vick sure did ... and it was the best money he ever spent.
TMZ has obtained court documents from Vick's bankruptcy case which show the NFL star paid top dollar for an elite crisis management team in the wake of his dog fighting scandal in 2007 ... and the documents read like a playbook on how to resurrect a shattered image.
Here's how Sitrick & Company executed the greatest image makeover in NFL history:
Step 1 -- "Develop media list and identify friendly media sources."
Translation: Who can we most easily manipulate?
And the media outlets they chose to communicate with -- the "Today" show, "60 Minutes," People Magazine, Newsweek and "Larry King Live."
Step 2 -- Put Vick through intense media training "aimed at regaining initiative in PR war."
Step 3 -- "Prepare list of sympathetic parties in media and community" ... hey, ya gotta know who's on your side.
Step 4 -- Knowing when to shut up. On July 31, 2007 Sitrick advised Vick's legal team on "need to avoid further interviews ahead of planned PR offensive."
Step 5 -- Execute. Vick appeared on "60 Minutes" on August 16. He then faced the media in a news conference on August 27 ... and hit it out of the park, accepting blame, accepting punishment and vowing to learn from the experience.
He appeared on "Larry King Live" later that day.
When Vick emerged from his 19 months in prison, his image had been repaired enough that the Philadelphia Eagles gave him a shot with the team. Two years after that, Vick signed a contract worth up to $100 MILLION.
In the end, Sitrick's services ran Vick a cool $111,317.13.
Best money he ever spent.
FIRED FROM ESPN
Allegedly Called Co-Host 'Uncle Tom'
8/13/2013 11:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Former NFL superstar Hugh Douglas has just been FIRED from his gig on an ESPN show in the wake of reports he called his co-host an "Uncle Tom."
Douglas -- a former Philadelphia Eagles defensive stud -- had co-hosted ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie" ... along with Michael Smith.
But according to several reports, Douglas and Smith got into a heated altercation at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Orlando last Tuesday ...with Douglas allegedly hurling the racially charged insult at Smith, who is black.
Douglas never confirmed the incident ... but ESPN had previously told media outlets they were "aware there was a disagreement" between the two men.
Moments ago, ESPN took action -- 86'ing Douglas from the network, effective immediately.
Douglas tweeted about the move -- saying, "I am very disappointed to be leaving ESPN and will have more to say about this situation and my future at the appropriate time."
Riley Cooper's Grandma
He Made His Racist Bed
... He's Gotta Sleep In It
8/3/2013 7:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
N-word hurling Philadelphia Eagles player Riley Cooper isn't getting any sympathy from his own grandma -- who tells TMZ, Cooper screwed up big time ... and it's his mess to clean up.
Riley's Grandma Betty didn't make excuses when we spoke to her ... saying, "[Riley] brought it upon himself and he has to deal with the consequences."
As we reported, Cooper has already taken leave from the Eagles to pursue counseling after his n-word threat at a recent Kenny Chesney concert -- when he said he would fight "every n***er" at the show.
Grandma says Riley was raised in a good household that never condoned racism of any kind -- so she's surprised by his behavior, especially because she says he's never gotten into any kind of trouble before.
That said, Grandma Betty is optimistic about Riley's future, telling us it's good he's nipping this problem in the bud now before it gets any worse.
Granny B, everybody!
Leaves Philadelphia Eagles
After N-Word Threat
8/2/2013 10:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper needs some serious n-word counseling ... so much so he's taken a leave from the team.
A rep for the Eagles was blunt and to the point: "Riley Cooper will be seeking counseling and we have excused him from all team activities."
The rep says Riley needs to understand how his racist threats -- to fight every n***er at the Kenny Chesney concert -- are hurtful.
The team is hedging over whether Cooper will be welcome back.
For his part, Riley says, "The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I’ve done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time."
White Player Apologizes
for N-word Threat [Update]
7/31/2013 2:10 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
2:54 PM PT -- The Eagles tell TMZ ... Cooper has been FINED for making the comments and "has accepted responsibility for his words and actions."
The team tells us, "This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society."
