He rose to hero status in his home state during two seasons as the quarterback at Virginia Tech, a kid from the tough part of Newport News who was heading for the NFL. Michael Vick left as a soft-spoken star in the making.
The Michael Vick who emerged before a throng Thursday received anything but a hero's welcome. He was jeered and cursed by hundreds who have come to view him as the ruthless face of dogfighting.
The Falcons quarterback said "not guilty" in a firm voice when asked how he pleaded to a conspiracy charge by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Asked his preference for a trial, Vick responded "by jury." Hudson set a Nov. 26 date for Vick and his three co-defendants, all of whom also pleaded not guilty.
Vick was released without bond, but with a series of conditions, including the surrender of any animal breeder or kennel licenses.
He and the others face up to six years in prison and fines of $350,000 if convicted on all charges.
The allegations detailed in a gruesome indictment have sparked protests by animal-rights groups at the headquarters of the NFL and the Falcons. Commissioner Roger Goodell barred Vick from attending training camp while the league investigates.
After the arraignment, Vick climbed into a sport utility vehicle and left his lawyer, Billy Martin, to read a statement on his behalf. "I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name," it said. "I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown."
Vick's mother, Brenda Boddie, stood by Martin's side. "I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times," the statement said.
"This is going to be a hard-fought trial," said Martin, one of Vick's five lawyers. "We are conducting our own investigation. We will look into these allegations, and we look forward to the opportunity to being able to walk inside this courtroom saying to the world that Michael Vick is innocent."
Jets' Martin retires
NEW YORK - After retiring from the Jets as the No. 4 rusher in league history, Curtis Martin, 34, said he has his sights set on becoming an owner.
"Ever since you have seen me as a player, I've been looking at myself as an owner," Martin said at a news conference. "Most people see me as a low-profile player, and I've always seen myself as a high-profile owner."
Martin was hoping to announce specific plans, but he hasn't finalized anything yet. In 11 seasons, Martin finished with 14,101 yards rushing, ranking behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269). His 3,518 carries are third on the career list, and his 90 rushing touchdowns rank him tied for 12th with Eric Dickerson.
NO TO PACMAN: Suspended Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones' request to join the team in camp was denied by the NFL.
THURMAN DENIED: Odell Thurman's petition for reinstatement to the Bengals was denied by Goodell, who decided that the middle linebacker should miss another season because of his ongoing problems. Thurman was suspended for all of last season after skipping a drug test and later being charged with drunken driving.
BILLS: First-round pick Marshawn Lynch (running back, California) agreed to a five-year deal worth nearly $19-million, his agent told the Associated Press. Also, quarterback J.P. Losman was held out of camp after straining his lower back.
BROWNS: Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick out of Wisconsin, agreed to terms on a six-year deal. Second-rounder Eric Wright (cornerback, UNLV) reached agreement on a four-year deal, leaving No. 22 overall pick Brady Quinn (quarterback, Notre Dame) as the team's only unsigned draft pick.
Colts: First-rounder Anthony Gonzalez (receiver, Ohio State) agreed to a five-year deal worth $10.3-million, the Associated Press reported.
Falcons: Jamaal Anderson, the team's first pick and eighth overall (defensive end, Arkansas), worked out the details of a five-year deal that could be worth $31-million.
PANTHERS: Tackle Jeremy Bridges was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after he was accused of pointing a gun at a female employee of a Charlotte strip club. Bridges was released on $3,000 bond. The team said it was still gathering information.
Rams: Quarterback Marc Bulger, who is seeking a new contract, was a no-show for a mandatory meeting the day before the opening of camp.
SEAHAWKS: Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson, the team's top pick, agreed to a four-year contract.