Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has spoken with representatives from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals about appearing in an advertisement for the animal protection group, but no deal on a partnership has been reached, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk told ABC News Wednesday.
"The requirement from us would have to be extremely strong language," Newkirk said. "It would have to include Michael Vick saying, 'We've lost everything, and you would, too.'"
Newkirk was responding to a story posted on the FoxNews Web site Wednesday that stated in the headline that Vick — who awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges — and PETA, the group that fought for his indictment, had comes to terms on an agreement.
Vick, whose attorney appeared in a Virginia court today to face additional state felony dogfighting charges, did attend an eight-hour PETA course last month. He first visited PETA's Norfolk, Va., office Sept. 7, where he met with Newkirk and apologized for abusing dogs. The group has lobbied for the course, which is available online, to be required of all NFL players.
Newkirk acknowledged that Vick's attendance in the course may be construed as an effort to shorten his prison sentence, following his federal guilty plea. A sentencing decision is scheduled for Dec. 10. But Newkirk also said that PETA's position that Vick deserves jail time remains "unswerving."
One of the conditions of Vick doing an advertisement for PETA would require the athlete to say that his involvement in animal abuse not only harmed his family, income and career but would also include the statement "and I'm going to go to jail, and you would, too."
A spokesman for Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, had no comment on the matter.
Newkirk said she did not feel the group was aligning itself with one of its biggest enemies, but that Vick's public statement against animal cruelty could reach an audience that PETA can't.
"We're not here to preach to our choir," Newkirk said. "Our job is to try to open abusers' hearts and minds."