The Eagles did not specify the amount of the fine.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper -- who is white -- is begging for forgiveness after a video surfaced showing the 25-year-old threatening to fight "every n**ger" at a country music concert.
The video was shot June 9 during a Kenny Chesney concert in Philadelphia ... where a sleeveless Cooper turned to the camera and says, "I will jump that fence and fight every n**ger here.”
Now, after the video, which first appeared on CrossingBroad.com, began making the rounds on various websites, Cooper has released a statement saying, "I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize."
"I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
The Eagles had high hopes for Cooper going into the 2013 season -- and was expected to be a starter when the season kicks off in September.
It's unclear if this video will change those plans ...
Prison Made Me a
7/18/2013 2:40 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Michael Vick tells TMZ ... his involvement with a children's charity is not a publicity stunt to fix his image -- claiming he truly is a changed man ... thanks to his 2-year prison stint.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback just called in to "TMZ Live" to talk about his involvement with the Team Freedom Outreach -- a charity that recruits volunteers to play sports with children who are incarcerated.
During the conversation, Vick told us he's truly passionate about the cause -- and claims it's all because of an epiphany he had during his time in prison for running an illegal dog fighting ring.
"Sometimes it takes this ... for a person to go through certain hardships ... to realize what their purpose really is," Vick said.
"I think God placed it on my heart when I was incarcerated to come out and be the best person I can be and to help as many people as I can help."
As we previously reported, Vick is taking his role with the organization so seriously, he already went to D.C. and met with Rep. John Lewis in the hopes of helping more kids.
I'm Trying to Help Jailed Kids ... Through Sports
7/18/2013 8:08 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Michael Vick is currently in Washington D.C. -- meeting with a powerful congressman in an effort to help incarcerated children get their lives on track ... TMZ has learned.
The Philadelphia Eagles QB got together with Rep. John Lewis from Georgia to push Team Freedom Outreach -- a charity that recruits volunteers to play sports with children who are incarcerated.
Vick says he's passionate about TFO because, "Many of these children who are incarcerated receive no visitors."
He adds, "Team Freedom Outreach gives them positive mentorship. It shows these kids that somebody cares. It helps them make a plan."
Second chances -- something Vick knows all about.
Party Bus Accuser ADMITS
I Never Touched Her
6/26/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
NFL superstar LeSean McCoy believes he has a smoking gun that proves he NEVER physically assaulted a woman on a party bus back in 2012 -- a text message -- and TMZ has a copy of the digital evidence.
The Philadelphia Eagles running back just filed new documents in his legal war with "Mary Roe" -- a woman who sued McCoy claiming she was assaulted and badly injured on his party bus back in December after she objected to being sprayed with water.
In his legal response, McCoy included a text message that "Roe" -- aka Brandi -- allegedly sent to another woman in which the accuser states, "Lesean [sic] didn't touch me physically."
In the text, Brandi says she has bruises and a lump on her head from the incident -- but she needs witnesses to back up her allegations that McCoy ordered his bodyguard to rough her up.
The alleged text continues, "I'm trying to keep Leseans [sic] name out of this even if he encouraged his body guard initially at first."
"I know this isn't a pretty situation but females go thru things like this all the time and it gets brushed under the rug or thrown out. I have 2 other girls that I'm hoping will at least speak to my lawyer as well."
Brandi is suing both McCoy and a man she believes to be his bodyguard for more than $50k in damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and negligence.
McCoy claims the allegations are complete BS -- and insists the woman is simply trying to shake him down for some cash.
Denies Assault Allegations
I'm Being Extorted
5/14/2013 1:11 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
LeSean McCoy is adamant ... he NEVER assaulted a woman on a party bus back in December -- and claims his accuser is just trying to shake him down for some cash.
TMZ spoke with McCoy's lawyer, Andrew M. Smith, who tells us, "The allegations against LeSean McCoy are completely, unequivocally false."
Smith continues, "There are no criminal charges pending [against McCoy] and no probable cause was ever found."
As we previously reported, a woman using the alias "Mary Roe" filed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Eagles star ... claiming she was assaulted and badly injured on McCoy's party bus back in December after she objected to being sprayed with water.
