Michael Vick accepts plea deal

by Steve Handlesman

NBC News

Star NFL quarterback Michael Vick agreed to a plea bargain deal today in the dogfighting case that threatens his football career and likely will send him to jail for at least a year.
His lawyer says Michael Vick accepts full responsibility and apologizes. He will plead guilty to dogfighting conspiracy to try to reduce his prison sentence and save his pro football career.

Vick, the dazzling scrambling quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, has been banned from practice by his team and tough-minded NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Last Thursday he said, "it's important for us to be responsible to our fans. And that we are in a position where people are watching."

Fans were already outraged by FBI allegations that Vick ran a dogfighting business at the kennels on his land in rural Virginia.

Then last week, two of Vick's co-defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to testify that Vick not only bankrolled the dog fighting business but that he personally strangled, drowned and electrocuted dogs who performed poorly.

Vick seems sure to miss the '07-'08 season. Maybe '08-'09 too. Will fans ever welcome back a felon, who abused dogs in a banned sport based on gambling?

Alan Abrahamson of nbcsports.com says, "I think there's a very strong current that is emerging in our society in which people - people at  large are fed up with athletes and celebrity's getting away with it."

More for Michael Vick to worry about as he goes to jail and tries to salvaging the football career that made him a wealthy celebrity athlete.

The plea deal reportedly calls for prosecutors to recommend 12 to 18 months behind bars but the federal judge in the case made clear the actual punishment will be up to him next Monday.