Vick to plead guilty
Michael Vick's lawyers said Monday that the embattled Atlanta Falcons' quarterback will cooperate with federal prosecutors and plead guilty to dogfighting conspiracy charges, ESPN reports.
Amidst criticism from animal-rights activists, National Football League administrators, and law enforcement officials, the NFL star could now face up to $250,000 in fines, five years in jail, and a long suspension, if not permanent expulsion, from his lucrative career.
Vick may have announced his plea just in time. Less than a month after he pleaded not-guilty amid a circus-like atmosphere in Richmond, a grand jury met Monday to consider possibly bringing more charges against the Newport News native and former Virginia Tech star, including racketeering. Three of Vick's co-defendants have already made deals to testify against him.
The announcement of the plea, though likely to reduce Vick's sentence and rule out additional charges, is more bad news for his multi-million dollar career that hangs in the balance. When dogfighting allegations first surfaced, Vick personally assured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Now he has been caught in what appears to be a high-profile lie to the league czar and others.
Although the NFL is still conducting its own investigation and Commissioner Goodell has yet to hand down any punishment more severe than banning Vick from Falcons' training camp, allegations of betting on dog fights spell further trouble for Number Seven. Under NFL personal conduct policy, all gambling is strictly forbidden, and breach of these rules results in a lifetime ban from the sport.
The debates of those who have followed the Vick saga have almost certainly changed quickly in the past week. It's no longer a question of "Will he go to jail?" but "For how long will he go?" And no longer will sports columnists and pundits debate his credentials as a pocket passer or critique the modern role of the running quarterback, but instead people will ask the question, "Will Michael Vick ever again play football on the national stage?"