Michael Vick could play professional football in 2009, but he would have to shake off two years of rust and miss much of the pre-season training for whatever team is willing to accept bad publicity and uncertain performance.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced Vick today to 23 months in prison on a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge. Because Vick began serving his sentence early on Nov. 19 and federal prisoners serve 85 percent of their nominal sentence, he probably will be released in mid-July 2009.
Vick appeared in black-and-white-striped prison garb and apologized to the judge, his family and his children. Hudson responded, “I think you should have apologized also to the millions of young people who look up to you.”
The sentence was above the 12- to 18-month term that defense attorneys and prosecutors mentioned when Vick pleaded guilty, but Hudson said Vick’s initial lack of candor in acknowledging that he participated in the hanging of two dogs and in the circumstances that he smoked marijuana while awaiting trial were factors in the higher term.
Court documents suggested that Vick bought property in Surry County and built a house and outbuildings on it largely for dogfighting. Those documents said that Vick paid for the “Bad Newz Kennels” operation and divided all his winnings from gambling on the fights among his colleagues without keeping any of the money himself.
One of three people arrested with Vick was sentenced to 18 months, another to 21 and the third will be sentenced Friday.
The Washington Post has the details of the court proceedings.