NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn't wait long to take action on Michal Vick.
Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Atlanta Falcons quarterback indefinitely without pay, just hours after Vick filed a plea agreement that portrayed him as less involved than three co-defendants and guilty mainly of poor judgment for associating with them.
Vick acknowledged bankrolling gambling on the dogfights, but denied placing bets himself or taking any of the winnings. He admitted that dogs not worthy of the pit were killed "as a result of the collective efforts" of himself and two co-defendants.
Goodell wasn't moved and didn't bother to wait until Monday, when U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson will formally accept the plea and set a sentencing date likely to land Vick in prison for one to five years.
The commissioner said Vick's admitted conduct was "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible." Even if he didn't personally place bets, Goodell said, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."
Goodell freed the Falcons to "assert any claims or remedies" to recover $22 million of Vick's signing bonus from the 10-year, $130 million contract he signed in 2004.
Vick might be out of jail in time for the 2008 or 2009 seasons. But the NFL commissioner made it clear that Vick's involvement in a dogfighting ring and bankrolling that operation were far too reprehensible for a simple post-prison "you've served your time, you can go back on the field now."
So Vick misses 2007 and likely will spend at least a portion of 2008 incarcerated. He is expected to get at least a year and perhaps more from U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson when he is sentenced.
Next season? Forget it. Goodell won't allow it.
To the NFL, Vick's acknowledgment that he bankrolled gambling on the dogfights is even more serious. If anything terrifies the folks who run sports, it's gambling. Witness the problems for the NBA with the admission by a rogue referee that he bet on games.
"Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player," Goodell wrote Vick.
You can argue that some of this is rhetoric, but most of it isn't.
What will aggravate Vick's situation when and if Goodell clears him to play is that the public clamor will remain -- centered on any team that even thinks of signing Vick, who clearly has seen his last game in Atlanta.
Beyond that, he will be 30 years old, his skills eroded by three years of inactivity. Yes, he will try to keep himself in shape. But few players come back in the NFL after missing three years, especially players who depend on speed and quickness.
Maybe someone will take a chance (Oakland?). And maybe Vick will return with some of his skills intact.
But it's a big maybe.
One other thing he can and apparently will do is work with the feds to bust other dogfighting rings. Whether or not that will help in his redemption I couldn't say, but it can't hurt.
I can't say I care about whether or not we've seen the end of Vick's football life. I hope for his sake he can repair the rest of his life, and that ten or twenty years down the line, we can look back at this and say that something good did eventually come out of it. That's all up to him now.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 25, 2007 to Crime and Punishment