By STEVE WYCHE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/27/07
Two hours after Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges in Richmond, team owner Arthur Blank and president and general manager Rich McKay addressed the team's stand at Blank's Buckhead family office.
Trying to balance personal feelings with professional obligation, Blank said he's accepted quarterback Michael Vick's apologies - some of them have been personal, including a phone conversation last Monday â€” yet he's going to try to recoup millions of dollars the team has paid him in signing bonus money.
Blank declined to say if Vick would ever play for the Falcons again, citing legalities for his stance.
Cutting Vick now, "would be a short-term fix at the expense of our long-term success," Blank said. "We can not tell you today that Michael is cut from the team. Cutting him may feel better today, emotionally for us and many of our fans, but it's not in the long-term best interest of our franchise.
"We're putting the emotions, the shock the disappointment, the anger, the once-held-hope that this was not true, behind us."
Though Blank and McKay were non-committal about Vick playing for the Falcons once he's served his legal penance and earned reinstatement from the NFL's indefinite suspension lifted, their attempt to recoup nearly $22 million from the former face of the franchise isn't exactly extending an olive branch.
The team, which signed Vick to a $130 million contract extension in 2004, issued a letter of demand for collection to Vick's representatives Monday. The Falcons have to keep Vick on the roster while it pursues his bonus money.
Former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, former Atlanta Braves star Henry Aaron, former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski and President Emertia of Bennett and Spellman Colleges Johnneta Cole, were in attendance at the news conference. They are all members of the Falcons Board of Directors.