It's done - well, almost. As first reported by the Virginian Pilot newspaper, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has accepted a plea deal to settle charges he participated in and funded a dogfighting ring in Virginia, his home state. It may take until a sentencing hearing Monday to find out how long he'll spend behind bars - prosecutors reportedly wanted 18-36 months, while Vick's attorneys wanted a year or less - but there's no doubt his NFL season is over.
Don't think this is a situation where Vick will serve some token sentence, then pick up right where he left off with his pro career. In fact, he may have a hard time ever suiting up again in the NFL. First, the owner of his team accused Vick of lying to him about the facts of the case. Then, consider what ESPN analyst John Clayton thinks about the case. Clayton argues it would be a big risk for any team to bring Vick back into the huddle, both from a PR and a football standpoint.
Finally, the NFL commish has been laying down the law, trying to protect his league's image. Just ask Pacman Jones, late of the Tennessee Titans. Roger Goddell suspended Jones for the entire 2007 season for a series of incidents, none of which ended in a federal indictment. What will he do with Vick, once his federal conviction becomes official?
Let's not forget the dogs, either. If you can get your eyeballs onto the latest episode of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on HBO - and you have the stomach to match - check out Bernard Goldberg's piece on the underground world of dogfighting. Riveting and revolting all at the same time, it adds incredible insight into the violence and ruthlessness of dogfighting, not to mention the bloodlust that hooks the humans who train and sometimes execute the animals.