CNN, August 22, 2007
The head of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP said Wednesday that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has made mistakes but that they should not cost him his football career with the NFL.
Vick is expected to plead guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges in an illegal dogfighting operation.
R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said his organization does not condone dogfighting or any other illegal activity, but he told reporters that Vick should be given a chance to redeem himself.
White said he believes Vick will cut a deal rather than roll the dice on a trial and take a chance on being found guilty, but “whatever he’s done wrongly, he needs to pay for it.
White also said he didn’t understand the uproar over dogfighting, when hunting deer and other animals is perfectly acceptable.
He urged the National Football League, the Atlanta Falcons and Vick’s commercial sponsors not to dump the troubled athlete.
“We feel that whatever the courts demand as a punishment for what he has done, once he has paid his debt to society, then he should be treated like any other person in the NFL,” White said.
Sources close to the case have said federal prosecutors offered to recommend an 18- to 36-month prison sentence for the suspended star quarterback for his alleged role in the dogfighting operation. Vick’s attorneys were trying to reduce that to less than a year.
Vick’s three co-defendants in the dogfighting case already accepted agreements to plead guilty in exchange for reduced sentences.
Court documents released last week showed that two of Vick’s alleged partners said he helped kill dogs that didn’t fight well and that the three men “executed approximately eight dogs” in ways that included hanging and drowning.
The dogs were killed because they fared poorly in “testing” sessions in April at Vick’s property in Virginia, where the dog fighting venture was based, according to documents released following guilty pleas from two co-defendants—Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta.