|Have we seen the last of Michael Vick?|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 14 August 2007 13:32|
The question now becomes whether Vick will ever play in the NFL again, and even the bravest Las Vegas bookie wouldn't offer odds on that happening.
Hard to imagine Blank or any other NFL owner hiring a quarterback who is now the poster child for animal abusers everywhere. It's even harder to imagine how the hometown fans would feel about an alleged puppy killer leading their offense.
Not that it much matters anymore. Because Vick has a lot more to worry about than whether he'll ever play for money on a Sunday again.
Finding a way to stay out of prison is now his No. 1 concern.
News that two more of his co-defendants will enter plea bargains is the worst news yet for the man who allegedly not only financed ``Bad Newz Kennels'' but was actively involved in disposing of dogs who weren't fortunate enough to be major championship material.
It wasn't even a month ago that Vick was one of four people indicted on charges they ran a dog fighting ring. Now he stands alone.
His lawyers still talk bravely about a Nov. 26 trial, but that may be purely wishful thinking.
The New York Times quoted a source Tuesday as saying Vick's attorneys have been given a few more days to decide whether he should enter a guilty plea. They're playing hardball because if Vick doesn't agree, he could face even more charges in a superseding indictment the government says it plans to bring in the case later this month.
That indictment likely would include even more gory details, though it's hard to imagine much worse than the stomach-turning tales of blood and death in the initial charges.
Vick got rich by making tacklers miss him. But, even with expensive attorneys at his side, it's hard to see how he's going to escape the government's grasp.
He's basically left with two choices, neither of them very appetizing: Plead guilty and hope for less than the five years; go to trial, listen to his former buddies tell all, and risk even more prison time.
He might have been willing to take his chances at trial against the testimony of one of his co-defendants. But now all three can be expected to occupy the witness stand if Vick goes ahead with a trial.
And to think that only a few months ago all Vick had to worry about was a funny-smelling water bottle at the airport and a few one-fingered salutes to fans.
There's little doubt the feds are making an example out of Vick to send a message that they have little tolerance for something so gruesome. He's not the first athlete to face charges associated with dog fighting - the NBA's Qyntel Woods pleaded guilty in January 2005 to animal abuse, and former NFL players LeShon Johnson and Todd McNair were also charged in separate cases. But he is certainly the highest profile player.
Vick was once the face of the Atlanta Falcons, a brilliant if sometimes erratic quarterback who was rewarded with a $130 million contract a few years back. Now he's the face of another so-called sport, where dogs are groomed to fight to the death and the ones who don't perform are put to death.
His endorsements are nearly gone, and his career is almost certainly over. Millions of people who have never met him hate him, and now even his posse is deserting him.
He's cornered in a pit of his own making, with no escape in sight.
Like some of the dogs found on his estate, he doesn't have much fight left.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org