• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Vick to Plead Guilty to Dog Fighting Charges

Michael Vick’s NFL career may well be over, as he is going to plead guilty to felony charges and faces up to five years in prison.

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.

“After consulting with his family over the weekend, Michael Vick asked that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him,” lead defense attorney Billy Martin said in a statement. “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. Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.”


Martin’s announcement came as a grand jury that could add new charges met in private. Prosecutors had said that a superseding indictment was in the works, but Vick’s plea most likely means he will not face additional charges.

Three of Vick’s original co-defendants already have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him if the case went to trial. Quanis Phillips of Atlanta and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach signed statements saying the 27-year-old quarterback participated in executing at least eight underperforming dogs by various means, including drowning and hanging. Phillips, Peace and Tony Taylor, who pleaded guilty last month, also said Vick provided virtually all of the gambling and operating funds for his “Bad Newz Kennels” operation in rural Virginia, not far from Vick’s hometown of Newport News.

The gambling allegations alone could trigger a lifetime ban under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

ESPN adds:

The Falcons will not release Vick immediately; rather, they will wait to see what Goodell does and what is in the statement of facts when Vick enters the plea on Monday, Falcons officials told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. If the league suspends Vick, the Falcons could then go after Vick’s signing bonus of approximately $22 million, because if suspended, then Vick would be in default of his contract.

Sports law prof Michael McCann looks at the factors that would cause Vick to throw away tens of millions of dollars rather than risk trial:

There are myriad factors for Vick to consider, including that his co-defendants have already agreed to plead guilty, but also that it can be hard for the government to convince every member of a jury that a defendant is “beyond a reasonable doubt” guilty, particularly when the defendant has almost limitless litigation resources at his disposal and a top legal team to utilize them. And, as we have discussed on this blog, there are potential questions as to how the evidence against Vick was obtained.

Also, he believes it almost a certainty that Vick will play again. He cites Gary Meyers of the NY Daily News.

His anticipated plea agreement in the dogfighting scandal could send him to jail for 12 to 18 months. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could then tack on a one-year suspension, or more, even a lifetime ban, depending on any illegal-gambling revelations that may emerge in the case. The Falcons are running away from Vick faster than he escapes the pocket; the odds of him playing for Atlanta again ranks only slightly higher than the ASPCA naming him doglover of the year.

It’s conceivable Vick may not be back on the field until 2010 — if he makes it back at all. He’s fighting to save his career.

The question, of course, is this: When he is out of jail and his suspension has been served, will any team have the courage to sign him? His alleged affinity for the underground and his role in the despicable world of dogfighting makes him a public-relations liability/disaster for any team that signs him.

It will take an owner secure of his standing in the community to sign Vick if he pleads guilty, as expected, or he goes to trial and is convicted. Still, several team officials contacted last week all anticipated that Vick will get a chance to resume his career once his legal problems are over.

“If he gets out in eight months and the league suspends him for one year, why wouldn’t he be able to come back into the league?” one general manager says. “If it’s two years that he hasn’t played football, why wouldn’t he play? He served his time. In America, if someone serves his time, are they allowed to come back with the freedom to work? Why is it different for a football player?”

NFL owners and GMs have certainly shown a willingness to take their chances with character problems if they have enough talent and the price is right. One could argue, certainly, that Ray Lewis and others were involved in crimes more serious thank Vick’s. Still, the image of what he did to those dogs will be a hard sell to even the hungriest fans.

Of course, if Al Davis is still around in 2010, anything’s possible.

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. […] Michael Vick is going to plead guilty to dog fighting charges and faces a minimum of 14 months in prison plus a likely additional suspension from the NFL. What are the odds that his NFL career is over? […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Iowa Democratic Debate…

    What can I say about Edwards??? Everything about him from facial expressions to body language spells PHONY! And did anyone catch that delicately crooked little finger???…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Global Warming Today: Nothing Is More Important, Damnit!…

    The United Nations General Secretary has now gone insane

    Global warming is the most important issue facing mankind, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said Friday in an interview with Yoichi Funabashi, editor in chief of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Hurricane Dean Update…

    Hurricane Dean is rapidly approaching the Yucatan peninsula. The current track has the center of the storm passing to the south of Cancun near the center of the peninsula. If this forecast track holds, Cancun will likely see tropical storm force wind…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. […] to Outside the Beltway, Right Pundits, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Perri Nelson’s Website, Mark My Words, Committees of […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. New Disturbance in the North Atlantic…


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. […] to Outside the Beltway, Right Pundits, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Perri Nelson’s Website, Mark My Words, Committees of […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Shadowscope says:

    No Seperation of Church and State When It Comes To Muslims For the ACLU…

    That’s usually the last thing you’ll hear before one of my redneck buddies does something extremely stupid but this is something to check out if you are concerned about the double standards of the ACLU when it comes to seperation……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Hell Freezes Over: Chinese Law Limits Reincarnati…

    In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. […] to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Virtuous Republic, Mark My Words, Rosemary’s Thoughts, […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. BBC: TV Show Must Not Offend Muslims With Muslim Suicide Bombers…

    In what may be the height of political correctness run amok, the BBC has ordered that terrorists in an upcoming episode of a popular drama be changed to animal rights activists instead of Muslims. The BBC has dropped plans to……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Adam's Blog says:

    Bono Refuses to Face the Truth…

    African businessmen try to explain that folks in Africa need more than charity, but Bono won’t have it. He’s a musician he doesn’t seem to get it that folks need dignity and to be able to earn for themselves, and we ought to be helpi…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Because that is how my parents did it…

    Mothers sleep better if they sleep with their babies because the baby cries less, nursing is easier, and the baby goes to sleep faster and easier (allowing mother to get more sleep)…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Mike says:

    I have to say James – that picture that you posted a few weeks/months ago of the injured dog from some fight (not Vick’s necessarily) sums up the entire dog fighting issue – I knew it was a vicious sport but did not realize just how vicious until i saw that picture – I just hope Vick never lands another job where he could possibly be viewed as a hero/leader/anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. […] very heartfelt hug to readers from Outside The Beltway, Right Pundits, MoreWhat, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Mark My Words, […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Bush’s Approval Nearly Twice that of Congress…


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Right Truth says:

    Executive Sumary on 9/11…

    The Executive Summary on 9/11, completed in June 2005 and kept classified until now, is a 19-page executive summary that finds extensive fault with the actions of senior CIA leaders and others beneath them. CIA watchdog: Agency officers did not…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. AP: Young Whites Happier Than Minorities…

    Here is an interesting poll from the Associated Press and MTV in today’s Silver City Sun:
    Poll: Young white Americans are happier than their minority counterparts
    From their relationships to their jobs to their money — even from they time t…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. The Rational Response Squad…

    Or as I like to call them, the (ir)rationals. They’re that little hardcore online atheist group consisting of core members Brian Sapient (The Sap), Kelly and Rook Hawkins (Little Rookie). One of their hobbies is pimping ……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. […] to Outside the Beltway, Right Pundits, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Big […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. […] To:Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Mark My Words, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Big […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0