In an attempt to return to the NFL as soon as possible, Michael Vick appeared in court yesterday to face the music:
Michael Vick pleaded guilty yesterday to a state dogfighting charge in Sussex, Va., and was sentenced to a suspended jail term.
The resolution of the state charges against Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who is serving a 23-month federal prison sentence and is on indefinite suspension by the NFL, could hasten his prospective return to football. With no further charges pending against him, Vick becomes eligible to serve the final portion of his federal prison sentence in a halfway house.
“I want to apologize to the court, my family and to all the kids who looked up to me as a role model,” Vick told the judge during yesterday’s hearing, according to the Associated Press.
Getting into a halfway house may not signal Vick’s return to the NFL. For that, he will need the blessing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
But there’s no guarantee when or if he’ll get into a halfway house, and a messy bankruptcy case is just beginning to make its way through the court.
Once the NFL’s highest-paid player, the 28-year-old Vick has lost nearly all the record-breaking $130 million from a 10-year deal he signed with Atlanta in December 2004.
Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled out reinstating Vick, he hasn’t said he will.
“Mike takes full responsibility for his actions and is ready to move forward and will let his actions speak for him,” Vick’s agent Joel Segal said outside the courtroom. He wouldn’t talk specifically about Vick’s NFL future.
$130 million lost, ouch. I wonder if he is eligible for a government bailout…
If Vick does come back, which NFL team will take him?
Upon release from prison, Vick plans to apply for re-instatement to the NFL. The NFL would not comment on Tuesday’s proceedings, according to spokesman Greg Aiello. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on record as saying Vick won’t play for the team again.
The Falcons will have the option of releasing him and taking a major salary-cap hit. They also could attempt to trade Vick, like Dallas did with embattled Tennessee cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones last season.
“Mike is working out and staying in great shape,” said Joel Segal, Vick’s agent. “We talked yesterday, and he told me he was about 208 [pounds] and he looked great.”
There will be controversy surrounding any team that acquires Vick.
“I hope they’re prepared to face the dog lovers of America,” Kansas City president and general manager Carl Peterson said. “There are going to be a lot of problems. People love their pets, and particularly dogs. There will be protests, people expressing their thoughts — even though he’s served his time.”
You can bet there will be controversy. He will have been away from the game for 2-3 years and be trying to play the toughest position in football. I’m sure he has done a good job “staying in shape,” but prison shape and NFL game shape are two very different things. Add to that the stigma of having a quarterback who admitted to throwing family pets into the ring with vicious attack dogs to watch them get mauled and you will have a tough sell to the fans.
In the end, I’m sure some team will take a flier on Vick because of the potential up-side he has. Personally, I don’t think you are given that many chances for greatness in your lifetime and I’m not sure Vick deserves to take a spot that may prevent another more deserving individual from fulfilling their dream.