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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What To Do With Michael Vick

Wow, how a few months change things. When evidence of illegal dog fighting first turned up at the farm owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Mike Vick he told us all, including the league and his team owner, that it was family and friends, not him involved. Now, in a few short days, Mr. Vick will show up in court to plead guilty to federal charges related to the venture known as "Bad Newz Kennelz".

There is no shortage of opinions of what should happen to Vick, from "slap his wrists and let him go" to "electrocute him, and then beat him while he's on the ground." The prosecutors have (supposedly) agreed to ask for 12-18 months in prison for him, though the judge has reminded them that a deal between them and Vick doesn't mean he has to agree to what they came up with.

What do I think should happen to him? I'd like to see some prison time, more than a year preferably, and a large fine. As for the NFL, that depends on what he stipulates to at his hearing.

If in his paperwork he states he funded the gambling aspect of the operation, as all three of his co-defendants have claimed, then he should be banned for life under the personal conduct policy. Anything short of that would look like the policy has no teeth, and be a nightmare for the league when other players screw up. If he doesn't stipulate to the gambling aspect, unless Virginia tries him and finds him guilty of such a charge, the league will have to allow him to come back. That doesn't mean any team has to sign him, just that he'd be allowed to play. I'm not sure any team will want his baggage around when the animal rights folks show up to protest. I also think Arthur Blank, the owner of the Falcons should try and get as much of his signing bonus and other money back from him as he can. I'm sure his actions violated at least a few personal conduct clauses in his contract.

As for the dog fighting itself, I think it's a sick "sport" (as Stephon Marbury calls it). It's not like hunting, as Marbury and R.L. White of the NAACP seem to think. White seems to think (at least in the AP article) that what Vick did was only a crime because it was dogs, but he's wrong. There is a distinct difference between hunting for an animal, and training one to fight, then killing it when it fails to win. The end result may be the same, but that doesn't justify the actions leading to them in the case of Vick.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has a great commentary today about why the outrage against Vick isn't misplaced, I'd suggest R.L. White and Stephon Marbury give it a read.

Technorati Tags: Michael Vick, Dog Fighting, Bad Newz, Atlanta Falcons, NAACP, Stephon Marbury, NFL


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