Monday, December 10, 2007

Did Michael Vick get what he deserved?

Michael Vick got 23 months for his participation in a dogfighting operation at his southeastern Virginia home.
Was it a fair sentence (for the uninitiated on this blog, that's an invitation to comment here; you can also read the comments to the Washington Post story)?
Juliet Macur of the New York Times has a story online. I sure wish the Times would include time stamps (the Washington Post does, although I'd prefer a time log on update stories). For you aspiring journalists, that's how it's done these days: web first. Get the attitude if you want to succeed.
To be honest, the best coverage BEYOND the story these days is from blogs, like the Post's Mark Maske's "NFL Insider."

9 comments:

Chris Brooks said...

I do believe Vick should be punished, but 23 months is a little excessive. Yes, what Michael did was wrong and disgusting, but hasn't he suffered enough already?

It is clear he knows what he did was wrong, but what he could have done better to reduce his sentence is if he had not performed poorly on the lie detector test.

I honestly think that Vick will not serve close to 23 months in prison. I see him being released in nine to 12 months at the very most.

He needs to keep his head on straight and with good behavior, he will be out before we all know it.

Unlike ESPN.com's NFL senior writer Len Pasquarelli, I do not believe his career is over. It may not be with Bobby Petrino and the Atlanta Falcons, but he will play again.

Ricky Williams was given enough chances and he returned a few weeks ago, so I believe the NFL will welcome Vick back to the league in a few years when he is back in athletic shape.

The big question I have been thinking about today was how will prison effect his ability on the field.

It will be extremely difficult to get back to his prime shape, but he will not be too old when he is out of prison, so he will have his chance to reemerge into the NFL.

He may never be the same physically, but mentally, Vick is change for the better and will not make the same mistakes again.

That's all I have. I am no Vick fan, but I hope he does get back to the NFL one day. He is too talented not to.

-Chris

Mike Coppinger said...

I do believe Michael Vick got a just and fair punishment for his actions. It wasn't like he made one mistake that he later regretted. He ran and funded this dog fighting ring for many years. He had many opportunities I'm sure to realize the error of his ways, and cease funding. He did what too many NFL players do and young black males in particular; he continued to stick around with his friends from his adolescent days who would only hinder him. The NFL each year has a mandatory, two day Rookie Symposium to educated the first year players on how to succeed in the league, both on and off the field. Former Wide Receiver Irving Fryar stated at the symposium, "There are two kinds of friends in this world, those who want to help you, and those that want to hinder you". While it may be hard, athletes need to cut ties with friends who are going to hinder them. That said, I think when Michael Vick is released from prison, we all should give him another chance. The purpose of prison is to reform its inhabitants, not lead to a life of persecution. He did the crime and now he is doing the time. When he is released, he should be given the chance to become a solid citizen.

Tour of '03 (Steve Klein) said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Vick is not entitled to parole.

Dave Maiocco said...

As a dog lover, there is a part of me that would be happy enough to never see Michael Vick take the field again. As a sports lover, another part of me is angered at Michael Vick for putting himself in this position in the first place.

Whether it's a lack of counseling by others that would have helped him, or just a general lack of morals, Vick must have been able to see the writing on the wall as Commissioner Goodell instituted his zero-tolerance policy for law breakers in the NFL.

Whatever the case, the government has laws and sentencing guidelines in place. For anybody who wants to get into any sort of illegal activity, it's very easy to find out what sort of punishment you're likely to face in you get caught.

With those guidelines in place, it appears that yes, Vick got exactly what he deserved. He could have gotten even worse, had he not entered his plea agreement.

Is his career over? The answer may very well be yes. As opposed to state time, federal sentences are served almost to the day. He'll likely have to serve at least 90% of this sentence. So, he won't be released until after the beginning of the 2009 season.

Goodell has said he won't make a decision regarding the actual length of Vick's indefinite suspension until after Vick has been released. He's under no obligation to allow Vick to serve his suspension concurrently with his jail sentence. Goodell also doesn’t take kindly to having been lied to by Vick during their one-on-one meeting during April’s NFL draft.

