NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, perhaps feeling the same backlash from its own members that is popping up on message boards and chat rooms, said it is no longer in talks with jailed former NFL superstar Michael Vick to appear in public-service announcements for the animal-rights group.
Dan Shannon, director of youth outreach and campaigns for PETA, told AdAge.com the group wanted to work with Mr. Vick if the disgraced star -- due to be released from prison on May 20 after being convicted of running an illegal dog-fighting ring -- was willing to take a psychological evaluation for anti-social personality disorder.
Mr. Shannon now says, "In retrospect, I feel like I didn't convey the proper tense of all of this. It was back in December of last year when we called on him to submit for this psychological evaluation, when we put out the ultimatum, or we're not interested in moving forward. It didn't happen, and we took that to mean that the talks were kind of dead in the water."
Added Mr. Shannon, "We talked about doing the PSA as far back as '07, when he originally ]went to jail]. There were these discussions, to be sure. That happened. But as of December of '08, we felt the talks had died."
Asked if he was feeling any pressure from PETA membership after the original AdAge.com story broke earlier this afternoon saying the group had talks with Mr. Vick, Mr. Shannon said, "Here's the thing: The psychological evaluation, if he were to take that and pass it with flying colors, it doesn't mean we'll jump into a TV studio with him and film an ad. What it means is he has the ability to show remorse and see what he did was wrong. The goal is to weed out that the guy is a clinical psychopath."
Asked if that meant the possibility existed that the group would eventually work with Mr. Vick if he submitted to such an evaluation, Mr. Shannon said "Our No. 1 goal at PETA is to prevent cruelty to animals. I believe a genuine, contrite Michael Vick could convince people not to get involved in dog fighting. What we don't believe at this point is that there is a contrite, remorseful Michael Vick. At this point, it looks like there's zero chance."