One of Michael Vick's fighting dogs hides in its shelter at Best Friends animal sanctuary, north of Kanab, Utah.
(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)
HAMPTON, Virginia (AP) Dogs beware. Federal authorities took the electronic collar off suspended NFL star Michael Vick Monday paving the way for his petition to return to the playing field.
Vick's attorney Lawrence Woodward told The Associated Press outside Vick's suburban Virginia home that the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback had been released from federal custody as scheduled. That means Vick no longer has to wear the electronic monitor he's had while under home confinement for the last two months of his 23-month sentence.
Photos: Inside Dog-Fighting's Brutal World
Shortly before Woodward came out of the house, two men in a government car with a U.S. Probation Services folder on the dashboard paid a brief visit to the home. They carried a large case similar to the one that Vick's ankle monitor was delivered in when he started home confinement. The men declined to identify themselves or speak to waiting reporters.
Vick then drove to the federal courthouse in nearby Norfolk to meet federal probation officials to take care of paperwork. Vick declined to answer reporters' questions as he left the courthouse with Woodward about an hour and 45 minutes later.
Freedom will allow Vick to step up his efforts to resume his pro football career. Vick hopes to soon meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has said he would review Vick's status after Vick completed his sentence.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick during a game against the Washington Redskins Dec. 3, 2006, in Landover, Md.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Goodell has said he wants to sit down with Vick, but it's unclear when that face-to-face meeting will take place.
"The review of his status is ongoing, but we are providing no other details at this time," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.
If Vick is able to return to the NFL, it won't be with Atlanta. The Falcons released him in June.
"Michael did an egregious thing," Goodell told The Associated Press in April. "He has paid a very significant price for that."
He said people are forgiving when someone who has done wrong shows remorse and is prepared to live a different life.
"That's something he has to prove to myself and the general public," Goodell said.
State and Federal officials search the grounds behind a home owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in Smithfield, Va., Friday, July 6, 2007.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Vick did not initially show enough remorse to satisfy U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. The 29-year-old player apologized in court in 2007, but Hudson denied him an "acceptance of responsibility" credit that could have reduced his sentence. He sentenced Vick to 23 months in prison — more than any of Vick's three co-defendants.
Under the federal truth-in-sentencing law, Vick had to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence. He served the first 18 months in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, before being transferred to home confinement in May.
While on home confinement, Vick — once the NFL's highest-paid player — worked a $10-an-hour construction job for a few weeks. He switched jobs last month, assisting in children's health and fitness programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Vick will remain on probation for three years. He also is under a three-year suspended sentence for a state dogfighting conviction.
PREVIOUSLY ON CRIMESIDER
July 10, 2009 - Photos: Inside Dog-Fighting's Brutal World
July 9, 2009 - Inside America's Biggest Dog-Fighting Bust
May 20, 2009 -BREAKING: Michael Vick Leaves Prison