Shortly after suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick plead guilty to illegal dogfighting charges and held a press conference to apologize for his actions, team owner Arthur Blank said it was not in the organization’s best long-term interests to cut the convicted star from the squad.
"We cannot tell you today that Michael is cut from the team," Blank said during a press conference Monday. "Cutting him today may feel better emotionally for us and many of our fans. But it’s not in the long-term best interests of our franchise."
The announcement followed a long morning in Richmond, Va. that began with Vick’s plea of guilty to a federal dogfighting charge. The athlete’s family members, including his brother and mother Brenda Vick, sat in the front row of the packed courtroom as the suspended NFL star stood flanked by two of his five lawyers.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted Vick’s guilty plea before asking: "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. "You’re taking your chances here. You’ll have to live with whatever decision I make," he said.
Prosecutors have proposed a 12- to 18-month prison term, however, Hudson underscored that he is not bound by sentencing guidelines or the recommendations of prosecutors and can impose the maximum sentence.
After the court appearance, Vick shuttled down to the nearby Omni Hotel and addressed media for the first time since he was charged.
"I made a mistake of using bad judgment and making bad decisions,” he told assembled reporters. “Those things just can’t happen. Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I didn’t reject it."
He singled out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Blank, coach Bobby Petrino and his teammates for personal apologies, saying "I was not honest and forthright in our discussions."
He also apologized to "all the young kids out there for my immature acts and what I did — and what I did was very immature. So that means I need to grow up. …I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player."
Meanwhile, 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.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution crunched the numbers and determined that Vick stands to lose well over $100 million because of the guilty plea. Should the Falcons decide to terminate his contract, the QB would lose $71 million in salary over the next seven years, the paper reports.
He could also lose as much as $50 million in endorsement money over the next decade, according to an estimate by the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.
His legal fees are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not higher, legal experts say – and he faces a possible fine of up to $250,000.
MICHAEL VICK’S STATEMENT:
Athlete says he’s found Jesus; vows to “redeem” himself; offers “deepest apologies” for his actions.
Here’s the full text of Michael Vick’s statement during a press conference held just after 11:30 at Richmond’s Omni Hotel on August 27, 2007:
"For most of my life, I’ve been a football player, not a public speaker. So, I really don’t know how to say what I really want to say. I understand it’s not important as far as what you say, but how you say things. So, I take this opportunity just to speak from the heart.
First I want to apologize for all the things that I’ve done and that I’ve allowed to happen. I want to personally apologize to Commissioner Goodell, Arthur Blank, Coach Bobby Petrino and my Atlanta Falcon teammates for our previous discussions we had. I was not honest and forthright with those previous discussions. I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself, to say the least.
I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts. What I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up.
I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to better Michael Vick the person, not the football player. I take full responsibility for my actions. Not for one second would I sit right her and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I’ve done. I’m totally responsible. Those things did not have to happen.
I feel like we all make mistakes. Just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions. And those things just can’t happen. Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I didn’t reject it.
I’m upset with myself and through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and I just turned my life over to God. I think that’s the right thing to do as of right now.
Like I said, for this entire situation I never pointed the finger at anybody else. I accepted responsibility for my actions and what I did. And now I have to pay the consequences for it. But, in a sense, I think it’ll help me out a lot as a person. I got a lot to think about in the next year or so.
I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out therein the world who was affected by this whole situation. If I’m more disappointed in myself than anything it’s because of all the young people, young kids that I let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model.
I have to go through this and put myself in this situation. I hope that every young kid in the world watching this interview right now who’s been following the case would use me as an example – to use better judgment and make better decisions.
Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. I will redeem myself. I have to. I got a lot of down time, time to think about my actions and what I’ve done. And how to make Michael Vick a better person. Thank you."
Reprinted with permission: