Falcons owner Blank: Vick deserves a second chance, but not in Atlanta

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Arthur Blank won't bring Michael Vick back to Atlanta. That doesn't mean the Falcons' owner wouldn't want to see the tarnished quarterback receive a second chance in the NFL.

Hours after Vick left a federal penitentiary after serving most of a 23-month sentence for financing a dogfighting ring, Blank -- who once gave Vick a 10-year, $130 million contract -- said Wednesday that the once-charismatic star quarterback is taking positive steps by wanting to work with humane societies and making other changes in his life.

"I believe in second chances," Blank said shortly before the NFL Spring Meeting ended in South Florida. "I believe in redemption."

Even for Vick, who clearly was a Blank favorite when he wore No. 7 for the Falcons and not No. 33765-183 in the federal prison system. Blank famously pushed Vick on the field in a wheelchair when the quarterback had a broken leg in 2003 and exchanged letters with the quarterback during Vick's time in prison.

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The working relationship -- player and owner -- ended with Vick's betrayal. The personal relationship, somehow, has persevered.

"I have not spoken to him face to face," Blank said. "I have indicated that I would do anything that I can do on a personal level that would be constructive and productive for Michael, and that still hasn't changed. But we've certainly been in communication."

But Vick won't return to the Falcons as a player.

"We've made it clear Michael's not going to play for us again, as you know," Blank said. "Right now, his salary is being tolled so it has no effect on our cap, beyond the allocation of signing bonus, which happens under any circumstances. So we'll deal with it at the time we think is correct."

Vick quietly slipped out of the prison in Leavenworth, Kan., after serving 19 months of his sentence. Accompanied by his fiancee, Vick was driving home to Virginia to begin two months of home confinement at his five-bedroom house in Hampton before a scheduled released from federal custody on July 20.

Sometime after that, Vick likely will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who then will start the process of deciding if the quarterback should be allowed to return to the league.

"I don't know what else I can add," Goodell said Wednesday. "Once he's concluded that, I will make a judgment based on what he tells me and what I can determine from speaking to others and a final background check on this and make a determination at the right time."

No teams have publicly said they would welcome Vick, for several reasons -- the biggest of which is that his contract rights are still owned by the Falcons, who might seek to trade the quarterback or give him his outright release if Goodell reinstates him.

If a team takes a chance on Vick, that club surely will have to deal with a public-relations uproar.

"We're not looking at that situation," Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "We don't have an interest there."

But at the same time, Irsay suggested that Vick should have a chance to redeem himself.

"It's always great when you hear about the stories of people coming back from (mistakes) early in their life and turning things around," Irsay said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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