Friday, August 31, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
"Those who demonstrated for Vick supported him as an athlete and man while those protesting against him were against animal cruelty . . . ."]
Monday, August 27, 2007
Michael Vick's immediate future is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. Vick appears before the bench today to formally enter his guilty plea. Vick filed his statement with federal prosecutors Friday acknowledging that the government "would prove its case beyond reasonable doubt." The statement of Vick's Ookie side may be read on The Smoking Gun.
Michael Vick is compiling quite an archive at The Smoking Gun.
Give Vick his due process
The prosecution's statement accompanies Vick's guilty plea. In it, they say Vick acknowledges that, by entering his plea, he is waiving his legal "due process" rights, which are:
- the right to plead not guilty and to persist in that plea;
- the right to trial by jury
- the right to be represented by [legal] council
- the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, to be protected from compelled self-incrimination, to testify and present evidence, and to compel the attendance of witnesses.
Due process is a legal term. When Vick's Atlanta supporters cry out for his due process rights, they are referring to his shattered reputation based on news releases. They buy into Vick's initial denials of involvement even as mounting evidence exposed Vick's series of lies. [That ends today, of course.] And they want him to play football, before, during and after the fallout of the ugly episode. After all, "they're just dogs."
These are p.r. issues, not legal ones. Mr. Vick is well represented by council. Both his signed statement and the prosecutor's written statement acknowledge Vick's due process.
They were just dogs
Because they were just dogs, Vick is looking at 12 to 18 months rather than life imprisonment (see Carruth, Rae).
The real deal
Vick agreed with the prosecutors to waive his right to appeal, if the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson varies from the prosecution's recommendation. And he agreed to pay any monetary penalties immediately.
Vick will also pay for the disposition of Bad Newz Kennels stable of dogs now in government custody. The dogs are the subject of a civil action known as United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs, Case No. 3:07CV397. That involves "all costs associated with the care of the dogs . . . , including, if necessary, long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of the animals as may be directed by the judge in that case."
He agrees to give up any ownership interest in the Bad Newz dogs.
Vick agrees to cooperate truthfully with the prosecution in future grand jury testimony and pre-trial conferences (presumably against others); to submit to polygraph examinations; to fully debrief the government on the details of his operation and of other dog fighters that he may know of. His signed statement of fact was sufficient to support his plea deal. He knows more and he agrees to tell all.
Any violation of any law by Vick will affect his reduction of sentence.
Vick agrees that, if he does not cooperate truthfully, his statements may be used against him in future prosecution. He effectively waives his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
These provisions must be hard for Vick. He was reared in a socio-economic strata that views the Man with deep suspicion, born of ham-handed treatment by the law. Cooperation with the police is seen as almost traitorous. I have no idea of Vick feels that way. ESPN's Howard Bryant touched on this his lengthy piece Vick's next role is an unsavory one: Government informant.
"He may be called a snitch, but aiding federal authorities is the most honorable thing for this disgraced man to do at this late date. It could even be the beginning of his redemption."
Bryant's story speculates that Ookie could provide so much new evidence about the underground dog fighting culture that he could escape jail time altogether. I'm not sure about that one, but Bryant points out that the deal means that Vick would have to rat out other NFL players involved in dog fighting.
Commissioner Goodell's problems in this area may only be beginning.
Friday, August 24, 2007
UPDATE: NFL Suspends Vick Indefinitely for "cruel and reprehensible" conduct.
Vick files plea admitting to dogfighting.
This does not end the story, only the chapter. Billy Martin, Vick's lead attorney, says his client will speak to the public about his role that Martin says is different than that of the other defendants. That, my friend, is what you call "theater."
Michael Vick plead guilty to conspiracy charges and acknowledged that he bankrolled the Bad Newz Kennels operation, including paying the gambling losses of the group. However, Vick denies a hand in the actual killing of dogs and in placing any bets.
Ten questions for Michael Vick:
- What the &%#$ were you thinking?
- What lessons have you learned from this experience?
- Who initiated the Bad Newz enterprise, you or your co-defendants?
- What was your reaction when your co-defendants changed their plea and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution?
- What are your true views about dog fighting today? Do you think people make too much of it? Is it a sport?
- You've lost your good name. What's your plan to get your reputation back? Do you understand why people reacted as they did when the story broke?
- How will you factor ethical choices as you make personal decisions in the future?
- Dog fighting has emerged as an activity of an urban criminal element. Are you a thug, or just a thug wannabe?
