Quarterback Michael Vick to Plead Guilty to Federal Dogfighting Charges
Once hailed as the second coming of Michael Jordan in terms of his combination of athletic ability and potential marketing value, NFL quarterback Michael Vick has officially failed to live up to that billing.
More importantly, after finally admitting to his role in a vicious dogfighting ring, Vick has shone a much more public light on the dogfighting problem in the country while proving himself a liar and leaving us with many questions.
Has Vick learned anything from this mess? Has he grasped that dogs and animals are living things that have feelings and rights? Does he know that dogfighting is wrong and that he is thus wrong for participating in such terrible actions? Or is he merely been forced out of bounds at this point in the game where the only thing left to do is plead guilty with the hope of possibly salvaging his career in time?
If it wasn’t already completely tainted, Vick’s image as an NFL superstar and “role model” has taken a hit much bigger than anything the Atlanta Falcons quarterback ever felt on the playing field.
Vick’s defense attorney announced earlier this week that his client will enter a guilty plea to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges against him during an August 27th hearing. Vick may now face anywhere from one to five years in prison.
While criminal defense attorneys would not divulge details of the plea agreement, ESPN has detailed a source close to the situation who has said that prosecutors will recommend a year to 18 months in prison for Vick. A former Virginia Tech standout, Vick was accused of conspiring to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
The disturbing details about Vick’s involvement with dogfighting began on April 25th when investigators found 66 dogs at a Surry County, Virginia home that was built by Vick and was being searched for drugs at the time.
In addition to finding some injured dogs at the home, investigators discovered items typically used in dogfighting, including a “rape stand” to hold down aggressive dogs for mating purposes and a “breakstick” to pry open a dog’s mouth.
Vick denied that he knew of any dogfighting at the home where one of his cousins lived. He told investigators and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he was not involved in any dogfighting. Vick even blamed friends and family for taking advantage of his generosity.
While Vick denied any involvement with dogfighting, federal officials continued the investigation, which uncovered some even more disturbing details.
Investigators said that dogs that lost fights or did badly in test fights were killed by hanging, electrocution, drowning and other inhumane means by Vick and his associates. All the while this information became public, Vick denied his involvement and continued to do so after his indictment on July 17th. Vick even said that he looked forward to clearing his name on August 2nd.
Vick Didn’t Grasp that Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend & that His “Friends” Would Give Him Up!
So what prompted Vick’s sudden change of heart? Perhaps the fact that three of Vick’s original co-defendants had not only pleaded guilty to the charges but also agreed to testify against Vick if the case went to trial. Quanis Phillips, Purnell Peace, and Tony Taylor all signed statements acknowledging that Vick participated in the killing of eight dogs that did not fight well and also said that the quarterback bankrolled gambling on the dogfighting.
Now Vick is apparently ready to “accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made,” as his defense attorney Billy Martin said in a written statement. Martin also said that Vick “wishes to apologize to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.” Here’s guessing that “everyone” doesn’t involve the dogs that were killed or injured by Vick and his pals.
Following this announcement, the NFL commented that Vick’s decision to plead guilty to the charges was in direct contrast to what he told the commissioner about his role or “lack thereof” in the dogfighting. The NFL has already barred Vick from training camp this season, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has reported that Goodell will likely suspend Vick indefinitely after the resolution of his case.
As for the Atlanta Falcons, the organization is withholding comment on Vick, who is still under contract with the team, in compliance with a request by Commissioner Goodell. The likelihood of Vick playing again for the Falcons is slim to none.
If the NFL suspends Vick, the Falcons could try to collect part of his signing bonus, an astronomical $22 million. A suspension for Vick would be in default of his contract, allowing the Falcons to take such action.
The Michael Vick federal dogfighting case has been a black eye for the league that has already been struggling with character issues. With that said, Vick’s blatant disregard for the well-being of animals is ultimately the most disturbing aspect of the case.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have used the Michael Vick case as a means to lobby the NFL to include dogfighting and cruelty to animals as a violation of its personal conduct policy for players. Here’s hoping PETA succeeds on this end and that this terrible case helps bring down other dogfighting rings.