NAACP: Don't rush to judgment on Falcons QB

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

ATLANTA -- NAACP leaders urged public restraint Monday in judging Michael Vick before he has his day in court.

R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has been vilified by animal rights groups, talk radio and the news media and prematurely punished by his team and corporate sponsors.

"If Mr. Vick is guilty, he should pay for his crime, but to treat him as he is being treated now is also a crime," White said at a news conference. "Be restrained in your premature judgment until the legal process is completed."

Vick has pleaded not guilty to charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation.

Businesses have been quick to recoil. Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Vick and Reebok stopped sales of his No. 7 jersey. In addition, two trading card companies withdrew Vick items.

In an interview aired Monday, Vick told Porsche Foxx on Atlanta radio station WVEE-FM, "I know I've put the city through a lot. My owner, Arthur Blank, who I love sincerely, I've put him through a lot. And you know it's hurt me to put him through these situations to have to deal with that because he shouldn't have to."

-- AP

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