Vick to be sentenced Dec. 10 after guilty plea
RICHMOND, Va. -- Michael Vick apologized to the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons on Monday for "using bad judgment and making bad decisions" and vowed to redeem himself after pleading guilty to a dogfighting charge.
In a statement before the media, Vick said he took full responsibility for his actions. He concluded by saying: "I will redeem myself. I have to."
Sentencing was set for Dec. 10 and Vick could be sent to prison for one to five years. Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL last week.
"First, I want to apologize, you know, for all the things that -- that I've done and that I have allowed to happen. I want to personally apologize to commissioner [Roger] Goodell, [owner] Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino, my Atlanta Falcons teammates, you know, for our -- for our previous discussions that we had. And I was not honest and forthright in our discussions, and, you know, I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least," Vick said.
"I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up."
Vick said he now has renounced dogfighting and has found religion as a result of the federal charges. "Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it," he said.
"I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player," Vick said.
"I take full responsibility for my actions I am totally responsible."
The plea by the suspended quarterback was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, who asked: "Are you entering the plea of guilty to a conspiracy charge because you are in fact guilty?"
I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player.
Vick replied, "Yes, sir."
Hudson emphasized he is not bound by sentencing guidelines and can impose the maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
"You're taking your chances here. You'll have to live with whatever decision I make," Hudson said.
In Atlanta, the Falcons said they would not cut Vick immediately because of salary-cap issues. The team intends to pursue the $22 million in bonus money that he already received in a $130 million contract signed in 2004.
"We cannot tell you today that Michael is cut from the team," Blank said. "Cutting him may feel better emotionally for us and many of our fans but it's not in the long-term best interest of our franchise."
Blank and general manager Rich McKay refused to say that Vick's career in Atlanta was over, though that is likely more a legal issue than an indicator of their future plans.
"We cannot undo what's been done," Blank said. "But we can and will recover from this."
A Falcons senior team official told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that as long as Blank is the owner of the team, Vick will not be back in a Falcons uniform.
The Falcons will receive a $6 million cap credit for Vick's salary this year since he's been suspended without pay. They are still on the hook for approximately $22 million in prorated bonus obligations spread out over this season and the next two.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Vick stands to lose approximately $100 million as a result of his conviction.
A source also told Mortensen that Goodell and the NFL's independent counsel, Eric Holder, plan to meet with Vick and his attorney, Billy Martin, before Vick is sentenced.
Martin also has communicated to the league that Vick is ready to cooperate fully and tell all to the NFL regarding his involvement in dogfighting.
The source says that this meeting could conclude Holder's investigation into the case.
Goodell also has told Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players' Association, that he will "have an open mind" about Vick's ultimate discipline from the league. The source said it would be a mistake to assume that Goodell will be extreme with Vick's jail sentence, saying anybody who is talking about a lifetime ban for Vick or even a three-year suspension is sadly mistaken.
Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, both members of the Falcons' board, attended the news conference at Blank's corporate headquarters.
In his written plea filed in federal court Friday, Vick admitted to 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.
Cutting him may feel better emotionally for us and many of our fans but it's not in the long-term best interest of our franchise.
The NFL suspended him indefinitely and without pay Friday after his plea agreement was filed. Merely associating with gamblers can trigger a lifetime ban under the league's personal conduct policy.
Federal prosecutors recommended 12-18 months in prison for Vick and co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips. Tony Taylor, the first defendant to plead guilty, was not involved in the conspiracy after 2004 and is not as culpable, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement.
"A first-time offender might well receive no jail time for this offense," Rosenberg said. "We thought, however, that the conduct in this conspiracy was heinous, cruel and inhumane."
The case began in late April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of Vick's cousin raided the former Virginia Tech star's rural Surry County property and seized dozens of dogs, some injured, and equipment commonly used in dogfighting.
Vick's plea came hours before the Falcons were scheduled to play an exhibition game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. It would mark the first chance for the team to see what effect Vick's case has on attendance at the Georgia Dome. Vick wears the biggest-selling jersey in team history and is given much credit for the team's 51 consecutive sellouts.
"We're putting the emotions, the shock, the disappointment, the anger and the once-held hope that this was not true behind us," Blank said. "I assure you we'll do all we possibly can to make this season a success."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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