Here is Michael Vick in a lovely suit, making an appearance in court. It is very well tailored and the handkerchief is a nice touch. It was a mistake not to button the bottom button, though. Not as much of a lapse in judgment as killing eight dogs by drowning, hanging and electrocution, but a mistake nonetheless.
While he proclaimed his innocence less than a month ago, he is now pleading guilty as part of a deal. The best estimates are that he will spend from a year to 18 months in jail, instead of the five years he could have spent in stir had he gone to trial. Since he is viewed as the ringleader of these greaseballs, assume that it will be 18 months. He will still be in jail when the Super Bowl of the 2008 season is played, and he still has to deal with state charges.
He is not the first pro athlete to be convicted while his career is still going on. The Baltimore Ravens have a running back named Jamal Lewis who did time for drugs, but returned to the league. This is less likely for Vick, as now both the NFL and NBA are very sensitive to the public perception that the players are a bunch of thugs. Part of this is because of many stories of dust-ups with the law by the players, some major and some minor. Another part is that the NFL and NBA have a much higher percentage of black athletes than other sports. The NFL is already floating a trial balloon that the gambling on the dog fights is their primary concern. The NFL hates gambling, except that it's okay when their friends in Vegas do it. And Fantasy Football is acceptable gambling as well. Go figure.
But more than the current crackdown, which might well be a thing of the past when Vick gets out of jail, Vick is in trouble because he has become a tabloid headline, a thing of derision like Tonya Harding or Mike Tyson. The only merchandise you can get with his likeness on it right now is the Michael Vick Chew Toy, which you can order through the link provided. (The guys who made it are giving proceeds to charity, and reading their website, I'm inclined to believe they are stand up guys.) It will be very hard for him ever to get another endorsement deal, and he doesn't seem like the type of guy to laugh along with the joke to make a weak buck when the money spigot goes completely dry. The best news he has is that he didn't have to pay his lawyers all the way through a long trial and multiple appeals. If he and his posse can keep to a budget, the money he has already made may be enough to get him through. I realize that's a big if, but I hope he doesn't become destitute, because I think it will only be a temptation to make even worse decisions in the future.
* Extra points for those who can identify the cartoon from my Top 7 that provides the quote that is the title of this blog.