Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said on Tuesday he was "disappointed" in his star quarterback Michael Vick, who was indicted last week on charges of operating an illegal dog-fighting ring.
"In my heart right now for him personally I am sad. I feel badly that he potentially has put himself in a set of circumstances that are going to be very difficult for him to deal with," said Blank.
"This is not the young man I have got to know in the last six years so I am disappointed," he said at a news conference at the home of his foundation in Atlanta.
National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday asked Vick, 27, not to report to the Falcons' training camp while the indictment was reviewed. Vick is still drawing his salary.
Blank said the Falcons had wanted a stronger sanction against Vick but accepted Goodell's decision.
Vick, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with breakaway running speed and a powerful passing arm who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury. He is to be arraigned in Richmond, Virginia on Thursday.
Blank, the billionaire founder of home-improvement retailer Home Depot, bought the Falcons in February 2002 and said he had known Vick since 2001.
"We had no indications, no signs, no whispers of any of this kind of behavior," he said in reference to the charges, the details of which he described as "repulsive."
A handful of animal rights protesters demonstrated outside the news conference.
The indictment said dogs sometimes fought to the death on Vick's property and that some losing dogs had been shot to death, drowned, hung or electrocuted. It also charged that Vick and his associates shot dogs that did not pass muster after tests of their fighting ability.
Vick has denied direct involvement in the pit bull fights that the indictment said took place on his property in Virginia.
Vick faces up to six years in prison and $350,000 in fines if convicted on all of the charges.