Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 22, 2007

My kids hate Michael Vick. Not, mind you, because of anything he did on or off the field, but simply because on vacation, every time they turned on ESPN to get baseball news, they instead got The Passion of the Vick, repeated endlessly. (Two summers ago it was the same with Terrell Owens).

Vick's deal is no cakewalk - a likely 12-18-month sentence plus possible state charges carrying stiffer fines. In fact, I don't know if I would have let him plead to the federal charges given the state exposure. Although I can't say I see what point there is to the state getting involved once he has plead to a federal felony; is Virginia really that short on crimes to prosecute?

Apparently, Vick is cooperating with an ongoing investigation of other dogfighting rings, so analysts like Roger Cossack were wrong in assuming that he had nothing more to offer once his co-defendants pleaded out. But even if he was the last man standing, Vick had two key chips to play. First, if the investigation really had ended with him, there's the benefit to the prosecutors of being able to close a case and close it successfully - move on to other things, wrap up without a defeat or a messy, labor-intensive trial.

And second, Vick's plea legitimizes his prosecution - not a minor thing when a man has lined up the NAACP and similar groups to charge racism and witch-hunting in the bringing of the investigation. Having the man stand up and accept responsibility goes a long way in that regard.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:10 AM | Football • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)

The key will be the reaction of the NFL. If they really want to send a message to the players and fans that the thug mentality will not be tolerated, this is their chance. A substantial suspension of a year on top of the jail time would be a good start.

Posted by: maddirishman at August 22, 2007 9:26 AM

I agree, Mad. I think a 3 year suspension to run concurrent with his prison time would suffice. Vick burned Blank, lied to Goodell's face, ran a gambling ring, in addition to his animal cruelty. If he does sit for 3 years I'm not sure he has anything to offer. Great athlete, not a great QB, age and rust will not improve performance. This a 100m plus financial hit. He loses 81m in NFL income, and a nice chunk of change via marketing and endorsement rev. That will leave a mark.

Posted by: abe at August 22, 2007 9:33 AM

I thought the NAACP and SCLC support for Vick was disgraceful and presented an opportunity for the Democratic candidates to attack that support in the Sister-Souljah manner. None of the candidates have, though, as far as I know.

Posted by: Last Liberal Hawk at August 22, 2007 9:34 AM

re: state charges

As shocking as this might sound, the local prosecutor is trying to cover his misteps and gaffes and cover his behind. He bungled the initial investigation. Stonewalled and then complained about the feds taking over the case. Even hinted that there might be elements of r-a-c-i-... in the feds involvement.

Now that the feds did the work and nailed the local hero to the wall, the prosecutor is suddenly eager to lead the charge.

Posted by: hoo at August 22, 2007 10:44 AM

As far as your kids complaint, I think most people share that irritation. Whether it is ESPN constantly over playing one story as you cited or FOX/CNN running non-stop with the story of the month (Natalie Holloway, shark attacks, lost miners, etc) it bugs the crap out of me that they act like they can only cover one story/event at a time. I've reached the point where as soon as they start discussing the latest missing blonde or whatever I just reach for the remote.

Posted by: largebill at August 22, 2007 11:50 AM

Not sure if he ran a gambling ring. He ran a dog fighting kenel that bet on the fights. If he gets 18 months he will only be in prison for 10 months the rest will be a combination of half way house and probation.
I bet most here was not aware or cared to know dog fighting at the higher levels is mostly a deep south venture. Not the thug culture as it is protrayed.

Can anyone name one example of a NFL player with serious talent been baned from the NFL? If the certified team cancer and bag of rocks Jeff George was given multple chances Vick will be back.

Posted by: javaman at August 22, 2007 1:11 PM

I certainly don't like what Vick did, but caving into the PETA lovers bothers me more. I love dogs, but people are going after Vick for crimes that are less heinous than a child molester, yet they attack him more.

However, from the NFL point of view, even aside the PR issues, which are very large, the gambling issue is much more important. Anyone who thinks Vick was not involved in a very deep way with gambling on the dogs is not being practical. He didn't breed vicious dogs because he liked their teeth.

