Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, 8/19/07's main point: Probable sentences don't fit the crimes


Note: This column is written based on the assumption — which is looking more true by the day — that Michael Vick is guilty of dogfighting.

Imagine this scenario, friends...

So an NBA referee pocketed more than $30,000 by giving inside tips on games to friends running an illegal gambling ring.

A bad deed? Yes. (Especially in the NBA's eyes). An irreconcilable sin? No, I don't think so.

During the same time period — in addition to a couple years beforehand — a celebrated NFL quarterback allegedly engaged in a dogfighting ring. According to other members of the ring, who have accepted plea bargains and are prepared to testify against the star QB, he was present when several dogs were electrocuted, hanged and grounded to death because they didn't perform adequately.

You know the story.

So, let me ask, which crime deserves a greater punishment? Put aside your love for dogs and/or the NBA for a moment, and be honest.

Giving inside tips to bettors? Or killing dogs?

Um, I'll take killing dogs for $500, Alex.

It's a simple answer. No ifs, ands or buts.

Except for this "but." One of the criminals faces up to 25 years in prison in addition to as much as $500,000 in fines for his actions. The other, whether he admits to the crime through a plea or takes his weak case to trial, isn't likely to face more than a couple years in the can (and could likely cop a plea for no more than a year or so locked up).

In fact, many of the questions being asked this weekend have centered around whether an NFL team will take a chance on Michael Vick in the future? Tim Donaghy's life, meanwhile, has been deemed "over" by many in the media.

Now I know life's not fair, but this borders on ludicrous.

Yes, Donaghy's admitted actions are reprehensible. It will take some genius marketing, not to mention star talent, for NBA commissioner David Stern to keep the casual NBA fan watching this season. But Donaghy didn't physically hurt anyone with his actions. That's why 25 years is a tad above ridiculous.

Vick, on the other hand, apparently showed no restraint in not only creating fighters out of innocuous dogs, but killing the live creatures when they didn't win him gambling money. So not only was he gambling, but he killed too.

Hmm... I'd say at least 10 years. Maybe more.

But it appears that a decade from now, Vick is more likely to be playing in the NFL than serving any kind of sentence. Donaghy, though, will probably be locked up, mourning those tips he gave his buddies, which only landed him $5,000 apiece (when his tip was right).

The NBA can be resurrected. Stern is a very smart businessman. He can undoubtedly bring the league back from this public relations disaster, especially considering the young talent that is entering the NBA each season. Donaghy's crime isn't the end for one of the top three major sports leagues in America.

The dead dogs cannot be resurrected, however. They are dead. Forever.

That right there should be enough for Vick — plea bargain or not — to serve a longer sentence than Donaghy.

But that's not the case, and as we all know...

Life ain't fair.

1 comment:

Tyler Hampton said...

I 100% agree with you. I think that what Vick did is horrible and nothing would make me happier than to see him behind bars for a very long time and never to play in the NFL again. I hope that they realize this. It's pretty plain to see that all stars get better treatment than your average joe. It's a lot easier for the NBA to get a new ref than it is for the NFL to get a new superstar such as Vick. They have to try and keep him in the league to maintain their publicity. It's a bad thing to happen and I would love to see it get straightened out.