- Your lawyer says your role was different that that of the co-defendants. How does that justify your participation in this enterprise?
- Should personal conduct have any role in determining if an athlete should play professional sports? Why, or why not?
Question, from ExtremeSkins.com chat session with Washington Redskins QB Jason Campbell:
"What improvements have you seen in Brandon Lloyd's game since the end of last season?"
"Overall I think Brandon Lloyd’s attitude has been a big improvement this season. He’s been dedicated to coming out and trying to participate in practice and go full speed. It’s carrying over to the field for him right now. His development in the offense has also improved. He’s running great routes right now. He’s a speedster, so his main thing is that he can get down field for us to help stretch the field, help stretch our passing game. He can be a tremendous asset. He’s just got to continue dedicating himself."
The Redskins have reverted to type and started bringing in experienced players to audition for a spot with the team. Maybe they are not seeing enough from the rookies. Or, maybe they just see guys like Randall Godfrey as depth role players. I doubt that one could cast Todd Pinkston in that mold. Running backs who are past 30, like Fred Beasley, are pretty much on the downward arc of their career [see Davis, Stephen].
What I find interesting, without being critical, is that Godfrey, Pinkston and Beasley were free agents who did not play last year. News reports say that the Skins courted Godfrey all thought the offseason, but Pinkston and Beasley would have jumped at the chance to be here sooner if only for more time to learn the playbook.
So why weren't they here before now? You allocate your OTA and training camp slots to players you think will develop over time. That's seeding the future. As they are released, you look at vets, "known quantities", who can fill spots. Of the four 30+ players recently added to the roster, only Godfrey and Pete Kendall are likely to stick. The Redskins will vote Pinkston and Beasley off the island if an more interesting vet gets cut from the active roster of some other team.
Yeah; that's it.
We've seen this before around here, only this time it's basketball player Stephon Marbury who lamented that Michael Vick was being charged with the sport of dog fighting while others kill Bambi for sport and get away with it.
Marbury didn't exactly use the Bambi device (that's mine). Marbury was actually quoted as saying
"I think it's tough," Marbury said, according to Albany TV station Capital News 9. "I think, you know, we don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."
Marbury has already backed off the contention when he said Vick "should be punished" and stating that his comments should be put "in the right context."
"It is not uncommon for my comments to be misconstrued in the media," the Knicks point guard wrote in a statement released by the team. " ... What Michael Vick did was wrong and he has admitted his guilt. He should be punished. However, he should be given a second chance as others have received for more serious crimes."
Anthony Brown dealt with the dog fighting as sport in a essay Blood Sports are Savagery, not Fair Competition that appeared on MVN.com. You an find it here.
Greg Hansen, columnist for the Arizona Daily Star points out that "the deer that are killed are not left to rot in the forest. They are harvested very carefully and subsequently find their way to dinner tables everywhere." He adds "Deer hunting can be and often is a dangerous endeavor. But unlike dog-fighting, it is not inherently a malicious one."
Like Marbury, I'm a kid from the inner-city. Hunting is not part of my cultural DNA. I've known and befriended hunters and talked with them about the activity. I sort of get it that there is an ethic about hunting that is absent from dog fighting and other so called blood sports.
I also understand that maybe that sense is beyond Marbury's and Clinton Portis' experience. I suspect their real beef is that Michael Vick may be banned from football for life. As athletes who committed their lives to their sport, they must empathize with Vick on that one.
They would argue that ability alone should be the sole determination of an athlete's right to play. What society is telling them through Ookie and Pacman and others is that more is expected than ability. It's a cool idea not to offend paying customers, both fans and sponsors. I'm not sure they like that.
Stephon shouldn't worry. The NFL forgives quick. Michael Vick will play again somewhere. There is one team that has always been a haven for social misfits with a bad boy image. If that JaMarcus Russell kid doesn't work out, Michael Vick could just fit the bill for the Oakland Raiders in three years or so.
Oh, NOW Surry County wants to aggressively prosecute Michael Vick on dog fighting charges. So says Commonwealth Attorny Gerald Poindexter in a story in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Poindexter, whose deliberate pace of investigation probably triggered the federal government's more active participation, says he will base his case, in part, on evidence developed in the fed's prosecution of Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels co-defendants.
That's no more helpful now than was Surry County's snail's pace effort before. All the more so because it gives Vick's defense team something more to think about as they craft his guilty plea to federal charges. Now they must avoid any admission that could weaken Vick's defense to State charges.