Fed jail time is very serious. Even if he comes back, it will probably be as a cornerback; you can't lose that much coaching and skill time at QB and maintain your ability.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at August 22, 2007 1:37 PM

Java, I have seen much speculation on his return. Folks referencing Ray Lewis and others. This analysis ignores the fact that there is a new sheriff in town. Godell is calling the plays, Tags is a distant memory. If Vick is out of the game for a couple seasons what's he worth? He'll get another shot, but it will be a non event for all parties.

Posted by: abe at August 22, 2007 1:39 PM

Time heals all wounds and a good PR team is better than a plastic surgeon. The thing is Vick will put butts in the seats and some teams care more about making money than anything else. The question in 2 years will Godell still be swinging the hammer as hard?
Once Vick is recasted as a reformed man, then we will know how this story plays out. We as sports fan have very short memories.

Posted by: javaman at August 22, 2007 2:05 PM

I'm pretty sure Art Schlichter was banned from the NFL. But his talent was more theoretical, whereas Vick has proved he's a good player.

I think Vick should be allowed to return once he's done his time, but whether there's a team that would take him is an open question. Al Davis is pretty old these days.

Posted by: jerry at August 22, 2007 10:18 PM

Vick's QB play keys on his legs, not his passing. Both tools will diminish as he does his time. I assume he'll sit at least 2 seasons, possibly 3. If that is the case I'd be shocked to see him win a starting job at his position.

Posted by: abe at August 23, 2007 7:57 AM

Watching the NAACP rep bloviate about their concern for Vick because they are a "social justice organization" made me think that either racism is no longer a serious problem in America or the NAACP is no longer a serious organization. Perhaps both.

Posted by: stan at August 23, 2007 1:50 PM

As has been speculated elsewhere, Vick could be a running back in the future -- just needs to keep his legs in shape while in the pokey.

Paul Hornung was suspended for a year for gambling issues, way back when.

Animal cruelty is a serious issue. People like Jeffrey Dahmer got started by cruelty to animals.

Posted by: rbj at August 23, 2007 3:23 PM

1. The fact that some who participate do more serious crimes is not a reason to make it a more serious crime, IMHO. I don't get the "some do this other thing so this thing should be twice the jail time" line of argument. Each sentence should fit the particular crime without regard to other "related" behaviors. The fact is that killing a dog, which is property, and his own property, is really just not worthy of an 18 month sentence. Neither is betting on the dog in a fight. I just don't see a federal interest there.

2. I agree that "news" channels way overplay their is the same problem that killed radio after a while. Top 40 was great until you heard the same song 500 times. Same is true of EntertaiNews. It will all go to pull technologies will find the clips and news you want, kill the rest. Gone is the day of people scheduling your news or entertainment programming for you. Live events will avoid this, which is why NFL and MLB are still prime for broadcast networks...but everything else will likely go away.

3. An NFL suspension of one year is plenty, particularly if it is beyond the time he did in jail. I've always had a problem with the plea environment, particularly fed/state lack of double jeopardy and this idea of raising the ante with new additional indictments stuff. Seems to me the punishments are so wacky and vary so widely that purely innocent people agree to plea deals. In Dallas they had people agreeing to pleas on drug charges when the drugs that were seized were planted and faked. I wonder how many people plea just because the known is better than the unknown. Crazy. I get the feeling Vick was a minor player in this thing, which his crazy family members and friends using his wealth to do this in Vick's backyard. Which ain't worth 36 months in the federal pen.

Posted by: AstrosFan at August 23, 2007 5:44 PM

One plus years in jail for killing dogs.

I like animals and I'd never harm one. But that's ridiculous.

Posted by: Mike at August 24, 2007 8:20 AM

Mike, I don't know that liking animals has anything to do with the sentencing. Anyway, today's news reports seemed to indicate Vick is playing chicken with the prosecution and/or judge. Interesting, as the judge has given indications he intends to drop the hammer. If Vick and Martin are rolling the dice, Monday promises to be as entertaining as one of his scrambles.

Posted by: abe at August 24, 2007 11:07 AM

I don't know that liking animals has anything to do with the sentencing.

Nor do I. I'm just saying that like mandatory sentencing for certain drug-related crimes, this is an example where I think our societal values are very questionable. I have a hard time accepting the fact that an otherwise law-abiding citizen needs to go to PRISON when he's caused no harm to another person, nor threatened anyone else's safety nor property.