Additionally, the state of VA still has yet to complete their prosecution of Michael Vick. He still faces state charges. It's a unique case, in that states will usually defer to federal authorities in matters like this. However, when they don't, sentences are usually consecutive. When Vick is released from his federal term during the 2009 season there's no saying Goodell will allow him back into the NFL immediately, nor is there any saying he'll be able to, as Vick may have another sentence to serve.

Wtih a minimum of three years of NFL quarterbacking experience gone, Vick is quite likely done. Can he stay in shape? Yes. Can he stay in football shape? No. His game as a passer has been up and down to say the least. He won't be getting experience at reading defenses during any of his time in the yard.

Somebody may give him a chance. Al Davis has always made Oakland a bit of a land of misfit toys, where many players have found success after being thrown upon the NFL scrapheap. Luckily for him, Vick is young enough to still possibly make something of himself as a 30-year-old ex-convict in 2010. Maybe he'll find a role as a returner/receiver/option QB like Kordell Stewart or Antwaan Randle El, if his natural athletic abilities don’t dissipate by the time he becomes available to play again. But, his days as a starting NFL QB are likely over.

Of course, there’s always the matter of which NFL team is willing to take on a PR nightmare the likes of which are sure to follow the signing of someone like Michael Vick. Some owners may not care though, if they think they can sell enough tickets or jerseys should the experiment be enough of a success. But, it would seem so many indicators would point to failure, and the end of dramatic prime-time highlights to be turned in by Vick.

Should we mind? The dog-lover part of me says, "No, may he never take the field again." The sports-lover part of me regrets that images like two Minnesota Viking linebackers colliding in Vick's wake are likely left for the NFL Films archives, as no more will be available for upcoming episodes of SportsCenter anytime soon.

But, Michael Vick only has himself to blame if he's become nothing but fodder for a future "Where are they now?" segment to be hosted by Bob Costas or Frank Deford.

Tour of '03 (Steve Klein) said...

Great to see several comments already. I hope my Spring Semester class is going to participate.

Phil Murphy said...

Mike Vick is ineligible for parole because it is a federal conviction. However, he could be released several months early on good behavior.

I think the 23 month sentence is appropriate. Legally, Judge Henry Hudson could have handed down a punishment of up to five years. Originally, he was expected to be imprisoned for twelve to 18 months because he has had no prior criminal convictions. The sentence was extended because he failed a drug test after agreeing to enter a plea deal.

Vick was deceptive about his role in actually killing the dogs, as well. He first stated that he played no role in the execution of the dogs, but it was later discovered that he had. Although Vick may not have 'pulled the trigger' in hanging the pit bulls, he assisted in the process of preparing them for their deathes.

That said, I feel the public outcry against Vick is unnecessary, although the crime was horrible and inhumane. Athletes have done far worse without such national disdain (see Lawrence Phillips and Ray Carruth).

Twenty-three months in prison, given the crime and more importantly his actions since conviction, is just. Hopefully he will be able to rehabilitate and re-enter society without causing any more menace or furthering his public downfall.

Dave Maiocco said...

I can appreciate the comment about how much disdain other athletes have or have not received following their of-the-field issues. I think there are a couple of factors that have gone against Vick.

One, the "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" syndrome. Lawrence Philips, Rae Carruth, Leonard Lewis, etc... none of them have anywhere near the star power of Michael Vick. Two, crimes against animals touch people very deeply. When people mess with children or animals, the emotional impact on the public goes much deeper. There's a reason that there are pet superstores in almost every strip mall. Americans are nuts about their animals.

Should Leonard Lewis be in the league? This may be questionable. But, even with severe lapses in judgement, are people not afforded the right to work if an employer will hire them?

Rae Carruth was sentenced to so many years in jail for his crime that a professional athletic career will no longer be an option for him.

Personally, I think the biggest discinction that people make - whether they are completely aware of it or not - is that Vick didn't make a bad decision to drive while impaired, or even snap and kill somebody in a fit of desperation. He didn't make one bad decision at all. He made a conscious lifestyle choice. He decided to be an active part of the underground culture of dogfighting for several years.

