Crowd awaits Vick after prison release

Published 4:38 am Thursday, May 21, 2009

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Michael Vick can still draw a crowd.

The cul-de-sac in front of the suspended NFL star’s five-bedroom home drew a steady stream of curious onlookers as news spread that he was heading back to town.

Some conveniently jogged by, others biked and many simply drove in hoping to get a peek.

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A couple of college-age men climbed out onto a first-story roof across the street from Vick’s home and sat down to absorb the scene, then tossed a football in the yard Wednesday.

And of course, there was no shortage of media, satellite TV trucks and photographers.

Everything was ready, except Vick didn’t arrive at his home after embarking on the 19-hour ride from Leavenworth, Kan., following his pre-dawn release from federal prison earlier.

He still was nowhere to be seen Thursday morning, but even at 1 a.m., about a dozen Vick supporters, several wearing his now-obsolete Atlanta Falcons jersey, waited outside.

Vick spent 19 months in prison after his federal dogfighting conviction and is returning to Virginia to spend the last two months of his sentence under home confinement. He will work a $10-an-hour construction job and wear an electronic monitor that restricts his movement.

He has until the end of the week to meet with his parole officer, but even that meeting could take place at the brick home with the in-ground pool, fenced yard and pond out back. The officer has to make the trip anyway, it seems, to make sure to monitor is working properly.

Vick is scheduled to be released from federal custody on July 20.

While there were no signs welcoming the fallen star back to the home he will share with his fiancee and children, neighbors seemed relieved that the gathering wasn’t larger.

Doug Walter, who lives two doors away, said he was pleasantly surprised when he got home from work to find only media on the street, and not the ‘‘radical element’’ he feared.