By Charles Robinson and Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports
January 4, 2008
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick could be getting out of federal prison much earlier than anticipated after applying for a prison-monitored drug rehabilitation program and evidently being moved into the program in Leavenworth, Kan.
The program could have Vick out of prison by the end of this year and perhaps back in the NFL by the 2009 season.
A source confirmed to Yahoo! Sports on Friday that Vick has applied to the program, which is run only at the federal facility at Leavenworth. An official with the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Friday that Vick was being transported to Leavenworth.
Part of the reason Vick was given a 23-month sentence was that he failed a drug test for marijuana after pleading guilty to charges relating to dog fighting. Vick is expected to be held in a minimum security wing of the prison at Leavenworth. According to a federal source, Vick is currently in transit to a minimum security satellite prison that is under the jurisdiction of the Leavenworth facility.
Although it's unknown what the standards are for entrance to the drug rehabilitation program, two sources confirmed that Vick was eligible for it. An official at Leavenworth told Yahoo! Sports that Vick would have to spend a minimum of one month at the prison before qualifying for the program.
Calls and emails to Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, were not immediately returned Friday, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill refused to comment on Vick's application.
"I can't confirm or deny anything on it," Gill said.
As it stands, Vick's 23-month prison term could translate to a release in the summer of 2009, putting his attempts at a return to the NFL for that season in jeopardy. But if Vick were to be released in late 2008 or early 2009, his opportunity to return to the league after missing only two seasons would be boosted significantly. Members of Vick's camp continue to hope that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will decline to tack on a lengthy suspension following Vick's release from prison.
Humane Society investigator John Goodwin expressed moderate dismay at the news Vick might get out earlier.
"At the time that he was sentenced, I and a lot of other people who watched this case felt Vick received a fair sentence," Goodwin said. "If this really happens, that he's able to get out in what's basically half the time, I think there's going to be a lot of outrage about the whole situation.
"It's just another example of big money allowing someone to get away with something the rest of society couldn't."
Updated on Friday, Jan 4, 2008 5:17 pm, EST