Cops say ... when they interviewed the woman shortly after the incident, she had no visible injuries.
McCoy's lawyer says, "This is sadly an attempt to extract money and LeSean will vigorously defend any attempt to collect money through a personal injury claim."
Cops Say Accuser
Had No Visible Injuries
5/14/2013 12:20 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The woman who claims Eagles running back LeSean McCoy assaulted her on a party bus in December had no visible injuries when she met with cops on the night of the incident, cops tell TMZ.
New Jersey State Police Sergeant Brian Polite tells us ... officers did meet with a woman at a rest stop near the Jersey Turnpike on December 19, who claimed she had an altercation with a male on a party bus.
Sgt. Polite tells us ... during the initial meeting with the accuser, she never named McCoy as her attacker.
As we previously reported, the accuser -- using the alias "Mary Roe" -- filed a lawsuit against McCoy claiming she suffered major injuries to her head and back -- and bruises all over her body -- after McCoy and/or his bodyguard roughed her up and kicked her off the bus on December 19, 2012.
In her suit, Roe claims she got the boot because she resisted when McCoy tried to spray her with water while on the bus, which was heading back to Philly from an NYC nightclub.
But Sgt. Polite says ... when cops met with the accuser in the wake of the alleged incident, they did not observe ANY visible marks or injuries on her body.
Cops say the incident is still under investigation.
EAGLES STAR LeSEAN McCOY
PARTY BUS ASSAULT
5/14/2013 11:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
NFL superstar LeSean McCoy has been sued by a woman who claims the running back humiliated her on a party bus -- sprayed her with a beverage -- and then booted her from the ride on the side of the Jersey Turnpike.
According to the lawsuit filed by a woman using the alias "Mary Roe" ... the Philadelphia Eagles RB had invited 15 women to join him on a party bus that went from Philly to a NYC nightclub on December 18, 2012.
During the trip, the lawsuit alleges, McCoy, along with his bodyguard and a couple of other guys, began to spray some of the women with water.
Roe claims she protested the water spraying ... so McCoy ordered his bodyguard Big John to "get her."
In the suit, filed May 10 in Philadelphia, the woman claims McCoy and/or Big John proceeded to hit her in the face, causing her to fall to the ground.
While she was on the floor, the men allegedly physically restrained her and poured a beverage onto her hair, clothes and body.
And if things couldn't get worse ... the woman claims McCoy and Big John then forcibly ejected her from the party bus on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike.
But some of the women allegedly complained to McCoy about Roe getting the boot -- so she was snatched back up from the side of the road and placed back on the bus.
The woman claims she was taken to a nearby rest stop -- where the football player once again ditched her -- and continued on with his party trip.
Roe is now suing for more than $50,000 in damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and negligence. Roe says she suffered head trauma, a disc protrusion on her spine, bad sprains, contusions and bruises all over her body, and severe shock.
We reached out to McCoy's reps -- and the Eagles -- so far, no word back.
The Soup-er Bowl MVP Is...
4/24/2013 4:35 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Former Philadelphia Eagles QB and soup pitchman Donovan McNabb was put to the test -- when asked to name the best soup of all-time. Get ready ... for the first (and probably last) Soup-er Bowl!
Check out TMZ on TV -- click here to see your local listings!
Eagles' DeSean Jackson
Headed to L.A. ...
For Less than $2 Million!!
3/24/2013 6:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
DeSean Jackson's one of the top NFL players -- worth MILLIONS -- who can live anywhere in the world, and yet he chose to drop $1.65 million on a new crib ... IN THE VALLEY!!!!
Jackson -- who has a 5-year, $51-million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles -- purchased the 3,837-square-foot home in Tarzana, CA earlier this month .
Sources close to Jackson tell TMZ ... despite playing on the East Coast, Jackson's been renting a place in L.A. for years (he's from the area) ... and recently decided to upgrade to home-owner status.
As for the digs, it's worthy of the wide-receiver ... 4 bedrooms, 5 baths, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, guest house and giant backyard pool.
Perfect for those cool 100-degree Valley days. Enjoy the off-season, DeSean