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Vick Pleads Guilty in Dog-Fighting Case

August 28, 2007 12:54 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges related to an illegal dog-fighting venture.

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Michael Vick's explosive style of play made him one of the National Football League's most popular stars.  He was the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, and is the only NFL quarterback in history to rush over 1,000 yards in a single season.

Now Vick's future in the NFL is uncertain.

On Monday August 27, Vick pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges in connection with the dog-fighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels being run out of his Surry County Virginia home.

The plea deal offered by prosecutors recommends a 12-to 18-month prison sentence for Vick, but he could receive as many as five years if Judge Henry Hudson gives out the maximum sentence during Vick's December 10 hearing. 

Since allegations of his dogfighting ventures first surfaced in late April of this year, Vick's seen his endorsement deals and league support steadily dwindle. Reebok stopped selling Vick's jerseys, Nike suspended his endorsement deal, and trading card giant Donruss pulled Vick's card from all future 2007 releases.

The NFL has indefinitely suspended Vick without pay, and Atlanta Falcons' owner Arthur Blank called Vick's actions "incomprehensible and unacceptable."

The Vick controversy comes amid a flurry of sports scandals worldwide, including the doping scandals of this year's Tour de France and ongoing allegations of steroid use in major league baseball.

Headline

After entering his guilty plea, Vick held a press conference during which he apologized to the NFL, his teammates and the fans for his "immature acts." "I need to grow up," Vick said, "dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it."

Background

On Tuesday, July 17, Vick and three others were charged with conspiracy in connection with the dog-fighting operation being run out of his Surry County Virginia home. As a result, Vick was ordered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons' training camp in what would become the first move toward his suspension.

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The Vick controversy comes amid a flurry of sports scandals that include the disqualification of Tour de France cyclist Alexander Vinokourov following a failed drug test, an NBA gambling investigation involving a referee, and continuing allegations of steroid use in major league baseball. Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour interviews sports writer John Feinstein about the rash of athlete-committed crimes in recent years. Calling the phenomenon "athletes living in the land of Never Wrong," Feinstein asserts that athletes today consider themselves above the rules. "I often joke, but it's not really joke, that you always see athletes parking in handicapped parking places because they don't believe that sign is there for them. It's there for normal human beings," Feinstein told Lehrer.
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