I think what he did is despicable, but his liberty shouldn't be the price for my disapproval.

Posted by: Mike at August 25, 2007 9:31 AM

People who have killed dogs and other animals for pleasure have gotten far more than a year in the slammer. Look here for pending cases of animal cruelty. I'm not a PETA nutjob, I don't even own a dog. But there are cases where men have received stiff sentences for this crime and there were no gambling involved. Animal cruelty laws vary from state to state but it appears that the sentencing is becoming harsher for these violations.

Posted by: sig94 at August 25, 2007 2:45 PM

If the NFL lets him ever play again I will never watch an NFL game again.

Posted by: kris at August 25, 2007 5:21 PM

State charges: perhaps the Feds are going to reduce the charges and take a conviction while allowing the state to continue with the rest of the charges. That way no double jeopardy attaches.

Posted by: Flame at August 25, 2007 7:47 PM

The method used to 'dispose' of these dogs indicates some serious mental problems- I haven't heard one 'shrink' chime in on this aspect-

Posted by: midnightson at August 25, 2007 11:42 PM

Michael Vick signed a contract with the NFL that has a PR Clause that prohibits involvement in activities that the NFL finds to be morally reprehensible and that are illegal.

Let us review:
1. Allegedly: Illegal dog fighting ring....check....illegal / reprehensible
2. Allegedly: Financially backing and permitting gambling during dog fights....check...illegal / reprehensible
3. Allegedly: Torturing and killing dogs due to poor performance in the ring....check...illegal / reprehensible
4. Pleading Out: You look up the definition, too easy.
5. Fact: Staining the image of the NFL.....check.....reprehensible and punishable due to contract

I am certain Vick had an attorney present during contractual negotiations that was capable of explaining to him the meaning of this PR verbiage.

Legally, ethically, and morally Michael Vick is clearly in the wrong. His actions are one: illegal, and two: have cast a negative spotlight on the NFL (and on a thugs life in the south as it has been so elequently stated).

I would like to see this case go to trial. I believe the charges present and reported by the press will not be the only charges pursued when the Fed's finish their investigation.

Vick, like Ray Lewis, will not be remembered as great football players who portrayed themselves as positive role models.

Vick like Lewis will be remembered as an athelete with personal behavioral issues that could not make the transition from a thugs life to role model even when life presented him with opportunity.

Positive role models for kids just starting in the sport are scarce. Someone should poll law abiding NFL athletes and see how they truly feel. The poll should allow the NFL players to remain anonymous. That would be an interesting read.

The NAACP Tiger Team that scrambled and made an appearance for this. Wow! Did they miss their calling or what? Truly the legal team gives the perception that the NAACP is and are no longer prevalent. With all the social injustice reported in the nightly news, they chose to champion this cause. How utterly Ridiculous.

Posted by: Tug at August 26, 2007 12:13 PM

The NAACP involvement is a disaster. Do they endorse animal torture? It seems so in light of this position. So very odd...

Posted by: abe at August 27, 2007 11:31 AM

My problem with Vick is this is just part of a series of anti-social, thuggish, the rules-don't-apply-to-me behavior.
Let's not forget that he knowingly spread herpes to his lovers, he flipped the bird to his fans and there was the fake water bottle incident, and those are just things we know about. Sure, one incident can be brushed off, but this is part of a pattern. I bet the gambling worries the NFl much, much more than the animal cruelty charges.
He has always been overrated as a qb and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Falcons play better without him.

Posted by: Larry at August 30, 2007 2:08 PM

I think Vick should get a maximum fine and penalty, certainly because he was directly involved in the dog's housing, training, fighting and after-care. Because its a hi-profile case should not mean a judge should not hold back. I have lived in the neighborhood of a dog fighting/training house and the tenants are pure thugs and completely lacking common sense or courtesy. They openly kick the animals as if no one is watching and its sad to not see the city do anything about it because it costs "someone" money to house these animals. On that note, the assets of the criminals should be seized and auctioned to pay for the animals care or to put the animal down. Whether it be the house and property and all the inside possessions or the 24" rimmed vehicles littering the driveway. Take it away, forever. No more NFL, no more cigars to smoke while dogfighting... Make Vick the Dick the example, big time.

Posted by: Craig Kildebeck at August 31, 2007 3:08 PM
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