The NFL indefinitely suspended Michael Vick without pay on Friday just hours after he acknowledged in court papers that he did bankroll gambling on dogfighting and helped kill some dogs not worthy of the pit.
Vick, however, insisted he placed no bets of his own nor took any winnings.
In disciplining Vick, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick's admitted conduct was "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible" and regardless whether he personally placed bets, "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."
Without speaking to Vick, Goodell freed the Atlanta Falcons to "assert any claims or remedies" to recover US$22 million of Vick's signing bonus from the 10-year, US$130 million contract he signed in 2004.
A "summary of facts" signed by Vick was filed along with his written plea agreement on a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge. He will appear before US District Judge Henry Hudson to formally plead guilty tomorrow and then await sentencing at a later date.
The court documents and a statement by Vick's legal team seek to portray him as less involved in the dogfighting ring than three co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty.
"While Mr Vick is not personally charged with or responsible for committing all of the acts alleged in the indictment, as with any conspiracy charge, he is taking full responsibility for his actions and the actions of the others involved," the defense team said.
In the plea agreement, the government committed to recommending a sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guideline range of a year to 18 months. However, the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, and the judge is not bound by any recommendation.