August 20, 2007
Vick takes a plea

No surprise, given all the ammunition that the prosecutors had at their disposal.

Michael Vick's lawyer said Monday the NFL star will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, putting the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's career in jeopardy and leaving him subject to a possible prison term.

The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines most likely would call for less. Vick's plea hearing is Aug. 27.

Lead defense attorney Billy Martin said Vick reached an agreement with federal prosecutors after consulting with his family over the weekend.

"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made," Martin said in a statement. "Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter."

Martin later told The Associated Press he could not divulge any specifics of the plea agreement or how much time Vick can expect to serve in prison.


Martin said salvaging Vick's NFL career was never part of the discussions.

"Football is not the most important thing in Michael Vick's life," he said. "He wants to get his life back on track."

You have to wonder, though, when or even if Vick will ever step onto a playing field again. Pat Forde thinks Vick will have a second act some day, though John Clayton thinks his chances of a comeback are poor. This sounds about right to me:

What is Vick's best public relations strategy?

Vick would need to fall on the mercy of the courts and seek forgiveness from fans. He must be apologetic and remorseful. He must do public service announcements to stop people from fighting dogs. If he embraced dogfighting in the past, he must be the leader against dogfighting in the future. Time does create opportunities for forgiveness. To set a different tone for his reputation, Vick must demonstrate that he is remorseful in interviews and commercials. Along with a good attorney, he needs a good public relations expert.

The most effective spokesperson for a cause is someone who has come to that cause after suffering the consequences of his own actions. Think Yul Brynner and his anti-smoking commercial, for example. To my mind, the way Michael Vick can begin to regain what he's lost will be by being honest about the cost of what he did to himself and to others. Put that in a 30-second promo, and he could do some real good. Whatever follows from that, he'll have earned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 20, 2007 to Crime and Punishment

Every time I look at the gleam in my dog's eyes, and picture Michael Vick holding a dog's head in a bucket of water, I cringe. He'll have to do a LOT of 30 second promos to get me to ever watch him throw a football again.

Posted by: RedScare on August 20, 2007 8:34 PM

You're more optimistic about Vick than I am. He may rehabilitate his image, but I think that anybody capable of torturing dogs the way he has is fundamentally messed up in an irreparable way. He may do his penance, but I'd never put anyone - human or canine - alone in a room with him.

Posted by: John on August 20, 2007 9:24 PM

Vick begins serving his sentence ASAP and is playing football within 6 months of his release, probably during the 2009 season. Lots of NFL players have gotten into big trouble and come back...drugs, beating up girls, dwi, manslaughter. When was the last time an NFL player was banned from the league?

Posted by: el_longhorn on August 20, 2007 10:42 PM

Vick can do promos from now until the second coming and he's never going to rehabilitate his image with me....NEVER.

I suppose the good news is that John Clayton was running through the numbers of his contract and it's likely to cost Vick $83.5M dollars. It was a number that stunned the ESPN announcers. That should serve as a pretty strong deterrent to any high profile athlete that might consider moonlighting in dog fighting.

Posted by: Patrick on August 21, 2007 7:58 AM