Vick scrambles away from dog-fighting case; notorious house sold

Updated: May 11, 2007, 7:45 PM ET
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Michael Vick looked as though he didn't have a care in the world when he emerged from the Atlanta Falcons' locker room. He took a seat on the metal bleachers and broke into a slight grin when he looked up at the horde of reporters and camera crews, who had him pinned in from all sides.

"How y'all doing?" he asked.

Then things turned serious. Wearing a T-shirt that said "Pay The Price," the NFL's greatest running quarterback quickly made it clear he wouldn't be talking about his ties to an alleged dog-fighting ring. This was Vick in full scramble mode, attempting to elude the sordid case much as he might attempt to escape a 300-pound defensive end.

"I know y'all are here to talk about the ongoing investigation back home in Virginia," he said after the first practice of a mandatory three-day minicamp. "As of right now, that situation is still under investigation. My attorney has advised me not to talk about the situation right now. That's the best thing."

He took eight questions in just under 3½ minutes, two of which appeared to be planted by the Falcons public relations department. Team broadcaster David Archer jumped in to ask Vick about the upcoming season and how excited he was to be calling audibles in new coach Bobby Petrino's system.

Of course, everyone else was there to poke and prod about the latest in a series on embarrassing revelations involving the star quarterback.

He did vow to change his ways, saying he is mindful of how he's viewed by fans. When asked for specifics, Vick replied, "You'll have to wait and see. Just don't plan on talking about me anymore unless it's about football."

The only other time he deviated from the "I can't talk about that" script came when someone queried him on his meeting with team owner Arthur Blank, who said he's worried that Vick's latest troubles could bring a suspension from the NFL.

"We had a great conversation," Vick said. "He told me some things, and he was pretty bold in saying exactly what he needed to say. I heard him out clearly. I know he means business."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has vowed to crack down on misbehaving players, already met with Vick and could suspend him if it's shown that the quarterback knew about dozens of mistreated dogs allegedly used for fighting. There's also the chance of criminal charges; dog fighting is a felony in Virginia.

The animals were found at a home owned by Vick in Surry County, Va. He denied any wrongdoing during the NFL draft, saying a cousin lived at the house and he rarely went there. Vick insisted that he didn't know that a large kennel on the property might be involved in a criminal activity.

Looking to cut ties with the notorious home, Vick quickly sold it.

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., reported that he put the two-story brick house on the market Wednesday and it sold the same day. John Brooks, an agent with Long & Foster, told the newspaper Friday that Vick was asking $350,000 for the property -- less than half its assessed value of $747,000. Brooks would not reveal the sale price.

Vick's myriad troubles have clearly rattled the Falcons, who can't seem to decide where they come down on this latest case.

At midweek, Petrino expressed confidence that Vick was telling the truth and expressed hope that the case would be resolved soon without any criminal charges. Not more than 24 hours later, Blank was blasting the quarterback for embarrassing the franchise and urging him to choose his friends more wisely.

Blank is clearly concerned by Vick's actions in the last six months. He was fined by the league for flashing an obscene gesture at Atlanta fans after a November loss, then got stopped in January by security at the Miami airport for carrying a water bottle with a secret compartment.

And, of course, Vick is still linked with "Ron Mexico" -- the case involving a woman who claimed that the player infected her with a sexually transmitted disease, then took on a ridiculous alias when he sought treatment.

Petrino, who might be wishing he had stayed at Louisville instead of jumping to the Falcons, has apparently decided that the best course of action is to say nothing at all.

"With respect to your job and everything you do," he told reporters, "I started off saying we have five practice this weekend. I want to focus completely on football and put everything else behind us. I'll be glad to answer anything about football."

While hesitant to discuss specifics, Vick's teammates did their best to come to his defense.

"I am sure the whole team supports Mike," outspoken receiver Joe Horn said. "He is not coming to practice with a bad attitude, which some athletes can do if they know there's something negative going on in the media. He is coming out with a great attitude. He is coming out here and talking the guys. He is learning the offense. He is showing people that he is still our leader."

Vick wouldn't discuss the sale of the house or even respond to the chance to proclaim his innocence, as he did shortly after the property was raided by investigators two weeks ago.

"Like I said, I won't talk about the situation right now," he said. "When the investigation is over, then I'll be more than glad to answer any questions that you might have for me."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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