Va. Tech, Beamer continue to support fallen son Vick
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The doors that lead to the large auditorium where Virginia Tech's football team meets are kept propped open these days, giving passers-by a clear view to what once appeared to be the Hokies' inner sanctum.
Outside, the words "Michael Vick Hall" on the wide open wooden doors are hardly detectable, and have been for weeks since his legal troubles became increasingly apparent.
While the goal of minimizing Vick's impact at Virginia Tech seems clear, in the offices where coach Frank Beamer and his assistants are preparing for their season opener on Saturday against East Carolina, the support for the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is unwavering.
"I thought Michael Vick took a big step yesterday," Beamer said Tuesday, speaking of Vick's statement of apology and regret that came minutes after he pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge in Richmond, possibly ending his career.
"I thought he was extremely sincere. I'm pulling for Michael Vick. I know how I know him, like him, think about him. I'm pulling for Michael Vick."
Beamer, who coached Vick for three seasons and whose team rode his dazzling skills to the Sugar Bowl national championship game in 2000, met with Vick at the NFL draft in April, around the same time Vick met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Vick admittedly lied to Goodell and Blank about the case.
"We'll keep the conversation and what was said between us," Beamer said when asked if Vick also had lied to him at their meeting in New York.
Beamer said he hasn't spoken with Vick since, and it's clear Vick's problems is not a favorite topic.
The Hokies already are in the midst of an intense week, preparing for the first game since a gunman killed 32 people and himself on the Virginia Tech campus.
The shootings happened nine days before local officials in Surry County raided a home Vick owned as part of a drug investigation, setting off what evolved into the dogfighting probe that has seen Vick and three associates plead guilty.
Each faces as much as five years in prison when sentenced later this year.
The NFL has suspended Vick indefinitely without pay. The Falcons intend to pursue the $22 million in bonus money he already received in a $130 million contract signed in 2004.
Several Hokies players saw the former Virginia Tech star on television Monday, either on his way into the federal courthouse greeted by protesters and supporters, on his way out to the same reception or struggling to express his sorrow on a podium later.
Linebacker Vince Hall said it was a scene players could learn from.
"You've always got to make the right decisions, and if you do wrong, you're going to pay for it and all you can do is serve your time for it and change," he said.
Vick's somber apology was a good and convincing beginning, Hall added.
"For him to come out and talk about it and [say] 'Yes, I did it and I'm sorry' and to apologize to the kids, that's the main thing," he said. "It's the kids that look up to him and once you say sorry to them, there's not much you can say after that."
Tailback Branden Ore, who spent a semester working in a warehouse when he was slacking academically and was told by his coaches to go home and evaluate how much football meant to him, has met Vick a few times and found him to be a good guy.
The lesson Vick is learning, though, came through loud and clear.
"I think anybody that's in that kind of position knows that just as quick as you get built up, they'll break you down. You've just got to be careful of what you're doing and who you are hanging with," the starting tailback said.
But, he added, he agreed Vick already has made a first step toward redemption.
"From the impression that I got, the speech was sincere. He didn't have it written down. That was straight from the heart, so I would say America is a forgiving country once you show people that you are really sincere about the mistakes that you made."
The lesson, wide receiver Justin Harper said, was much like the one the Hokies have been highlighting each day since the April 16 shootings brought tragedy to campus.
"You've got to value each day," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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VICK SENTENCED TO 23 MONTHS
Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and three years' probation for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Falcons quarterback is looking at a scheduled release of July 2009. Story
Update• GM: Falcons will attempt to trade Vick
• Lawyer: Vick might move to halfway house
• Former Vick estate fails to sell again
• Vick house fails to sell at auction
• Vick files for bankruptcy protection
• Prosecutor: Vick's Virginia trial can wait
• Vick ordered to repay Canadian bank $2.4 million
• Judge denies NFL motion to reverse Vick ruling
• Report: Vick not playing organized football in jail
• Report: Vick passes time with prison-yard football
• Vick's state dogfighting trial to begin June 27
• Munson: Vick yet to enter drug treatment
The sentence• Vick sent to Kansas to serve rest of sentence
• Vick asked judge for leniency before sentencing
• Vick sentenced to 23 months | Document (pdf)
• Poll: What do you think? | What they're saying
• Clayton: Sentence puts career in jeopardy
• Munson: Tough sentence by displeased judge
• Teammates show support at Falcons game
• Can Vick return to playing in NFL?
