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Friday, August 24, 2007
 
My First SI.com Column: Michael Vick's Plea Deal and Its Legal and Career Ramifications

Last week I was hired by Sports Illustrated.com (SI.com) as a columnist. My column, which will appear once a month, is entitled "Sports and the Law." I will also be involved with other SI stories relating to sports law.

As someone who has read Sports Illustrated every week since I was a kid, I'm genuinely honored and thrilled to have this opportunity. I will still be blogging regularly on Sports Law Blog and the Situationist.

My first SI.com piece is now up, and it concerns the legal and career ramifications of Michael Vick's plea deal, which was filed today. I hope you have a chance to read it.





13 Comments:

Congrats, Professor McCann. As an avid SI reader myself, I look forward to getting that issue in the mail.
- Stephen Cole

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/24/2007 6:59 PM  


Congratulations. That is truly awesome to have you writing for SI. Your article was a good read and provided nice insight into the ramifications that many people probably don't think about.

Blogger John Biggs -- 8/24/2007 7:01 PM  


Professor McCann, congratulations! SI readers are going to be blessed with the most insightful sports law expert around. You are a great hire for SI. This is outstanding news and well-deserved. Congrats again.

Anonymous Steve Botts -- 8/24/2007 9:28 PM  


Congratulations, as a lifelong reader of SI, I too would be thrilled if I were hired by them to add to their publications on a regular basis. Based on what I have previously read on the Sports Law blog, I am sure it will be top-notch.

Anonymous Ryan Kendall -- 8/25/2007 12:39 AM  


Excellent article, Professor McCann, and congratulations.

I think something lost in this mess is that despite all the desire for a punitive prison sentence, it really does benefit the taxpayer to have Vick serve his sentence at a facility with the lowest-security possible. "Club Fed" has a reputation for being easy time served, but it's also considerably cheaper per inmate compared to medium- or high-security facilities. I do not know if his sentence will mandate a restitution for incarceration costs or not, though Vick could certainly afford the $45,000 a year it would cost to put him in medium-security anyway.

Anonymous tim burke -- 8/25/2007 2:09 AM  


Prof. McCann,
I seems as though you have put a happy face on this next episode of Vick. Maybe I've misunderstood you.

Vick has used cleaver language to plea on this document, but words have meanings. When he says he "sponsored" dogs and fights, he means he bought them and paid others to bring their dogs to an arena to watch them fight to their death. He "tested" them. That means he kept the strong ones and killed the "weak" ones.

He did not admit to individually killing the dogs in 2007, but neither did any on the other defendants. They used more graphic language. He said "collective efforts" which means "all 3 of us killed the dogs". I don't think he meant he just turned on the water hose, or purchased the rope.

He said he did not make side bets and did not take the profits. He put up the purse, and taking the profits may mean cash, he clearly benefited from his successful dogs. His winnings may have paid for more dogs, more equipment, more purses.

He will be questioned in court. I do not think all this nuanced language will make the judge weigh all this in his favor. I would be furious and think he is wasting my time by using that type of language.

As far as the fed's motive. I see it far differently than you do. I don't see them as trying to nail Vick to the wall--being vindictive. Most cases are plead. This is no different. Vick has a dream team for lawyers. There is no way they would plea to somthing they think they could win. I suspect the fed case was very strong because Vick is willing to take a sentence from a judge that has a reputation for being tough, he is willing to give up his right to appeal the sentence, he is willing to take a polygraph test if demanded, he will give information on others, etc.

You don't plea if you think the fed's case in every way is not strong. In other words, Vick and his team saw the evidence and decided to throw themselves in the mercy of this judge. From what I have read, it was the defense that pursued a plea, especially after his last friend bailed on him. They had been cought off guard.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/25/2007 4:20 PM  


Professor McCann,
Howard Bryant of ESPN also wrote on the plea. He had a different view on the whole affair.

I guess it is always good to listen to more than one voice about events as serious as the Vick plea and affair.

Bryant wrote:

"For a moment late Thursday night, when the crawl line across the television screen announced the breaking news that Vick would not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dogfights, it appeared the government's case had fallen apart, that somehow Vick was prepared to stand defiant in defense of his past actions and future.

But that was merely an exercise in language massage. The truth is different, hard and justly unsympathetic.

Vick's admissions in the summary of facts filed in federal court Friday are purposely murky. Perhaps they are worded to persuade an angry NFL commissioner about to drop the hammer of a major suspension that Vick isn't quite as guilty as he once appeared. (Didn't work, apparently. Roger Goodell suspended him indefinitely later in the day.) Maybe they are intended to create an additional shade of doubt in those die-hard fans who don't want to believe Vick is the sort of man capable of electrocuting, drowning and shooting another living creature. Or maybe the words are difficult to understand simply because they were written by lawyers. But do not be fooled: Vick is guilty. He admits to gambling and to being an active participant in the torture and killing of dogs, and no massaging of the words will change that."

I think the judge will feel the same as Comm. Goodell and many of us.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/26/2007 9:07 AM  


Congrats on breaking into the SI world! well deserved!

Blogger Jimmy H -- 8/26/2007 12:48 PM  


Congratulations, Prof. McCann. We'll be reading your articles in Europe.

Anonymous Luis Cassiano Neves -- 8/26/2007 3:20 PM  


Great start! Congratulations.

Could Vick have beaten this case? Surely. The witnesses against him were not exactly unblemished characters, and we've all seen the power of money and celebrity in criminal trials (Jackson, Spector, etc.).

However, even with a speedy trial, inevitable delays and appeals would likely have dragged the process on for years. Vick might at that point have lost. But by then, a sentence plus a suspension while litigating would likely have made him too old to ever play again. The government got the better deal here, if you ask me, because they very well might have lost this case (regardless of what Vick actually did).

Blogger Geoffrey Rapp -- 8/27/2007 12:27 PM  


Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation. Animals are sentient beings - they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories.

Chaplain Nancy Cronk
Founder, AnimalChaplains.com

Blogger Animal Chaplain -- 8/27/2007 10:11 PM  


To all those who think Vick would have won, you are telling us that his attorneys did not represent him well? During his court apprearance, the judge asked him if he WAS guilty. If he realized the evidence against him? His attorneys sought a plea, not the prosecutors.

The prosecution did not depend on the STATEMENTS by his "friends." They had boatloads of forensic evidence. Vick probably left his DNA all over the chains, ropes, electric cords, and shovels. They found tons of dead dogs that were buried, and 53 hurt and injured.

I do not think Vick is a fool when it comes to his freedom. I think his attorneys gave him good advice. Now he has agreed to be an informant--and he's a FELON.

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