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Vick apologizes for obscene hand gesture to fans

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    FLOWERY BRANCH — Michael Vick’s frustrations with fading playoff hopes and unexpected insults from home fans caused him to flash an obscene hand gesture on Sunday.
    Vick, who apologized in a written statement late Sunday for making the gesture toward fans with both hands following the crushing 31-13 loss to New Orleans, vowed on Monday to never make the same mistake.
    ‘‘I would have never thought that six years into my career I would ever do something like that,’’ Vick said.
    ‘‘It will never happen again. Never.’’
    Vick rushed for 166 yards in the loss, only 7 yards shy of his NFL record for a game by a quarterback. But his efforts couldn’t make up for an otherwise dismal performance that included at least five dropped passes by receivers and breakdowns in the secondary and on the offensive line.
    The Falcons (5-6) heard loud boos following their fourth straight loss. Vick said that as he walked off the Georgia Dome field he heard an especially disturbing insult from a male fan.
    ‘‘He just said certain things I won’t say in front of this camera,’’ Vick said at a news conference. ‘‘It was very inappropriate. I was down, upset, frustrated. I just did one thing I’ve never done through all the games I’ve ever lost, no matter how frustrated I’ve been after a game. I don’t know where it came from, but the people who know me know that’s not me and that’s not my character.’’
    Vick again apologized.
    ‘‘I’m sorry and I apologize to all the young kids and to whoever saw me make that gesture,’’ he said. ‘‘I just let my emotions get the best of me in that situation and it won’t happen again.’’
    Falcons coach Jim Mora said the incident was isolated.
    ‘‘Mike offered a very sincere apology and that’s all I can say about it,’’ Mora said. ‘‘He obviously felt bad about it. He came forward right away and issued an apology and I’ll let it stand at that.
    ‘‘To me that’s out of character for Mike, what he did. The Mike Vick I know, he appreciates the fans. It was more of just real frustration. I know he’s contrite. His apology stated that.’’
    Mora said Vick’s action was not a sign of other problems on the slumping team.
    ‘‘The things you typically see when there is frustration is backstabbing and backbiting and finger-pointing and we’re not seeing that,’’ Mora said. ‘‘I’m not seeing it internally. I’m not seeing that with our players. If there’s a positive, that’s a positive.’’
    Mora’s frustrations showed during the game when he fell to both knees while reacting to a dropped pass by Roddy White, who was open near the Saints 10 in the fourth quarter.
    White, a first-round pick in 2005, has been unable to hold a starting job due to inconsistent play.
    Mora said an even more unlikely blow to the Falcons’ hopes came on the final play of the first half. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ desperation pass was caught by Terrance Copper for a 48-yard touchdown as three Falcons defenders failed to deflect the ball.
    ‘‘I called timeout before the ’Hail Mary’ to make sure we’re in the right defense,’’ Mora said Monday. ‘‘That was the first time, in my 22nd or 23rd year coaching ball, that’s the first time I’ve had a ’Hail Mary’ caught on me. Man. It just comes down to making plays.’’
    The Falcons have fallen from first to third in the NFC South and now face road games at Washington and Tampa Bay. One season after the team finished 8-8 following a 6-2 start, the Falcons are fading again following a 5-2 start.
    ‘‘I’m all about playing in the big games and getting to the big games and just enjoying football,’’ Vick said. ‘‘It’s kind of reality setting in that we’re in the situation we’re in now, and if we don’t make the playoffs that’s two years back to back that we didn’t accomplish our No. 1 goal at the beginning of the season, and it’s going to be very disappointing.
    ‘‘I’m trying to do everything in my power to prevent that. That’s why I ran the ball the way I did yesterday.’’
    No matter the frustrations of another loss, Vick said he realizes he can’t lose control.
    ‘‘This is the fish bowl we’re in,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve got to come out and put on a show.
    ‘‘Fans want to see you win and they pay their money to see you put on a good show, and when we don’t they’ve got every right to say what they want to. We’ve got to be professionals and handle it the way we’re supposed to, and just shake it off and come back the next week and make them scream instead of boo.’’
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