Published January 22, 2009
NEW YORK – PETA will not televise an anti-dogfighting public service announcement with former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick unless he submits to a brain scan and full psychiatric evaluation.
PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told FOXNews.com that negotiations broke down with Vick's attorneys, who have sought assurance from the Virginia-based organization that it would support Vick's return to football.
In an e-mail to Vick's attorneys, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk urged that Vick undergo a brain scan and a full psychiatric evaluation before being eligible to return to the NFL.
"If he passes the test, everyone can truly have hope that he has the capacity to change, and indeed has changed, not just in word but in heart, mind and deed," the e-mail read. "If that's so, we will be overjoyed and look forward to having Michael record the spot in July in which he tells dogfighters to get out and explains that cruelty to animals is wrong."
Vick, 28, is serving a 23-month sentence at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy. He is scheduled to be released in June but Vick's attorneys are attempting to have the one-time highest paid player in the NFL transferred to a halfway house in Virginia as early as late January.
"If Michael wants to do a PSA with PETA against dogfighting, and he has indicated that he does, this is the condition we're setting," Shannon said. "He's going to have to pass this exam to do the PSA and we think the NFL should require a similar exam."
Shannon said roughly 8,000 people have signed an online petition urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to arrange a "thorough psychiatric evaluation" of Vick. The petition was posted early Wednesday, Shannon said.
"Whether or not they should be, athletes are role models and if they're given the opportunity to be a role mode, they should meet certain character requirements," Shannon said. "Vick's people were clear that they'd like PETA to become an ally to Vick's return, but we cannot do that until we have some indication that Michael Vick is genuinely interested in becoming a part of the solution to dogfighting. Until he does that, we can't and won't support his return to the NFL."
Shannon added, "The ball is in their court."
Attempts to reach Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, and his agent, Joel Segal, were unsuccessful.
FOXNews.com's Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report.