A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Vick’s Deadline Passes: Where Do We Go From Here??
PHILADELPHIA — Well, the August 17th deadline mandated by the prosecution for Michael Vick to accept a plea bargain has passed. And unfortunately for Vick, he will now be walking the plank all alone. By not accepting the deal and his last two co-defendants flipping, the government’s entire wrath is squarely pointed at the NFL’s once most feared running quarterback.
At the Federal Courthouse in Richmond, Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta both entered guilty pleas this morning to a single count of conspiracy to cross state lines to engage in illegal gambling, to sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture, and to buying, transporting and receiving dogs for animal fighting.
They joined co-defendant Tony Taylor, who entered a guilty plea on July 30th in helping the Feds case against Vick. Peace in pleading guilty, signed a 12-page summary of facts. Included in the document were statements that Vick financed the operation and a picture was cited of all four of men in the “Bad Newz Kennelz” crew on there way to a dogfight in North Carolina with one of their prized dogs.
It’s unclear whether federal prosecutors have a copy of that photo, but the more information that comes forward the more damning it becomes by the minute to Vick’s case. The two co-defendants that flipped on August 17th will be sentenced on Nov. 30th, with Taylor’s date set for December 14th. I am sure the trio will boring much more gruesome details pointing fingers to Vick as the financier and leader of the dogfighting operation.
The offenses that the 27-year-old Vick is being charged with are already punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. By not taking the deal on the table (reported to be 12 to 14 months) on the table, Vick may be facing a blitz that is unstoppable.
I know that he wants to protect his NFL career (even though there’s no guarantee he will be let back in the league), but he needs to focus on the evidence at hand and weigh his dwindling chances of winning a case against a system that has a 90% conviction rate.
I clearly don’t understand why Vick would no take the plea deal against the reported wishes of his legal team led by high powered attorney Billy Martin. Vick is already rolling the dice and there may be more battles to fight that not even his deep pockets can help him win.
More charges are expected to be filed against Vick by the State of Virginia (expected by September) and by the Feds (as early as Monday), who are even talking about bringing in racketeering charges via the RICO Act (No this is not an episode of the Sopranos, but rather the mess that has become Michael Vick).
With all of this hanging over his head, Vick will now need to take a long hard look in the mirror. All of the allegations right now are still not confirmed and he deserves his day in court, but information is staggeringly compelling. With his NFL career in jeopardy and a more indictments to come, my advice is to take your attorney’s directive to take the plea deal.
By drawing out the process, Vick will only damage his already soiled image. As for his football career, who can even think about it right now (he sure shouldn’t be). Any outcome that ties Vick to gambling on the dogfights could trigger a lifetime ban from the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy.
I doubt that would be the disciplinary action handed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but I have heard that the “Commish” is already furious about the attention taken away from America’s passion and that Vick apparently lying to him at the draft in April when he asked him point blank if he had any knowledge or involvement of the dogfighting allegations.
Goodell has already barred Vick from the Falcons’ training camp while the NFL conducts its own investigation and with NFL attorney and investigator Eric Holder coming forward this week with his evidence. I fully expect Vick to be suspended from the NFL for at least a year and the Falcons to without doubt release him taking a $6 million cap hit in 2007 and a $15 million cap hit in 2008.
If Vick wants to fight it out good luck, but I say “Now is the time for Vick to wise up and be remorseful” and take the deal that is being offered. I know he wants to know how the NFL and public will act about a plea deal, but he needs to protect himself as Taylor, Phillips, and Peace have done. I can tell him this that the NFL a huge powerful machine, which will put him on the self and proceed without him, waiting for another superstar to emerge from their 1,600 other players.
If he doesn’t take the deal, he is look at being away from football for at least 3 years and at that point even his mercurial skills will have diminished. He will be 30 years old and his greatest asset of his speed will be gone. The NFL will do their part of trying to forget about Vick, but I know there will always be a rogue owner willing to take the public heat and take a chance on him if he says the right things and appears to have rehabilitated himself.
I think Vick will have to go the grassroots route of playing in the Arena Football League or the CFL if you can get a visa to get back in the NFL. Of course all of this pontification is conjecture, because only Michael Vick can choose to fight or face the music.
Either way this soap opera will continue and swirl around the NFL.