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Animal-rights activist meets with Michael Vick

The disgraced quarterback might join the Humane Society in its campaign against dogfighting.

May 20, 2009|Sam Farmer

As one of the country's leading animal-rights advocates, Wayne Pacelle never imagined he would be here -- eye to eye with Michael Vick, engaged in a heartfelt and productive conversation with the disgraced quarterback.

But Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, made two trips in the last month to meet with Vick in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. Vick, who has served 23 months for his involvement in a dogfighting conspiracy, is expected to be released as soon as today to begin serving two months of home confinement.

"Nobody was tougher on Michael Vick than we were," Pacelle said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I did not imagine 23 months ago that I would be sitting opposite from Michael Vick at a small table and contemplating the idea of him joining our campaign against dogfighting."

Pacelle said he had not been in contact with the NFL about the situation, and that his organization was contacted by the quarterback's representatives.

He and Vick tried to meet once in April but could talk only on the phone because of logistical problems. They met face to face on Pacelle's second visit.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that Vick's only possible path back to playing in the league is by showing sincere remorse.

"Michael's going to have to demonstrate to myself and the general public and to a lot of people, did he learn anything from this experience?" Goodell said Tuesday at the league's meetings in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

"Does he regret what happened? Does he feel that he can be a positive influence going forward?

"Those are questions that I would like to see when I sit with him."

Goodell did not give a timetable for meeting with Vick except that it will not occur until at least July 20, after Vick has completed his sentence.

Pacelle said he did not talk specifics with Vick about how he might participate in an anti-cruelty campaign, but that it probably would involve public-service announcements, participating in youth programs and the like.

"There are no successful dogfighters; it is a dead-end activity," Pacelle said. "More than anybody, he can tell the story about how it set him back in his life in a very dramatic way."

Television deals

Now that the NFL has ended its impasse with Comcast, and the Philadelphia-based cable provider plans to begin carrying the NFL Network starting Aug. 1, it could open the door for other cable companies to do the same.

Goodell said the league is looking to work out its differences with other operators that don't carry the network, among them Cablevision, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable.

With the addition of Comcast, the league's network will now reach 45 million subscribers, roughly half the total pay-TV market.

Also, the NFL extended its deals with Fox and CBS by two years, through the 2014 season.

Super(dome) host

New Orleans, a city seemingly made for the Super Bowl, will host its 10th thanks to a vote of NFL owners Tuesday. The city was awarded the 2013 game, beating out Miami and Glendale, Ariz.

It helped matters that Louisiana lawmakers recently approved plans to spend $85 million for upgrades to the Superdome that will be completed in time for the game.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter at twitter.com/latimesfarmer.

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