In football, there is a penalty for late hits. There should be one here too. Justice is best served by having Vick admit to everything in one swoop. That does create the situation where Vick is guilty of the conspiracy, but not charged with the underlying crime.
State charges should have been lodged first, or at least concurrent with the federal indictment. Now, State charges are anti-climatic and complicate matters for the feds as much as for Ookie. I think Vick's guilty plea this Monday will be less comprehensive than it might have been before Poindexter's announcement. [UPDATE: Vick will deny killing dogs]
The newspapers make a point of saying that States can level charges based on federal evidence. Such steps are not double jeopardy under the Bill of Rights because the accused faces different charges under a different, but related, set of facts. Double jeopardy is a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
That's the wrong angle for this story. The Bad Newz guys are pleading guilty to federal charges and admitting to the criminal facts that violate Virginia law. To use those guilty pleas in State charges now seems like a violation of the Fifth Amendment prohibiting self-incrimination. I don't see how the State can get away with that. But, I'm not a lawyer. I just watch them on TV.
Surry County, so slow to move in the case before, should move slowly now. Better yet, drop the case if Vick admits violating Virginia law in his federal plea. Lets not make this prosecution a persecution.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Damn! You nurture an idea, sniff out the drama behind the story, post about it chapter by chapter until it reaches the dramatic high point, then your computer crashes.
On the weekend that Michael Vick reached the momentous decision to acknowledge his guilt in bankrolling a large-scale dog fighting ring, my poor PC was infected by a massive virus attack and crashed. It's being serviced (I'm writing this on a borrowed machine), but my access to Running Redskins is severely restricted until the problems are fixed.
I hope to be back in business by Monday. For the latest Redskins news, see the outstanding bloggers on the list to your right. For the latest in the Micheal Vick saga, see Michael Wilbon's article Brought Down by Arrogance. Wilbon touched on some themes I wanted to write about Monday.
Bear with me as I work through this.
Posted by Master4Caster at 11:28 PM
Friday, August 17, 2007
Michael Vick's last two co-defendants in federal conspiracy dog fighting charges changed their plea to guilty this morning before the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia.
Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta face sentencing of up to five years on the charges. Both signed statements acknowledging that all of the facts in the federal indictments against them were true, and that they would cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Vick.
CNN reports that the statements included details that Vick joined the two defendants when they "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions" in April of this year by methods such as hanging and drowning. Vick met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in late April and denied any involvement in dog fighting.
The feds threaten to file superseding charges against Vick next week when a federal grand jury will be empaneled. Those charges are likely to include racketeering charges. They have offered Vick a plea deal that would call for Vick to spend a year or less of jail time. No agreement was reached by Noon today.
Vick apparently is weighing the impact of a guilty plea on his ability to return to football at the end of any sentence. His agreement to a plea deal depends on what he thinks he hears from the NFL about his future.
Vick has contract law and the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement working in his favor. The NFL does not have sole discretion to just drop him. The league owners agreed to restrict that right last year -- mistakenly, I think -- to reach the new contract with the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA objected to the disciplinary actions that Philadelphia Eagles used against Terrell Owens.
Working against Vick is the additional charges the fed intend to file. Racketeering and gambling charges are serious business. The league suspended Paul Hornung for a year for gambling. The NFL might be persuaded to limit itself to an eight game suspension for a dog fighter. Racketeering could get you banned for life.
It seem unlikely that Vick would plead guilty to racketeering. If a plea is coming, it will be before the more serious charges are filed next week.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
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.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Vick is the only defendant who has not reached a plea deal. His lawyers met with federal prosecutors Monday. They planned to discuss options with Vick after the meeting. The feds are giving Vick until this Friday to accept a deal, or face additional charges in the case.
"One thing's certain; quarterback Michael Vick is not getting traded. He's not getting cut. He's not going anywhere. Barring injury, Vick is the Falcons' starting quarterback."
Monday, August 13, 2007
The Washington Redskins signed inactive wide receiver Todd Pinkston to a contract. Here's what I remember of Todd Pinkston (Eagles @ Redskins, December 2004):
Pinkston later caught an 80 yard bomb from Donovan McNabb in the game won by the Eagles 17-14.
But, Pinkston? Tell me, please, how Pinkston solves the problem of under-performing wide receivers.
EA Sports is days away from releasing Madden 2008, and a couple of promo videos featuring Redskins are up on YouTube.
Hitstick 2.0 has cameos of Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor.
