FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Ryan Quigley enjoyed a solid first season in the NFL last year, making $405,000 and showing he was the ideal directional punter for the Jets' scheme. But he hasn't arrived quite yet, evidenced by the fact that he is currently living in the house of teammate Chris Pantale and sleeping in the bedroom of the tight end's sister, who is away at college.
So when quarterback Michael Vick, who signed with the Jets this offseason, offered $10,000 for Quigley's No. 1 jersey, Quigley's immediate thoughts turned to being able to travel or buy clothes or possibly rent an apartment near the team's facility with that money. But then his thoughts quickly changed to using that money to help his hometown.
Vick had worn No. 7 at previous stops with the Falcons and Eagles but current Jets quarterback Geno Smith wears No. 7, and Vick tentatively chose No. 8 last week. Last Friday, Vick approached Quigley for a second time about the possibility of getting the No. 1 jersey. While the punter briefly thought about how $10,000 could benefit his life, especially since he will have to vacate the Pantale household in a few days when his teammate's sister returns from college, his thoughts quickly turned toward doing something for others.
So Quigley, who is slated to make $495,000 in 2014, said he wanted the money, but for charity. A native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., he asked if Vick would donate to Teen Angel of North Myrtle Beach, a charity that supports homeless teenagers, and to the Boys and Girls Club of New York. He didn't want to see a penny, didn't want a dinner as part of the deal. Everything would go to helping others.
“Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money, especially for a guy like me early in my career. For a second, I thought that, but then I thought that I can do some good with it. You can give back in so many ways and money is one way,” Quigley said.
“It was one of those things – I talked with my mom and my agent. I didn't even second-guess it. It felt right. It came out of nowhere. Originally Vick chose the No. 8. We talked before that he might want my number and I listened to it. Then he chose No. 8 and I had this idea in my head from the first time we talked two weeks ago. I had this idea of giving back and using this money for good. Then he comes back and I thought it was all over with. He said he really wanted that number.
"When I presented him with the idea of the money not going to myself but giving back to my hometown and half to the New York area, it was an easy decision for me, it really was.”
According to Quigley, Vick got excited about the idea of giving the money to charity and said, “Oh of course, that's awesome!” There was really no negotiation, Quigley said.
Quigley is a young player set to enter his second season in the NFL and while the contract is good, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. The temptation was there to take care of his personal needs with the money. Not a single person would have blamed him for pocketing the cash and moving out of his teammate's place. But he said the money went where it belongs – to those who truly need it.
“Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money,” Quigley said. “I hope it helps a lot of people.”