9th July 03:51
lifelong criminal Allen Iverson offers his support for Michael Vick
Iverson offers support to embattled Falcons QB
ESPN.com news services
Updated: July 23, 2007, 11:13 AM ET
NORFOLK, Va. -- Allen Iverson offered some words of advice to
beleaguered Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who will be
arraigned later this week on charges he sponsored a dogfighting
operation in Virginia.
Iverson, who has had to contend with his own legal issues in the past,
said Saturday that Vick should "keep his head up," adding he's not
surprised by the volume and intensity of the criticism toward Vick, a
fellow Virginia native.
"It's always been like that from day one, since there was sports," the
star Denver Nuggets guard told the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va.
"There was always a bull's-eye on us. Everybody doesn't love athletes.
Some people feel like we're spoiled. Some people feel that because we
are rich, we think we are above the law; we're better than everybody
Iverson gave an impromptu interview Saturday during a celebrity flag
football game he hosted in Norfolk as part of his Allen Iverson Summer
Vick will be in court in Richmond on Thursday -- the same day the
Falcons open training camp in Ge****a -- for bond hearings and
arraignments on charges he sponsored a dogfighting operation. Vick and
three co-defendants will be asked to enter pleas to the felony
charges, and a date for the federal trial likely will be set during
Iverson, in his interview with the Daily Press, said he didn't think
pro athletes should just cut ties with old friends.
"You know, I don't think it's fair to say, 'Stay away from the people
you grew up with,'" he said. "It's hard to have a relationship with
people once you're already rich. You have to have a relationship with
the same people you grew up with.
"But at the same time, you've got to make sure the guys are not
hurting you. You've got to be smart enough to know when they're
hurting you and when they're helping you."
Vick and his co-defendants are alleged to have begun the dogfighting
operation, known as Bad Newz Kennels, in early 2001, the former
Virginia Tech star's rookie year as the No. 1 pick. The operation was
centered at a property Vick owned in Surry County.
After an April police raid on the property, Vick said he was rarely at
the house and had no idea that it might have been used in a criminal
enterprise. He blamed family members for taking advantage of his
generosity and pledged to be more careful.
"I think he's got to figure out and find out if he's got the right
people around him, and I'm sure he's smart enough to know who is good
for him and who's not," Iverson said.
Iverson has overcome his own legal troubles. Five years ago he was
investigated by Philadelphia authorities after allegedly breaking into
his cousin's apartment and threatening him with a gun. Iverson was
arrested on 14 felony and misdemeanor charges and was later cleared of
all but one misdemeanor.
In 1997, Iverson pleaded no contest to gun possession.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.