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Remorseful Vick pleads case to public

Remorseful Vick pleads case to public

First, Michael Vick apologized to all the people he lied to. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Coach Bobby Petrino. His teammates.
"I was not honest and forthright in our discussions," the star quarterback said on Monday, somber and deliberate and not speaking from notes.
Then he apologized to "all the young kids out there for my immature acts."
"I need to grow up," he added.
And so began a public act of contrition from Vick, who pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting charge and then stood behind a podium to say his job now was "bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player."
There he was, a quarterback so deft and nimble he pulled off any number of amazing scrambles on the field. Now he was scrambling to save himself and his football future because of his role in a gruesome dogfighting ring.
'Full responsibility'
Saying he was speaking "from the heart," Vick said he took full responsibility for his actions.
"Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it," he said.
Acceptance of responsibility is one of the factors U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson will consider in handing down Vick's sentence on December 10. The federal sentencing guideline range is projected at a year to 18 months, but Hudson can impose up to the five-year maximum.
Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after his written plea agreement was filed in court on Friday.
Going after the money
In Atlanta, the Falcons said they would not cut Vick immediately because of salary-cap issues. The team intends to pursue the US$22 million in bonus money that he already received in a US$130 million contract signed in 2004.
"Cutting him today may feel better emotionally for us and many of our fans," Blanks said, "but it's not in the long-term best interests of our franchise."
Vick, who took no questions after his first public statement about the dogfighting ring, said little in court. With family members, including his brother and mother, watching from the front row of the packed courtroom, Vick stood flanked by two of his five lawyers and softly answered "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" to Hudson's questions.
The plea was accepted by Hudson, who asked: "Are you entering the plea of guilty to a conspiracy charge because you are in fact guilty?"
Vick answered yes, and Hudson emphasized his broad latitude in sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said a first-time offender ordinarily might receive no jail time for the dogfighting conspiracy.
"We thought, however, that the conduct in this conspiracy was heinous, cruel and inhumane," he said.
Blank and general manager Rich McKay refused to say whether Vick would ever play for the Falcons again, though their reluctance to cut ties with the quarterback is related more to complicated legal issues than any willingness to take him back.
"We realize that this situation has tarnished our franchise," Blank said. "We've heard from fans who are embarrassed to wear the No. 7 jersey now. We cannot undo what's been done. But we can and we will recover from this."
In his written plea, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings, but merely associating with gambling can result in a lifetime ban under the league's personal conduct policy.
Three Vick co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty said Vick bankrolled the enterprise, and two of them said Vick participated in executing dogs that were not vicious enough in testing. The three had agreed to testify against Vick had the case gone to trial.
The case began in late April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of Vick's cousin raided his rural Surry County property and seized dozens of dogs, some injured, and equipment commonly used in dogfighting.
A federal indictment issued in July charged Vick, Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor with an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. Vick initially denied any involvement, and all four men pleaded innocent. Taylor was the first to change his plea to guilty; Phillips and Peace soon followed.
The gruesome details outlined in the indictment - dogs were hanged, drowned and electrocuted - fueled a public backlash against Vick and cost him several lucrative endorsement deals, even before he agreed to plead guilty.


Updated : 2020-12-05 05:17 GMT+08:00