Atlanta, GA (UPSI) - The White House today announced that President Bush would be issuing a full presidential pardon to embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The president met with Vick aboard Air Force One during a scheduled refueling stop early this morning at Atlanta's Hartsfield international Airport. The president's pardon renders moot a plea bargain agreement reached with federal prosecutors late last week in which it was widely believed that Vick would agree to plead guilty to charges that he was running an illegal dogfighting ring this coming Friday.
"The president thought long and hard about this decision, knowing full well that it would be controversial," stated White House spokesperson Dana Perino. "He felt that it was important to begin the healing process and have this sad state of events put behind the country. The president feels that Mr. Vick and the NFL have suffered enough, and that the loss of his career should be punishment enough."
"He's quite a charming young man," stated the president to reporters afterwards. "I do believe that he has learned his lesson, and I see no point in having this dragged out before the courts and televisions and further demeaning America's favorite pastime. They have come up with some fairly creative probationary requirements for Mike, including extensive community service at the Atlanta humane shelter. He has also graciously consented to do a little remedial training with my Barney as well."
The White House further stated that this was evidence that the president would continue to utilize his judicial pardon powers in a fair and equal manner, and that he was looking forward to an exciting NFL season this year. The president also accepted a Falcons' jersey with the number seven from Vick aboard Air Force One.