Thursday, August 30, 2007

Contrite Vick apologizes after entering guilty plea

Contrite Vick apologizes after entering guilty plea
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY

RICHMOND, Va. — In a court hearing that lasted just under 20 minutes Monday, Michael Vick entered a guilty plea to a conspiracy charge related to a federal dogfighting investigation that could send the Atlanta Falcons quarterback to prison for a year or more.

Judge Henry E. Hudson set the sentencing hearing for Dec. 10.

"What is your plea, sir, guilty or not guilty?" Hudson asked Vick.

"Guilty," Vick responded in the same court room where he entered a not guilt plea on July 26.

A contrite Vick then met with the media in a press conference and he apologized for not being honest with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and others.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Vick said, "and not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I've done.

"I'm totally responsible, and those things just didn't have to happen."

The quarterback also condemned dogfighting as "a terrible thing."

"What I did was very immature," said Vick, "so that means I need to grow up."

Under terms of the plea agreement, Vick's attorneys and prosecutors agree to a recommended sentencing guide line of 12-18 months in prison. The maximum possible penalty is five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

"Mr. Vick, I place a lot of weight on the government's recommendations, but I want to make sure you understand that I am not bound by this part of the plea agreement. Do you understand that?" said the judge.

"Yes, sir," said Vick, clad in a dark blue suit, a white shirt and a yellow tie.

Picketers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals gathered outside the courthouse, as did a throng of Vick supporters toting signs that read, "We Love Mike."

Vick supporters chanted, "We love Mike" as Vick exited the courthouse at 10:58 a.m. and was driven away in a gray SUV.

Vick, suspended indefinitely from the NFL on Friday, remained free on bond pending sentencing.

Also on Monday afternoon, Blank, despite expressing his disappointment with Vick, told a media conference, "We can not tell you today that Michael Vick is cut."

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