Monday, April 7, 2008
In letters to Blank, jailed Vick says he's staying in shape
ESPN.com news services
When they choose sides for football games in the yard at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., Michael Vick is the popular pick.
Twice for the same game, it seems.
In an interview with the New York Daily News posted on their Web site on Monday, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Vick is playing ball in prison to keep his body in shape, his arm limber and to pass the time.
"Apparently, there was a prison football team and he played quarterback for both sides," Blank told the Daily News.
The suspended Falcons quarterback is serving a 23-month prison term at Leavenworth's minimum security satellite prison camp after pleading guilty last August to a federal dogfighting conspiracy. Vick, who was sentenced in December, is projected to be released in July 2009.
Blank, who signed Vick to a 10-year, $130 million contract in 2004, has been communicating with Vick through letters, which Vick initiated. The quarterback has written that he is making 12 cents an hour washing pots and pans and playing a lot of football.
"He's written me a couple of times," Blank told the Daily News. "I've written him back, he's stayed in touch."
Blank also said Kevin Winston, the Falcons' senior director of player development, has visited Vick on several occasions. Blank told the newspaper he has no such plans, although it's evident he still has a soft spot for his exiled quarterback.
"I just try to be supportive and as understanding as I can be," Blank told the Daily News. "He talks about the process he is going through and what he has learned, the lessons of life, how he's going to come out a different person.
"He's sorry he has affected so many people in a negative way -- the league, our club, our fans. He feels awful about that. The letters sound quite sincere to me. From a mental standpoint, he sounds good."
Vick will go to trial on state dogfighting charges in Virginia on June 27.