Friday August 17th at 9:00 AM will be decision day for Michael “Ookie” Vick. He will have to decide whether to accept a guilty Plea Bargain or continue to fight a mounting legal battle.
I don't know what August 17th will bring for Michael Vick, but I
do know the play call is in his hands according to The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
The newspaper said that federal prosecutors have offered Vick a plea deal that
would recommend he serve at least one year in prison on a felony dogfighting
conspiracy charge. Vick can choose to accept the plea causing him to serve a
much smaller sentence than the maximum of 5 years, but by accepting the deal he
will thus end his NFL career. According to a story in The New York Times, his
lawyers for are advising him to accept the deal. The Times report also said that
if Vick does not accept a plea deal on Friday by 9:00 AM, then prosecutors plan
on bringing more charges against him (including racketeering charges via the
Michael Vick deadline also ties into the early morning scheduled court appearance by his co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips. Each co-defendant is expected to appear and strike their own deals, which will most likely include testimony against Vick. The two former alleged business colleagues of Vick, 27, in the interstate dog fighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels", have 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) and Vick will be solely by himself. If Vick chooses to continue onto his November 26th trial date, he may be facing a case that is so daunting that not even the game’s most mercurial quarterback can out run the mounting evidence even with his 4.2 speed.
The government’s prosecution team knows that they are in the driver's seat in terms of Vick’s case and Vick would be best served to take his legal advisors advice to accept the deal and start to rebuild an image that has been sullied probably beyond repair in the NFL's and public's eyes. Vick first will need to fix his legal problems and the worry about football a distant second.
If Vick does accept the deal, 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” while the league has their own attorney and investigator Eric Holder snooping into the case. If Vick accepts the deal, Holder's report will probably only cement Vick's fate in the eyes of Roger Goodell, because it was leaked by Yahoo.com last week and later denied by Goodell that the Commish had already decided to suspend the Falcons quarterback for the whole season for conduct detrimental to the league. Vick apparently has already lied to Goodell at the NFL Draft in April about his involvement with dogfighting and he also has been implicated to the NFL's biggest taboo "gambling". With gambling being involve Goodell has the right to suspend Vick for life. I am not sure the Commish will enact that long of a suspension, but I do know if Vick accepts the deal, don't expect to see him near a NFL team for at least 3 years. 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 have to eat $6 Million dollars in 2007 and $15 Million in 2008 on the salary cap, but that amount will be 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 and after 3 years expect the machine that is the NFL to continue to roll on 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 does take the deal and is released from prison a year later, I still don’t think teams will want to sign him suspension or not, even rogue owners Al Davis (Raiders) or Jerry Jones (Cowboys) and respected GM's like Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will not take a chance on Vick due to the public’s outrage and Vick being the "face" of the despicable practice of dogfighting.
We will have to wait and see if Vick accepts the deal before the deadline, but if he does decide to accept the deal, first he will have to face prison and then after that he better be thinking Arena Football and not the NFL. I think the AFL will be his only option, because the NFL after getting rid of Vick will close their doors for good and he will even have a problem going to the CFL, because of the problem of a felon getting a passport or a visa.
--- Submitted by Lloyd Vance