RICHMOND, Va. – Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison Monday for running a “cruel and inhumane” dogfighting ring and lying about it. The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback could have been sentenced up to five years by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Vick, who turned himself in Nov. 19 in anticipation of his sentence, was wearing a black-and-white striped prison suit.
After Vick apologized to the court and his family, Hudson told him: “You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you.” “Yes, sir,” Vick answered. The 27-year-old player acknowledged using “poor judgment” and added, “I’m willing to deal with the consequences and accept responsibility for my actions.” Although there is no parole in the federal system, rules governing time off for good behaviour could reduce Vick’s prison stay by about three months, resulting in a summer 2009 release.
“You were instrumental in promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity,” Hudson told Vick. Before the hearing, Michael Vick’s brother, Marcus Vick, sat with his right arm around their mother, comforting her as she buried her head in her hands and wept. Vick was suspended without pay by the NFL and lost all his lucrative endorsement deals. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked after Monday’s ruling if Vick should play again.
“That’s a determination we’ll make later on,” he told The Associated Press from a legislative hearing in Austin, Texas. “As I said earlier when we suspended him indefinitely, we would evaluate that when the legal process was closed.”