Michael Vick has a new job and is playing football again. The money is not quite the same and the records of the players are a bit different, too.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been communicating by letter with Vick, who is at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., incarcerated at the facility’s minimum security satellite prison camp.
Blank told the Daily News that Vick writes that he is washing pots and pans for 12 cents an hour. He was sentenced to 23 months in December after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges.
And in a scene straight out of the Longest Yard, Blank says Vick is playing football at Leavenworth. That’s one way to pass his time and keep his arm loose. He’s likely the first player picked when the inmates are choosing up sides or the guards are choosing up sides for them. Vick’s sprinter speed surely comes in handy just in case a dog-loving inmate thinks it’s cool to sack an NFL quarterback and break his shoulder.
“He is staying in shape,” Blank told The News. “Apparently, there was a prison football team and he played quarterback for both sides.”
That’s only fair.
Blank, a Flushing product, says Vick wrote to him first and they’ve now opened a dialogue by mail. He also says that Kevin Winston, the Falcons’ senior director of player development, has visited Vick several times in prison. Blank says he has no plans to visit Vick.
“He’s written me a couple of times,” Blank said. “I’ve written him back, he’s stayed in touch.”
Vick’s life has taken quite a nosedive from his days as a superstar quarterback. He can be comforted financially by Judge David Doty’s ruling in Minneapolis in February that he can keep $16.25 million of the $20 million in bonus money the Falcons were trying to recoup. The NFL is challenging the ruling.
Even if Blank feels betrayed by Vick, whom he signed to a 10-year, $130 million contract in 2004, he still clearly has a place in his heart for him, if not on his team.
“I just try to be supportive and as understanding as I can be,” Blank said. “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.”
What does he write to Vick?
“I told Michael I’ll do whatever I can to be helpful to him personally. Nothing to do with the Atlanta Falcons,” Blank said. “He’s a human being and I would like to reach out and if I can be productive to him in some way, I would be happy to do that.