BY Brian Kates

BBN VICK PLEADisgraced NFL star Michael Vick has been released from federal prison after 18 months behind bars for his role in a brutal dogfighting operation.

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback was released at dawn Wednesday from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kans., and will return to his home in Hampton, Va., to begin serving a home confinement sentence. His movements will be electronically monitored, his lawyer, Billy Martin, said.

Vick, 28, reportedly will be allowed to leave his house for work at a $10-an-hour construction job. He is expected to be released from federal custody July 20 and will serve three years of supervised probation.

Vick sparked national outrage after he admitted sharing responsibility for hanging, drowning or beating to death six to eight dogs that had performed poorly in fights he backed.

In December 2007, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate a dogfighting enterprise across state lines.

Once among the NFL’s highest-paid and most popular stars, he is now bankrupt and suspended indefinitely from the league.

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Vick has said he hopes to persuade NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to reinstate him, but his agent, Joel Segal, told that the former star would put football “on the back burner” for now.

Goodell said Tuesday at the league owners’ meeting in Florida that he would reinstate Vick only after the fading star convinced him of his remorse.

“Did he learn anything from his experience, does he regret what happened, does he feel that he can be a positive influence going forward?” Goodell asked. “Those are questions that I would like to see when I sit with him.”

Goodell said no such meeting would take place until Vick had completed his entire sentence.

U.S. Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle said Tuesday that he met with Vick in prison and that the NFL star wanted to be part of a campaign to wipe out dogfighting.

“Nobody was tougher on Michael Vick than we were,” Pacelle told the Los Angeles Times. “I did not imagine 23 months ago that I would be sitting opposite from Michael York…and contemplating the idea of him joining our campaign against dogfighting.”

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