From Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller:
The White House confirms that President Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie – and that on call the two discussed the comeback of quarterback Michael Vick.
“He of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of but, as he's said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again,” White House deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told ABC News.
The President reportedly told Lurie that he supports the second chance Vick has gotten, after the quarterback spent time in jail for running in a dog fighting ring.
SI.com’s Peter King reported Monday that Lurie told him, the President said, “'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was … passionate about it. He said it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''
Vick served nearly two years in prison and house arrest after he pled guilty in 2007 to running the “Bad Newz Kennels,” a dog fighting business that left countless dogs dismembered and dead. Vick is not legally permitted to have a dog, but he says he would like to own one in the future. His recent performance on the football field has been extraordinary and he recently told our own Bob Woodruff that some of that success can be credited to his downfall.
“I think I'm better now as a player now because God sent me to the bottom. And I'm a firm believer in karma and I think it happened because of what I did and what I allowed to happen to those animals so I was stripped of everything stripped me down to the bone of everything and you know I think I took for granted the position that I was in in my life all the blessings that I had and that wasn't my purpose in life to be doing what I was doing and it was wrong,” Vick said.
President Obama has long been a big supporter of giving ex-prisoners the opportunity to redeem themselves, and has even worked on legislation to facilitate that. In January, speaking at a town hall in Tampa about the Second Chance Act, which helps to place ex-offenders in the workplace, he said, “This is part of my faith, my religious faith, but you don't have to be religious to, I think, believe in the idea of redemption, that people can get a second chance, that people can change.”
The President also commented after Tiger Woods’ very public troubles, telling People Magazine that the golf pro could “absolutely” be rehabilitated.
“I’m a strong believer that anybody can look within themselves, find their flaws and fix them,” President Obama said to People.
Burton also points out that on that call that among other things, the President and Lurie also discussed plans for the use of alternative energy at Lincoln Financial Field.
– Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller