Now that two more of Michael Vick's co-defendants will reportedly plead guilty to dogfighting charges, the pressure on Vick to cut a deal seems almost overwhelming. If Vick maintains his innocence, he'll have to answer the presumably damning testimony of the other three men charged in the case. And federal prosecutors can tailor their entire case toward convicting Vick.
The hints that the NFL is leaning toward suspending Vick for the season could also convince the Falcons quarterback to plead guilty. If Vick is going to serve a suspension, why not start it as soon as possible? Commissioner Roger Goodell could easily try to keep Vick out of the game for much longer than a year. The 27-year-old Vick has to start thinking about getting back to the field before he gets too old.
If Vick had nothing to do with dogfighting, he should obviously stick to the current plan. But if he did play a central role in Bad Newz Kennels, it's time for Vick to give up. He should reach the best deal he can, apologize to fans and try to begin some sort of healing process. He would be in danger of getting kicked out of football for life, but it might be worth the risk.
Even if Vick admits guilt and throws himself at the mercy of the league, his future would in part be up to him. The passion around this case will subside in time. The league will go for a lengthy suspension, but it could be lenient down the road if Vick showed an honest effort to distance himself from everything he is accused of. Vick certainly doesn't have to follow in Pacman Jones footsteps and go to a strip joint on the eve of his meeting with Goodell. Or Odell Thurman, who has to appear in court for allegedly violating his probation and was recently suspended for a second straight season.
Vick can look into the camera and say, "I did it. I'm sorry. I didn't know what I was doing. I had some bad ideas about right and wrong. I'll never do it again." Then Vick would have to follow up those claims with a few years of total commitment to community service. It sounds lame in light of how disgusting dogfighting is, but at least that would give Vick a shot at redemption.
I'd say there's still a good chance Vick chooses to go to trial. He seems determined to try to get out of this. And he knows he could lose millions in bonus dollars if he admits to anything. If that's the path Vick chooses, he could end up in jail anywhere from a year to five years. It's very hard to imagine him ever getting back to the NFL in that case. And if returning to the field is what Vick wants more than anything, you'd think he'd strongly consider bargaining before the end of this week.