Spectacular Catches has a brief scene of Santana Moss doing a one-hander.
Shout out to MDS at AOL Fanhouse for the lead.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Rich Gosselin, NFL Columnist for the Dallas Morning News (of all places) Points out that the Washington Redskins have the NFL's longest running sellout streak. The streak dates from 1967 and is up to 304 games and counting.
Gosselin's column mentioned a name I haven't heard in many-a-year, under-used running back A.D. Whitfield. Otto Graham used him as a change-of-pace back. I liked watching Whitfield play, but an October 2, 2004 Robert Janis story points out that Graham preferred bigger backs, apparently viewing 5-10 Whitfield as a 198 pound weakling; this despite his 5.1 yards-per-carry in 1966, and 13.7 yard receiving average in '67.
In the Redskins 72-41 whuppin' of the Giants (1967), Whitfield carried the ball four times, scoring three touchdowns.
Graham was a legit NFL legend, but his previous coaching experience was with the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. At 17-22-3, he was not the change agent the team expected, because (I suspect) of questionable use of personnel, like Whitfield, and neglect of the defense. Edward Bennett Williams replaced the legend with a bigger legend -- Vincent T. Lombardi.
Alas, Whitfield did not survive Lombardi, who went instead with Larry Brown and Charlie Harraway. In the sixties, when the Skins could score, but make no stops, Whitfield was one of the giants who, along with Jurgy, Taylor, Mitchell and Huff, gave the faithful something to cheer for on Sundays.
To see Whitfield's story in depth, see What Ever Happened to A.D. Whitfield?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Finally, at last, live football. Who cares that it doesn't count in the records. It's important.
Last year, the Redskins were cavalier about preseason games. They hardly game-planned the competition, or prepped for the contest. So sure were they of their new schemes, that they kept them hidden and off opposing teams games tapes.
It took the Minnesota Vikings exactly one half of the first regular season game to figure out the new playbook. The season was down hill from there. We found that every flaw we saw in the regular season was in plain view in the preseason.
The team acknowledged that ego and arrogance was at the heart of that. Joe Gibbs, who said regularly through the season that "it all falls on me," promised changes this season, including a new approach to preseason games.
Preseason games don't count, it's true, but execution of the plays is critical. Look at the stats, not the score. What was the average rushing yards per attempt? What was the average passing yards per attempt? Was the percentage of pass completions over or under 60? Was the ratio of touchdown passes-to-interceptions 2:1? What was the percentage of third-down conversions for the Redskins and the other team? Were the Redskins in the lead when the first team left the field?
These thing tell you how well a team executes. In preseason, it matters not if you win or lose. It's how you play the game.
Happy first anniversary to The Curly R blog. Ever since Ben Folsom started it, he raised the standards and the prestige of the Redskins blogging community. His writing is unmatched for insight and depth.
How I hate him. ;-) Thank you folks. I'll be here all week.
I'm not a journalist, or a professional writer -- not yet anyway. So, a site like The Curly R is helpful in picking up tips on sources, structure and interviewing. It was the first blog where I noticed photo attribution and learned to the same. So, thank you, Ben, for all that you do!
You will find The Curly R and the other fine Redskins blogs on the blogroll to your right.
The Redskins - Titans preseason game will be broadcast locally on channel 7. The Redskins site has a preview of the game here. See the Tennessee Titans preview of the game here.
Hog Heaven has two fine pieces up on the Washington Redskins defense. Greg Trippiedi's article examines the Redskins run defense. Anthony Brown asks five questions about defense. We will start to get some answers tonight.
Photo: www.haruth.com from here.
Monday, August 06, 2007
"Looking toward the future, I would cut or trade Collins and work with Bramlet and Palmer. I am deeply suspicious of the Redskins' intentions for Bramlet. First he 'wasn't invented here,' meaning the Skins didn't draft him. He was a free agent pick-up after his release by the Bengals. He played at a small school (Wyoming).
"Second, I don't know how to evaluate NFL Europa teams. I didn't see them play and never heard of any of the players except the few sent there by the Redskins (Remember Hamden? Just disappeared, didn't he.). I wonder how a NFL Europa team would match-up against a BCS team.
"That's the issue. World Bowl MVP is news worthy, but not very impressive to NFL front offices. Casey Bramlet: undiscovered talent, or the next Tim Hasselbeck?
"You could ask the same question about Jordan Palmer. The only way to tell is to give them more reps and game time. There's not enough reps or playing time to go around, so I think the Redskins will go with the one they drafted."