According to a story written by Jeremy Redmon and Bill Rankin at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will most likely join his three co-defendants and agree this week to a plea deal with prosecutors in his federal dogfighting case, according to two people with knowledge of the case.
"Vick has not made a final decision, according to the two people with the knowledge of the case, because he wants to hear from the NFL what a guilty plea would do to his football career."
Vick hired a crack legal team, giving every indication of his intent to fully fight the charges. Plea deals by all of his co-defendants tackled Vick for a loss. It's bad when you are dogged by your dawgs in federal court.
The AJC story points out that one of Vicks considerations is how the NFL will respond to the developments. One of the smarter moves Vick made was to hire Butch Williams for his legal team. Williams, of Durham, NC, represents athletes in contract law and professional league rules. He represented one of the accused in the Duke rape case. I suspect that Williams is leading negotiations with the NFL.
And it is a negotiation. The league wants to be seen as taking action as a result of the scandal. But, there are contracts and union rules in play. Like the feds, they might be open to exacting a less severe penalty if Vick waives some of his rights.
Roger Goodell's good behavior policy does not use criminal conviction as a triggering event. Repeated actions that go beyond personal reputation to taint the league is substantiation enough to act. The NFL is investigating the facts that have emerged about Vick's Ookie side to see if he violated the league's personal conduct policy.
Butch Williams would be wise to open a dialogue with the NFL Players Association as part of his efforts. The players' union is obliged to monitor player treatment by the NFL. They supported Terrell Owens' outrageous behavior in 2005. Vick has a price to pay. Both his legal team and the union will want to see that he's not railroaded. The union pretty much has to do so.
The NFL wants to sanction Vick. I'm not so sure they want to ban him. Vick is, or was, the NFL's most popular individual star. As voiced by an anonymous man who sat behind me at FedEx Field, "the NFL forgives quick."
As a black man, I am furious at Michael Vick. To waste his talent and resources on the silliest of diversions; to be so blind -- or so unfeeling -- to the savagery of the enterprise; to fail to put aside the low-lifes in his life, is criminal in its own right.
I'm not sure if Bad Newz Kennels was Vick's idea in the first place. I am certain (without knowing the parties involved) that Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace would not have involved themselves in the venture, except for the glamor of being in Vick's inner circle.
That's the biggest crime of all. Phillips, Peace and Tony Taylor might have been elevated to better circumstances, better lives, through Michael Vick. Instead, he allegedly financed their way to federal prosecution. Something about laying down with dogs . . . .
The black community, especially the Atlanta black community, has been in a quandary about Vick. Advancement and hope for African-Americans have only come through government action. Slavery was banned in the U.S. in the sixties, that's the 1860s. However, it was replaced by a system of economic deprivation and social isolation that ended about a decade after the modern Civil Rights movement. The blessings of America were not enjoyed by large numbers of blacks until the seventies, that's the 1970s.
Wide disparities in the treatment of blacks and other minorities remain in the criminal justice system. Folks get uncomfortable when it looks like a young black man is getting railroaded, whether the man is named Ookie, or O.J. The barrage against Vick feels like the bad old days to many people.
The venerable, Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, once led by Martin Luther King, Jr., considered a show of support for Vick at its upcoming convention. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Unfolding events would have made them look silly.
Michael Vick does not need their help. Ookie Vick does not deserve their sympathy.