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Monday, August 3, 2009
Vick celebration postponed

Associated Press

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Michael Vick's hometown celebration was postponed Monday because of a conflict, an organizer said.

The "Michael Vick Community Celebration" scheduled for Saturday will be held later because the job-hunting former NFL quarterback has an event that day in Atlanta with the Humane Society of the United States, organizer Andrew Shannon said. Vick informed him of the conflict, he said.

A spokesman for the Humane Society did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press. Shannon did not know the nature of the Atlanta event or whether it was open to the public.

Vick has been conditionally reinstated in the NFL after completing a 23-month federal sentence for running a dogfighting ring. The Newport News celebration was to be his first announced public event since his freedom.

Shannon, president of the Peninsula chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said organizers were committed to celebrating Vick's return to the community and would not be swayed by negative public opinion.

After the event was publicized late Friday, Shannon said he received calls early Saturday from supporters and "from people who love animals" who were critical of the celebration.

"We want to say as an organization we're not intimidated and we won't waver in our support of Michael Vick," Shannon said. "We believe in forgiveness and we believe in redemption so we believe that Mr. Vick should be able to move forward with his life and make a livelihood."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said Vick can sign with a team and begin playing by week six of the NFL season.

Twenty-six NFL teams have said they're not interested in signing the 29-year-old, with the remaining six declining to comment or not ruling him out.