A Mighty Fall
If Michael Vick's attorney was really echoing his client's true feelings today after the disgraced NFL quarterback was sentenced to 23 months in prison, then Vick will have a shot at redemption somewhere down the line.
Instead of coming out blasting at authorities today claiming persecution or that his client was the victim of a witch hunt, Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, said after the sentencing that Vick has accepted that he was wrong to finance and operate a dog-fighting ring, and has accepted his prison sentence as an appropriate penalty.
This seemed to be different than Mike Tyson claiming his innocence after being convicted of rape. This was a man, through his lawyer, apparently admitting guilt and accepting the time for doing the crime.
Now maybe, of course, Vick actually feels differently, and perhaps his lawyer is simply making sure the right things are said publicly to begin the process of rehabilitating his image so one day he might be able to return to the NFL and make millions of dollars. Moreover, the judge in this case didn't see Vick as being suitably remorseful and didn't give him a break on sentencing.
The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback has fallen so incredibly far in such a short period of time. The 2007 NFL season isn't even over, which means it was less than a calendar year ago that Vick was competing in the league and drawing an extraordinary paycheque from a 10-year, $130 million deal signed in 2004.
Eighteen months from now - the experience term he'll actually have to serve - he'll probably get a chance to try again. That means he could be free in June or July, 2009, with the chance to rejoin the NFL for the 2009 season at the age of 29. That said, league commissioner Roger Goodell, who placed Vick under indefinite suspension earlier this year, won't rule on any further discipline for Vick until he's out of jail, and could theoretically ban him for the 2009 season as well.
Imagine the impact this man could make on the game and his community if he does return and returns a changed man, if he comes back with honest intentions rather than a bitter snarl.
His fall from grace has been spectacular to watch. His rise back to the top, if he can pull it off and if its done the right way, could be equally spectacular.