Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison Monday for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy that involved gambling and killing pit bulls.
He could have been sentenced up to five years. He turned himself in Nov. 19 in anticipation of his sentence
Vick, wearing a black-and-white striped prison suit, apologized to the court and his family. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson Hudson told him: "You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you."
"Yes, sir," Vick answered.
Vick acknowledged he used "poor judgment" and added, "I'm willing to deal with the consequences and accept responsibility for my actions."
Federal rules governing time off for good behavior could reduce Vick's prison stay by about three months, resulting in a summer 2009 release.
Before the hearing started, brother Marcus Vick sat with his right arm around their mother, comforting her as she buried her head in her hands and wept.
Vick pleaded guilty in August, admitting he bankrolled the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting operation and helped kill six to eight dogs. He has been held at a jail in Warsaw, Va., since he voluntarily began serving his sentence.
In a plea agreement, he admitted bankrolling the dogfighting ring on his 15-acre property in rural southeastern Virginia and helping kill pit bulls that did not perform well in test fights. He also admitted providing money for bets on the fights but said he never shared in any winnings.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank called the sentencing "another step in his legal journey."
"This is a difficult day for Michael's family and for a lot of us, including many of our players and fans who have been emotionally invested in Michael over the years," Blank said.
"We sincerely hope that Michael will use this time to continue to focus his efforts on making positive changes in his life, and we wish him well in that regard."
At a news conference after pleading guilty last summer, Vick apologized to the NFL, the Falcons and youngsters who viewed him as a role model and vowed: "I will redeem myself."
Court papers revealed gruesome details about Vick's dogfighting operation, including the execution of underperforming dogs by electrocution, drowning, hanging and other means. Those details prompted a public backlash against the once-popular NFL star and outraged animal-rights groups, which used the case to call attention to the brutality of dogfighting.