Sports News

Vick football future in doubt after dog-fighting plea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick may never play in the National Football League again after agreeing on Monday to plead guilty in a dog-fighting case.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick looks up at fans after the Falcons' loss to the Carolina Panthers in Atlanta, Georgia in this file photo from December 24, 2006. Vick may never play in the National Football League again after agreeing on Monday to plead guilty in a dog-fighting case. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/Files

Vick, 27, faces up to five years jail if convicted on the initial charges related to the dog-fighting ring he was accused of operating at his Virginia property.

“Michael Vick typically does his best work when it appears he has nowhere to go,” wrote Dan Pompei in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune.

“But the Atlanta Falcons’ embattled quarterback is not going to scramble out of this one. He can’t juke to his right to find a lane, or sprint to his left and outrun his pursuers.

“Throwing up a prayer isn’t even an option -- though saying one is.”

Beyond any jail time Vick may serve, the strong-armed, fleet-footed Atlanta Falcons quarterback is likely to face further punishment from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has cracked down on players in trouble with the law.

Vick told Goodell in a face-to-face meeting in the spring he had nothing to do with the dog-fighting allegations, which included gambling and executions of dogs that underperformed.

His decision to plead guilty came after his three co-defendants made their own plea deals with the understanding they would testify against the quarterback.

“Michael Vick destroyed dogs, according to his partners in the despicable and inhumane crime, and as partial punishment, he has destroyed his NFL career,” wrote Gary Myers of the New York Daily News.

Myers speculated that Vick could end up losing at least two to three NFL seasons with an expected league suspension following any jail time.

“Depending what the NFL uncovers in the illegal gambling aspect of the case, Goodell has the power to suspend him for life,” Myers wrote about the six-year veteran and three-times Pro-Bowl selection.

“Three years away from the game should just about rob Vick of his greatest gifts -- his incredible athleticism and electrifying speed. Working out in the prison courtyard is not quite the same as training camp.”

Many columnists wrote that if Vick should try a comeback after seasons away from the gridiron, teams would shy away from a player who could be a public-relations nightmare.

“For one of the league’s most celebrated and marketable players, it’s a staggering plunge from NFL penthouse to possible federal penitentiary,” said USA Today’s Jon Saraceno.

Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons in 2004. He has had his ups and downs on the field, making dazzling touchdown runs with his breakaway speed while at times misfiring for costly interceptions.