Michael “Ookie” Vick Steps in Another Pile of D_____: Last Two Co-Defendants Scheduled to Plea Bargain Later this Week
In what maybe the knockout punch of the Michael Vick “Who let
the dogs fight” soap opera, Vick’s co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis
Phillips appear to have struck a deal with federal prosecutors and are schedule
to appear in court to plead “guilty” later this week. Peace is set to appear in
federal court in Richmond on Thursday (8/17) and Quanis Phillips on Friday
(8/18). The two former alleged business colleagues of Vick, 27, in the
interstate dog fighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels", decided to
follow the same suite as third co-defendant Tony Taylor, who pleaded guilty to
his role in the dog fighting conspiracy on July 30th (his sentencing has been
set for December 14th). The case was already a daunting task for Vick when
Taylor turned over, but Vick’s team was already painting Taylor as an angered
acquaintance of Vick. But now the game’s most mercurial quarterback maybe facing
a defender that he cannot out run even with his 4.2 speed.
The move by the government’s prosecution team to put all three co-defendants on their side struck a major and surprising blow to Vick’s case. Collins R. Spencer III, a spokesman and member of Vick’s defense team, said the lawyers were surprised by the plea deals. He added, "They didn't see it coming”. The question is “where does Michael Vick go from here?” He now knows the government has an extremely damning case against him and he already knows that Taylor described him as the “financier” with much more to come (in the statement it already says Vick offered purses as high as $26,000). With all three members protecting themselves and Michael Vick being the high-profile face associated to a despicable crime that is a multimillion-dollar underground industry, that the majority of the public and government want cleaned up, Vick needs to think long and hard about his future. The federal prosecutors intend to point both barrels at him and I know the star quarterback would much rather face a pass rush of Hall of Famers Deacon Jones, Reggie White, Mike Singletary, and Merlin Olsen rather than take on the government, who have an over 90% convict rate in these types of cases. Right now Vick, if convicted, could face up to six years in prison, $350,000 in fines and restitution federally with possible more charges coming when his co-defendants start talking. I am not even going to mention that there is also the daunting possibility of Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter filing state charges when the county’s grand jury meets on Sept. 25th.
ESPN.com is reporting that Vick will have until Friday August 17th to look over the mounting evidence with his legal team led by high-powered attorney Billy Martin and let the prosecutors know if he wants to proceed with the scheduled November 26th trial date. I am not sure where Vick will decide to go from here (My advice is to try and negotiate so he serves as minimal time as possible). But I believe Vick, who has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning, will decide that he has no choice but to fight it out in court. Vick has enough money and a high powered enough legal team that he could tie this case up for a while and possibly find a way to “OJ” himself from conviction.
As for Michael Vick the football player – I don’t know who is thinking about him as a player right now maybe people that have him in a fantasy football “keeper” league -- it is hard to believe that he will ever put on a NFL uniform again. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has given Vick a “leave of absence” – legal for you will be suspended but don’t come around and you will get paid – while the league has their own attorney and investigator Eric Holder investigating the case. Holder will probably look over the evidence until next week and then we will hear a commissioner’s ruling. It was leaked by Yahoo.com and denied that Goodell had already decided to suspend Vick for the whole season for conduct detrimental to the league. I believe that Vick would be lucky just to receive a year’s suspension, because he apparently has already lied to Goodell at the NFL Draft in April about his involvement with dog fighting and now he also apparently has ties to the NFL's biggest taboo gambling. Several league sources have said that the “Commish” is not happy about these issues and is ready to act. I would look for Holder to bring his report forward and then I believe Vick will be left on the sidelines for a mandated year or more. After the commissioner blesses the suspension, then look for the Falcons and their owner Arthur Blank to forget about an ordinary 4 game suspension and outright release Vick, who was once described by Blank as “The Face of the Atlanta Falcons” when the quarterback signed a 10-year; $130 million contract extension in 2003 that included a then NFL-record $37 million dollars guaranteed. The team would be within their rights as NFL contracts are not guaranteed and they would have to eat $6 Million dollars in 2007 and $15 Million in 2008 on the salary cap and they would not be able to recoup the upfront money they paid Vick, but that amount maybe well worth it to get rid of probably the NFL’s biggest legal headache ever.
The Falcons and their new Head Coach Bobby Petrino have already moved on with Joey Harrington at quarterback for better or worse (6-9 for 88 yards in a 31-16 loss to the Jets) without even a whisper of Vick’s name. The machine that is the NFL has also continued to roll on toward the start of the 2007 NFL season on September 6th without one of their once promising showstoppers. The NFL has almost 1600 players including Reggie Bush, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and others all with their own unique talents and stories, so the league is going to make sure that their overall product (the NFL) is marketed and no one player will be bigger than the league. If Vick can some how beat the growing laundry list of charges and that is a big “if”, I still don’t think teams will want to sign him, not even rogue owners Al Davis (Raiders) or Jerry Jones (Cowboys), due to the public’s outrage and Vick being "persona nongrata". We will have to wait and see where we go in the next segment of the Vick Dog Fighting saga, but one thing I know for sure is this story will not end with a good ending for Vick unless you consider playing in the AF2 league in front of small crowds as a good alternative (just ask former Cowboys QB Quincy Carter).
--- Submitted by Lloyd Vance