• Pasquarelli: No longer top of mind in Atlanta
• Last Vick co-defendant sentenced
• Podcasts : Cossack | Schlereth | Munson/Naqi | Pasquarelli
• Chat wrap: David Cornwell
Post Plea• NFL wants court to reverse Vick bonus ruling
• Victory for Vick: QB can keep $20 million bonus
• Fifth defendant in Vick case receives probation
• Vick's house for sale for $1.1M
• Some Falcons to visit Vick in prison
• PETA unveils new e-card
• Former Virginia estate fails to sell at auction
• Out of Falcons' sight, almost out of mind
• Judge's casework offers look at possible sentence
• Remaining dogs placed with rescue groups
• Source: Feds may push judge to up sentence
• NFLPA argues Vick should not lose roster bonus
• Vick co-defendants get 18, 21 months in prison
• Vick agrees to put up almost $1M for dogs' care
• Vick given April trial date on state charges
• Vick surrenders to begin serving sentence early
• Home at center of Vick dogfighting scandal sold
• Vick fires one of his lawyers in dogfighting case
• Man who sold Vick pit bull pleads guilty
• Man connected to Vick dogfight ring pleads guilty
• Third bank sues Vick, claims he defaulted on loan
• Arbiter: Falcons have right to reclaim bonuses
• PETA: Vick had class on animal cruelty
• Evaluations show 48 of Vick's dogs placeable
• Vick tests positive for marijuana
• Vick supporters turn out for town meeting
• Vick's apology notes fetch $10.2K at auction
Vick's Plea/NFL Suspension• Vick pleads guilty to federal dogfighting charge
• The plea (PDF) | Statement of facts (PDF)
• Vick's statement: Watch it | Read it
• Roger Cossack explains plea deal
• Poll: Vick should be banned
• Va. Tech, Beamer continue to support Vick
• Vick supporters drown out protesters
• NFL suspends Vick indefinitely | Goodell (PDF)
• Chris Mortensen on Vick's suspension
• Vick files plea agreement admitting to dogfighting
Indictment• Marbury's about-face: Vick 'is 100 percent wrong'
• National NAACP: Vick 'not a victim' | Audio
• Atlanta NAACP: Vick should be allowed to return
• Falcons come to terms with 'ex-teammate'
• Vick timeline | What they're saying
• Helyar: Even Atlanta turns against Vick
• Goodell: Vick not overshadowing season
• Vick co-defendant pleads guilty to charges
• Tony Taylor: Summary of Facts | Plea agreement
• Hometown residents stand by Vick
• Falcons had planned to suspend Vick
• Commish tells Vick to avoid camp
• Vick indicted | The indictment (pdf) | Civil arrest warrant (pdf)
Town Hall meeting• Town Hall chat wrap: Chadiha
Previous columns/analysis• Munson: Q&A on Vick reporting to prison early
• Munson: Looking at Judge Hudson
• Vick's high school learning lessons
• Bryant: Confounded by race issue
• Munson: Q&A about local indictment
• Munson: Next focus for Vick is length of sentence
• Schlabach: Vick an afterthought on VT campus
• Chadiha: Vick not running from truth
• Hill: Coverage means bigger issues ignored
• Wojciechowski: Pay attention to the fallen star
• Bryant: Vick's plea deal comes with baggage
• Bryant: In failing Vick, NFLPA fails itself
• Munson: Vick plea means surrender
• Forde: Vick's epic fall
• Pasquarelli: Major blow for Falcons
• Chadiha: Lots of lessons to be learned
• Wojciechowski: Punishment with teeth
• Easterbrook: Little sympathy?
• Clayton: Vick's NFL future might be bleak
• E-Ticket: A history of mistrust
• Chadiha: Vick's bad choices