Submitted by Chase.Hamil 08/20/2007 
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has accepted a plea deal from federal prosecutors that may cut several years off a possible prison sentence and reduce a portion of a $250,000 fine for his role in running an illegal dogfighting operation. Vick formally entered his plea to Henry E. Hudson, the judge overseeing the case. Legal experts as well as editorial staffers of the Sporting News say Vick will probably spend at least a year behind bars.    

 Vick’s future in the National Football League indeed appears gloomy. This writer/blogger contacted Greg Aiello, Vice President of Public Relations for the NFL and was told that the League considers dog fighting to be “cruel, degrading and illegal.” Aiello went on to say that Vick’s admission of guilt makes him subject to “prompt and significant discipline” under the League’s personal conduct policy.

Although Vick initially said he was innocent of the charges, three of his co-defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Vick. By avoiding a trial, Vick will dodge more serious charges (and significant prison time) surrounding his ventures in the “Bad Newz Kennels,” which he is accused of fully funding. His participation in the activity also involved Vick’s killing by strangulation and drowning several non-performing dogs.

Animal rights activists quickly appeared outside the courthouse today in Richmond. A spokesman for the group, Michael Brazell told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that “other dog fighters need to get out of the business now.” Vick’s guilty plea, expected next Monday at 10:30 am, may not be the end of his tribulations. The state prosecutor for Surry County, Virginia, where the dogfights took place, told reporters be plans to bring additional charges next month against Vick and his cohorts.

League Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is waiting for all the facts to be weighed before pronouncing his own sentence on Vick, is said to be greatly distressed over the fact that Vick assured him repeatedly that he was not involved in dogfighting, that none of the events took place on Vick’s property in Surry County, and that he had absolutely no financial interest in the activity.

In addition to losing millions of dollars worth of endorsements from such sponsors as Nike and Coca-Cola, Vick will face firsthand the NFL’s toughened player conduct policy. Goodell is known as a “no nonsense” disciplinarian who has the power to impose a lifetime ban on Vick. Goodell has suspended players for an entire season just for being arrested for such infractions as drunk driving.

Even though Michael Vick’s dishonored name will eventually fade into the background with the passage of time, there will always remain the vexing question of “why”? Why would a promising athlete earning more than $10 million a year place his reputation and lucrative career on the line for a few gambling dollars earned in such a sordid fashion?

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