Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dry rot in Flowery Branch

I touched on this a little bit last night.

Michael Vick has been indicted on Federal charges related to the dogfighting investigation. The charges include conspiracy and transportation across state lines in addition to the dogfighting charges. The conspiracy charge in particular has to be troubling to Vick's lawyers as Vick's defense has been that he was never at the property.

Under the federal conspiracy statute, he doesn't have to be directly involved. As long as he has been facilitating the operation, he's got problems - and it's one of the few charges where proving that link is made considerably easier for the government.

Additionally, this isn't the incompetent Surry County prosecutor they're going against. And the federal prosecutor's office already has close to half a dozen witnesses that put him not just at the fights, but as a major player in the dogfighting underworld.

Some of the reports say that Vick could be in court as early as the middle of November.

Reaction from league offices has been...less than satisfactory given their reactions to other repeat offenders (and make no mistake, someone who is on his girlfriend's myspace page smoking a joint, and later gets in trouble at an airport over a water bottle with a secret compartment before getting indicted by a federal grand jury is a repeat offender). For many, particularly animal rights activists, the wait and see approach being favored by the league at the moment is not going to fly. According to a report this morning by Steve Wyche in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where
a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him," NFL spokesman
Brian McCarthy said in a statement. "We will continue to closely monitor
developments in this case, and to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.

"The activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick's guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts. The matter will be reviewed under the League's Personal Conduct Policy."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for the season for repeated run-ins with the law. Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tank Johnson, who was cut by the team recently, was suspended for eight games, for his legal problems. So was Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry.

Though the strengthening of the player code of conduct was aimed to punish repeat offenders, Goodell could suspend a player on a first offense and has warned Vick as much.

Goodell, who took over as commissioner in 2006, met with Vick in late April, shortly after police raided a property Vick owns in Surry County, Va., and found evidence of dogfighting. At that time, Vick told Goodell that he was not involved in dogfighting. Vick also said as much publicly then, in his only statements on the issue.
If the facts prove that Vick was not honest with Goodell, that could factor into any punishment levied.

Blank also met with Vick in early May and in a "stern" conversation. Blank said the
talk was mostly one-sided but that he would trust and believe in Vick unless proven otherwise.

Part of the new player conduct policy deals with teams facing possible sanctions for not holding players accountable for negative behavior. That facet of the policy could prompt the Falcons to take proactive measures.

If the 27-year old quarterback does get suspended this season, and then convicted of the charges he faces - he could lose up to seven years of his NFL career to the dogfighting, effectively ending his tenure in the NFL. Personally, I believe that if he even had an inkling this was happening on his property (and I honestly believe he more than just had an inkling), Vick needs to be, I'd say thrown to the dogs, but I really don't think I should make a joke about this.

On a related note, what do you think Clinton Portis would say now?


waltzingmathilda said...

All I can say, is that Vick makes me ashamed to call myself a Virginian. I don't understand how he could be so freakin' stupid when there are thousands of talented players out there waiting to take his spot.

Kevin Smith said...

There's a certain arrogance that goes along with certain athletes. Particularly if they've gotten free passes their entire lives. I'm guessing that is the case with Vick.

The idiot even had tee-shirts and headbands made that advertised the business according to the indictment sheet - if that isn't the height of the "even if I get caught, I'll get off" type of arrogance, then I don't know what is.