The feds care much less about the particulars of the plea than Vick does, of course, given what they might mean for his career. Still, I’m surprised: they were threatening to add racketeering charges to the indictment last week if he didn’t plead out. Now, allegedly, they’re going to let him walk away without copping to any of the nastiest stuff. I wonder if he threatened to rescind the deal and take his chances with a trial if they didn’t. Although in that case, why wouldn’t the feds call his bluff? They’ve already got three co-defendants rolling over on him.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dog fights, as detailed in his indictment, when he enters a guilty plea in a Richmond, Va., federal court Monday, a source close to the case has told ESPN. Instead, the one count of conspiracy that Vick will plead to will admit guilt to the charge of interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting.

The source told ESPN that Vick’s defense team met with federal attorneys Thursday afternoon to determine the “summary of facts” to which Vick will plead, and that his attorneys believed they had a deal. The source said Vick maintains he never killed dogs and never gambled on a dog fight.

He will admit he was present when dogs were killed, but that he did not personally kill any of the dogs.

I guess between the co-defendants’ own shadiness, the celebrity sympathy Vick would get from a jury, and the heat they’re getting from the NAACP, among others, the prosecution figured a trial would be riskier than thought. Probably right, too. The question is, is Roger Goodell going to follow the hard-ass zero-tolerance Kenesaw Mountain Landis example and ban him notwithstanding the legal outcome or will he use the non-admissions as a pretext to save the career of one of the league’s star attractions? According to the ESPN article, assuming a one-year suspension to follow his sentence, he’d be out for two seasons and pushing 30 by the time he came back. Hello, Oakland!

The AJC’s got an interview this morning with his father, a disgruntled former substance abuser currently estranged from Vick, who insists that his son was indeed very much into dogfighting. Believe him or not, your call:

Michael Boddie, in two sometimes tearful interviews with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week, said some time around 2001 his son staged dogfights in the garage of the family’s home in Newport News, Va. Boddie also said Vick kept fighting dogs in the family’s backyard, including injured ones — “bit up, chewed up, exhausted” — that the father nursed back to health…

“I wish people would stop sugarcoating it,” Boddie said. “This is Mike’s thing. And he knows it.”

He “likes it, and he has the capital to have a set up like that.”…

Boddie said he cleaned out the home’s garage three times in 2001 to make room for dogfighting sessions held by Vick and his friends.

“I hung around long enough to actually walk in there when an actual dogfight was going on,” Boddie said, but he added that he didn’t stay long.

“It wasn’t my thing,” he said.

He said he had already witnessed test fights of dogs — in which dogs battle to see how well a prospective fighter will perform.

“It’s really something to stand there and watch. You have to have the stomach for it,” he said.

He says eight dogs were kept on the property. A neighbor says she only saw one, and heard nothing.

Update: Semi-related, somehow a parody site slipped through the multiple layers of painstaking fact-checking at MSNBC. And not for the first time, either.

Update: Here’s the plea agreement via the Smoking Gun. No admission to gambling (although he does admit to laying out the money for others to gamble), but click and scroll for dog-killing nuance!

The question now: What to do with his dogs?

Update: Slublog sends the screencap of the key passage for ease of reference. Note the reference to “collective efforts.”

vick1.jpg
vick2.jpg

Update: About that toned-down plea agreement — it didn’t work.

“Your admitted conduct was not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible. Your team, the NFL, and NFL fans have all been hurt by your actions.”

“Your plea agreement and the plea agreements of your co-defendants also demonstrate your significant involvement in illegal gambling. Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL Player Contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player.”…

“I have advised the Falcons that, with my decision today, they are no longer prohibited from acting and are now free to assert any claims or remedies available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or your NFL Player Contract.”