This morning brings up news of two potential plea deals of the legal troubles of two figures in sport, one a bit less scrutinized (and I say unfairly) than the other. NBA ref Tim Donaghy, accused of wagering on games he officiated, is expected to plead guilty in federal court in Brooklyn this morning. While Donaghy’s story has caused David Stern quite a bit of consternation, the report says that no other NBA officials are expected to be involved. Regardless of the whole deal being a one-man show, what Donaghy is forced to tell as a result of any such guilty plea will be the real wake-up call — either it will make the safeguards around the sport look even weaker, or simply prove that it was an isolated incident. This shouldn’t permit Stern and the officials to escape more scrutiny regarding the transparency of its calls and the reviewing system.
Still, the ink spilled and pages typed on Donaghy has been less than what I expected — it wasn’t a conspiracy among refs, and that lessens the “sexy” factor of the story, which is really kind of cheap, especially compared to the exposure that Michael Vick’s dogfighting charges have received.
Reports are that Michael Vick’s attorneys are trying to negotiate a plea deal on the dogfighting charges the Atlanta QB faces, with all of his co-defendants copping guilty pleas, which would inevitably involve testifying against Vick. (Full credit to D-Wil, who had this at TSF on the rumor mill well before the wires, and he thinks Vick will take the plea in order to avoid RICO charges.)
This is pure conjecture, because Vick has not agreed to a plea agreement, so I am simply theorizing on his football future, and if he has one, here. If he does plead, will he ever see an NFL roster again? Certainly not until 2009. A plea would probably mean jail time, and there will be a suspension from Lord Rog on top of that. Whenever that suspension is over, there will have to be an owner or general manager willing to take that kind of a risk in terms of public relations after Vick makes his display of contrition. (Generally, I’m not the type to question whether someone or not is truly repentant — I’m way too cynical to believe it either way.) In the rule of Iron Fist Goodell, those types of people are now fewer and farther between.
Source: Former NBA referee Donaghy plans to plead guilty Wednesday in Brooklyn court [AP]
Michael Vick To Take Plea Agreement [The Starting Five]
Vick Attorneys Negotiating Plea [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
(Donaghy Photo: AP/Haraz N. Ganbari)