KIRKLAND, Wash. (July 29, 2007) -- Jim Mora is so shocked about Michael Vick being indicted on federal dogfighting charges, the former Falcons coach doesn't know how he should feel about his ex-quarterback.
Mora, now the Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive backs coach after the Falcons fired him New Year's Day, has been in contact with Vick as he honors the NFL's mandate to stay away from Atlanta's training camp -- and as Mora's replacement, Bobby Petrino, tries to shield Falcons players from their teammate's saga.
Mora said that he reached out to Vick a day before Vick pleaded not guilty last week to participating in a dogfighting ring that allegedly executed underperforming pit bulls by hanging, electrocution or other brutal means.
"We have a very good relationship. He and I exchanged text messages Wednesday. I just wanted to let him know that I was thinking about him," Mora said of Vick, whose dynamic play was a large reason why the Falcons reached the NFC championship game in the 2004 season.
"And that's not to condone what he supposedly did, at all. Just, on a human level, to let him know that I was here (for him).
"I think it's a real unfortunate situation, and I hope for the best for him. You obviously hope the charges aren't true," he said.
The seriousness of the accusations and the bond Mora and Vick formed in three seasons leave the former Falcons coach conflicted.
"You know, it's really tough for me to comment on what's going on with him, because I don't know how I feel about it. I go back and forth. I think you can understand that," Mora said on the first day of Seahawks training camp.
"It's a tough call, for me. I'm trying to keep my focus on my family and the Seattle Seahawks. And hopefully things play out down there how they are supposed to play out, for everybody."
Mora said Vick is quiet by nature -- not exactly a man who fits the allegations of brutality surrounding "Bad Newz Kennels" on property Vick owned in Virginia.
"He plays in a flamboyant manner. But he's not a flamboyant person," Mora said of the 27-year-old Vick. "He doesn't dress flamboyantly. He doesn't hit all the night spots. He isn't out on the town. He's kind of a quiet, reserved kid.
"But I can just tell you this: He always carried himself in a very professional manner when he was around the Atlanta Falcons."
"Just like Dan Reeves (Atlanta's coach from 1997-2003) said, I never saw that side of him. What I saw was a real professional. A kid who cared about his teammates, who cared about people in general, who was a hard worker, who was always there and always on time.
"And once again, he is accused of things. He hasn't been convicted. I didn't ever seen anything that indicated that side of him."
Neither did Patrick Kerney. He was Vick's teammate since the quarterback came into the league in 2001, one whom Kerney said he knew "as much as you can know someone who's quiet."
"Yeah, I certainly wouldn't have expected that," he said, pausing to shake his head in disbelief. "It's quite a circus."
Kerney, who was the Seahawks biggest defensive offseason acquisition, thinks the Falcons will be fine with Joey Harrington, or anybody else, as their starting quarterback this season.
"There's so many great strong-character guys on that team that I know they have the leadership to ignore what is going on on the outside," Kerney said. "They will even be able to use that as a motivator, I think."
Did Kerney ever hear talk of dogfighting in the Falcons locker room -- or anywhere else?
"No. Didn't even know it existed," he said.
"Thought it was a myth."