After Michael Vick’s frenzied first couple of hours at home — two probation officers stopped by 90 minutes after he arrived, and one of his attorneys briefly addressed the media horde that was camped out in the cul-de-sac — things seemed to settle down outside the house.
The media ranks thinned out, and the curious onlookers who had lingered into the early morning hours hoping to get a glimpse of the suspended NFL star were long gone. Inside, Vick was reunited with his family.
“He is obviously delighted to be home,” his Virginia-based attorney, Lawrence Woodward, told reporters.
Woodward said the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback remains a federal inmate as he serves two months of home confinement to complete his 23-month sentence for a dogfighting conspiracy, and he cannot speak to the media without permission from the Bureau of Prisons. Efforts to get permission are under way, he said.
Vick remained mostly out of sight, arriving early Thursday morning in a sport utility vehicle with blackout curtains, the end of a 1,200-mile, 28-hour journey from his federal prison camp in Leavenworth, Kan.
The SUV, leading a four-vehicle caravan carrying a security team and others, cruised directly into a side garage. Later, Vick emerged only briefly, accompanied by a probation officer on the deck behind the five-bedroom house as they tested the electronic monitor Vick will wear for two months.
Woodward said Vick’s first meeting with probation officers went well. Vick will have to check in periodically with probation, perhaps as early as Friday. He also will soon start his $10-an-hour job as a construction laborer — a condition of his probation.
He’s scheduled to be released from federal custody on July 20, then faces three more years of supervised probation.
There were no signs welcoming the fallen star back to the home he will share with his fiancée, Kijafa Frink, and his children. Neighbors seemed relieved that the gathering wasn’t larger.
Doug Walter, who lives two doors away, said he was pleasantly surprised when he got home from work to find only media on the street, and not the “radical element” he feared.
A criminal defense attorney and self-described dog lover, Walter said he cringed at some of the details of violence against animals that came out in the case, but also believes that Vick deserves a second chance at football and hopes that he wins reinstatement to the NFL.
“I think that he has paid the penalty — a rather steep penalty — which our system deemed appropriate, and I think he should be allowed to move on with his life,” Walter said.
Vick’s ultimate goal is to convince NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that he is genuinely sorry for his crime and that he is ready to live a different life. Goodell has said those are the main factors that will guide his decision on whether to lift Vick’s indefinite suspension.
If Vick is reinstated by Goodell, one team he won’t get a shot with is Jacksonville. Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said Thursday that he is “not interested” in Vick.
“It goes beyond, ‘Has he paid his debt to society?’ Because I think that from a legal standpoint and financially and personally, he has,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Wednesday at the NFL owners meeting in Florida.
Part of Vick’s problem was the company he kept, Blank said, and weeding out the bad influences and associating with people who have his best interests at heart will be a key to redemption and a possible return to the NFL.
“There’s the expression, ‘You are what you eat.’ To some extent, you are who you hang with, too, and that does have an effect on lives for all of us,” he said.
On Thursday, tight end Alge Crumpler spoke at length about Vick after the Tennessee Titans’ workout.
“I honestly feel like Michael, without having played the last two seasons, is better than probably a third of the quarterbacks taking center right now in the National Football League,” said Crumpler, who visited Vick in prison and wrote him regularly. “One, he’ll sell tickets. Two, he’ll bring a lot of excitement. And three, if given the opportunity t
an offensive coordinator more than three or four years, he’ll be successful.”
Vick has said he will partner with the Humane Society of the United States in assisting the animal rights group in a program to eradicate dogfighting among urban teens.
Billy Martin, one of Vick’s attorneys, said Wednesday that his client wanted to work with the Humane Society because “they were probably one of the harshest critics [of Vick] pre-indictment.”
Martin added that it’s time for Vick to stop talking about what his plans are. “No more words. Now it’s time for Mike’s deeds to speak for themselves,” Martin said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Vick doesn’t deserve that chance until he passes psychological tests proving he is capable of feeling genuine remorse.
“Our position would be the opportunity to play in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” PETA spokesman Dan Shannon said.
Said Crumpler: “I definitely support his efforts at re-entering society and hope the public understands he’s paid his debt, and I know he’s remorseful. Nothing I can say matters. It’s all about Mike’s actions, what he does, how people perceive the things that he does and how he reaches out and tries to help people understand the things that he’s lost.”