Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 19 News List

NFL: Vick's agent hopes client will return to NFL by September

AP , NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA

Michael Vick makes a statement after pleading guilty in a dogfighting case in Richmond, Virginia, on Aug. 27, 2007. Vick made his first personal appearance in a Virginia bankruptcy court in Newport News, Virginia, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

An agent for suspended NFL star Michael Vick told a bankruptcy court on Thursday that he hoped the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback could return to the league by September.

Joel Segal testified as part of a hearing to assess Vick’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy, which was designed with the goal of Vick returning to a professional American football career. Vick, who left a federal prison in Kansas last week to travel to Virginia, was in court for the first time in the case.

To return to a team, Vick still must apply to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to be reinstated. He hasn’t yet done so, Segal said, and plans first to finish his 23-month sentence for bankrolling a dogfighting operation.

He will return to his family and community and start working with strength and quarterback coaches when he is ready, the agent said.

Segal said he would try to negotiate a one or two-year contract that included incentives for playing time and a starting position.

Segal said he hadn’t spoken to teams because Vick was still under contract with the Falcons, though the team has said he won’t play for Atlanta again.

“He’ll let me know when he’s ready for that and when Mike’s ready, we have a plan,” Segal said.

Vick is expected to testify at the hearing, which was scheduled to end yesterday.

Much of the testimony in the hearing had detailed some of the ways he planned to spend his life once he is released from federal custody in July. He could be transferred to home confinement late next month.

One of those changes will be a construction job, said Michael Blumenthal, Vick’s leading attorney.

Vick has lined up a 40-hour-a-week, US$10-an-hour job at one of W.M. Jordan Co’s 40 commercial construction jobs, said chief executive officer John Lawson, whose father helped start the Newport News, Virginia, company.

Lawson, 57, said that he had known Vick for more than 10 years and that they had been involved in charitable work together.

He said Vick’s representatives approached him when the former hometown hero was turned away by other employers.

“I believe all of us make mistakes and once you’ve fulfilled your commitment and paid the price, you should be given a second chance,” Lawson said in a telephone interview. “He’s not a bad person. He made some bad choices.”

Once one of the NFL’s highest-paid players, Vick began to slide into financial ruin after details about the brutality of his dogfighting enterprise enraged the public.

But court records show they were already in serious disarray because of lavish spending and poor investments.

This week, Vick and the Falcons agreed that he would pay back US$6.5 million of his Atlanta contract, moving closer to cutting ties with a team that doesn’t want him.

Vick was suspended indefinitely after his 2007 indictment and Goodell has said he will review Vick’s status when he is released.

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