There is a clear pattern of behavior for more than half a decade. Personally, I think that continuing to make a conscious choice for such a period of time shows such a lack of morals and character that he needs a significant amount of mental and emotional help while he's in prison to fully rehabilitate.

But, as Dennis Miller would say, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong.

Phil Murphy said...

The "bigger they are, the harder they fall" theory is interesting. The only football players I can think of with commensurate fading public regard were Lawrence Taylor and OJ Simpson-- neither of whom had such steep declines. Nor did they have half of Mike Vick's the endorsement deals.

I don't know if that alone justifies the disdain that millions of Americans direct at Vick. It just proves that the public kicks celebrities when they are down.

Once blood is in the water, the sharks converge.

The legal ramifications and the practical end of his career as an NFL quarterback, for me, are enough. I agree that, like Leonard Little, even with obscene lapses in judgement, he should be afforded the right to work should an employer (even an NFL franchise) be willing to hire him.

I would hope, though, that crimes against people are regarded with at least the same severity as those against animals. I have been a dog lover and owner my whole life. But the additional resentment from the public is excessive.

What Vick did was horrible. Because of it he is losing millions in salary and endorsements, possibly forfeiting his career, and is spending the next 23 months in a federal penitenary-- where some of dog-loving convicts might take it upon themselves to institute some vigilante justice.

Facing all that, the Vick name need not become a four-letter word to Americans. He is being treated with similar disgust as a terrorist would. That is not to say I would let him baby-sit my future children.

He is a criminal, not a monster.

The biggest factor in the national perception that he is a monster is that this was a life decision rather than a solitary act of ignorance. Mr Maicco's point attests to that enough.

I do not disagree with what was said in response to my post. Americans are nuts about their animals and view Vick's actions as personal attacks on their own huskies and retrievers.

I just do not feel they should.

People need to take a step back from their Vick chew-toys and "#7" dog biscuits. We must recognize that this man is in the first days of what will be by far the most miserable two years of his life.

Allow that punishment to take place. Allow the opportunity for rehabilitation and repentance. And trust the judicial process to continue its fair-- and justifiably harsh-- treatment of this high-profile criminal.

Anonymous said...

NO HE DID NOT GET WHAT HE DESERVED!!! I BELIVE HE SHOULD OF GOT WAY.....WROSE THAN THAT PUSSY SENTENCE!! AND THEN AFTER THAT HE SHOULD BE SENT TO A MENTAL INSTITUTE AND MEDICAIDED FOR A VERY LONG TIME!! HE'S SICK AND TWISTED. WHAT KIND OF A [HUMAN BEING] CAN DO THAT TO AN INNOCENT ANIMAL?!? A MANS BEST FRIEND RIGHT?? ITS NOT LIKE ITS SOME ANT OR BUG OR ROACH. ITS A LIVING CREATURE THAT LOVES,AND HAS FELLINGS,THINKS,PLAYS,PROTECTS,SERVES...US. IM NOT EVEN A ANIMAL LOVER LIKE MOST PEOPLE. IM ACTUALLY ALLERGIC TO DOGS. BUT BEING A NORMAL HUMAN BEING THAT I AM, I KNOW AND FEEL IN MY HEART THAT WHAT THAT MAN DID IS NOT ONLY WRONG, BUT DISGUSTING, AND CRUEL!! TO MAKE THE MATTER EVEN WORSE AFTER HE WAS FINISHED WITH THEM, JUST COULDNT USE THEM ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY WERE TO WEAK AND WOUNDED TO GO ON. HE WOULD DROWN, OR HANG THEM TO DEATH. MOST [RETARDS] THAT FIGHT DOGS ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO MAKE MONEY OUT OF IT BY BETTING ON WHICH DOG WILL WHEN THE FIGHT. BUT THIS MAN [MICHAEL VICK] WAS ALREADY RICH!!! SO THAT FREAK WAS DOING IT OUT OF PLEASURE!!