Vick’s NFL Career Is All But Over
Wednesday - August 01, 2007
Michael Vick is done as an Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
Although owner Arthur Blank has not said as much, carefully dancing around the question during a press conference last week, there is really nothing the team can do with its embattled star. Whether found guilty of running a dog-fighting ring or not, public opinion has already convicted the man, and anyone associated with him will face a public relations nightmare. Vick is poison and people are getting out fast.
PETA and the Humane Society have called for his banishment from the league. Nike has suspended his contract, Reebok has stopped sales of Vick’s jersey and Donruss said it will pull Vick trading cards from any further 2007 releases. Then, of course, there is the Falcons and the NFL.
Vick has gone from being the omnipresent image on the team’s website to becoming almost nonexistent. Head coach Bobby Petrino said the Falcons are moving forward with Joey Harrington as the starting quarterback, and that the team is looking to bring in another QB to challenge Chris Redman and D. J. Shockley for the No. 2 spot. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has ordered Vick to stay away from training camp until at least the league determines if he has violated the league’s personal conduct policy. If Vick is found to have done just that, he will become the fourth player this year to be suspended, joining Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Chris Henry. One has to wonder if Vick still feels as confident as he did last month when he told an Atlanta TV station that, “Everywhere I go, all over the world people still support Mike Vick. Regardless of what I go through, people will love me.”
A year ago his jersey was the league’s No. 2 seller. It’s now 33rd. Sixty-five percent of those responding to an Atlanta Journal Constitution online poll said Vick should not be allowed to return to the NFL if found guilty of the charges. Talk about support.
If he is found guilty, public pressure is not going to matter as his time away from the game will be enough to ensure he never again plays a down in the NFL. Vick faces a possible six-year sentence and a $350,000 fine. Even if he serves only half that time and doesn’t face any additional league reprisal, Vick will return as a 30-year-old convicted felon who is at least a season away from even being physically ready to return to action. And all jokes aside about the Raiders just waiting to snap him up, what team would take a chance on such a troubled individual?
Vick has pleaded innocent, and his lawyer, Billy Martin, one of five he has handling the case, has vowed to prove just that. But regardless of the outcome and whatever punishment the league decides to hand out, the NFL still has a problem with the lack of anyone strong enough to stand up to the heinous nature of the crime. Leaving it up to NASCAR driver Greg Biffle falls far too short of adequate.
Emmitt Smith said recently that Vick has been targeted because of his fame. Former Vick team-mate Jay Feely says that although Vick is a very private person with few real friends in the locker room, he’s not as bad of a guy as he’s been pointed out to be.
The sick thing about this type of support is that it lends credence to the idea that athletes are so concerned with protecting their own, that they would rather publicly support someone facing federal charges for brutally beating and killing animals than to call them out for their actions. Smith, being either forgetful or ignorant, failed to acknowledge that the case against Vick began with an investigation into illegal drug activities by Vick’s cousin at the home owned by the Atlanta quarterback.
While the indictment does not prove guilt, it does detail a long and twisted path allegedly taken by Vick and his three co-defendants that began with the purchase of the home for the purpose of staging fights. Included in the charges is that the four men tested young dogs to see if they had enough heart to one day kill another dog. Page 6 of the document details four instances where animals that did not perform were killed mostly by gunshot and on one occasion by electrocution. Other alleged maltreatment includes a dog being slammed to the ground until it died.
The indictment lists one “cooperating witness” who told investigators that he sold Vick and co-defendant Purnell Peace four pit bulls in early 2002 and that Vick and Pace “tested some of their fighting dogs against other dogs owned by CW No. 1 and others in Virginia Beach, Va.”
Another cooperating witness placed the pair at two fights in Blackstone, Va., in June of 2002 and that in March of 2003, Vick and Peace fought two of their dogs against those owned by the second witness for a price of $26,000. According to the witness, a female dog owned by Vick was “executed ... by wetting down the dog and electrocuting the animal.” And that’s just through page 12 of the 18-page document. As Blank said during his press conference, “From the moment you read that indictment, it turns your stomach.”
While Blank has admitted to wanting to suspend Vick for the four game max allowed by the collective bargaining agreement, he has decided to defer for the time being to the NFL. Meanwhile he is holding his tongue waiting for the day when he can wash his hands of the freakishly athletic quarterback. Plus, don’t be surprised if one of Vick’s co-defendants pleads to a lesser charge and turns witness for the feds.
The full indictment against Vick and his co-defendants is available here
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