Michael Vick’s journey from the NFL to a jail cell

I watched CNN this morning as they announced that Michael Vick had been sentenced to 23 months incarceration for his part in organizing illegal dog fighting and animal abuse. I have never been a star quarterback so I do not know how it feels to go from being a NFL superstar to a Felon, but I bet it can’t be easy.

There’s not much upside to this story either. The sentencing Judge, Henry E. Hudson, was not buying the idea that it had been a “momentary lack of judgement.” He described Vick as being a “full partner” in the crime. He also told him that he owed an apology to the young children who used to look up to him as a role model.

As if all of this humilation was not enough, Vick is still liable to be prosecuted under State Law. Other than an acquital, which is highly unlikely after his conviction in Federal court, the best he can hope for is to have all of his State sentence run concurrently (at the same time as the Federal time).

I recently wrote about Risk Management. For the life of me, I do not understand why one of the highest earning super stars in the NFL (his 10 year contract was reportedly worth $130,000,000.00)would not hire personal security consultants to keep him out of trouble. While a personal protection agent’s main role is usually keeping his client safe from outside threats and attacks, in the case of celebrities, this often means keeping them safe – from themselves.

A colleague and I were talking last year about an assignment that involved protecting a world famous boxer who had a penchant for getting into trouble. He said that he never worried about anyone attacking his client, but he constantly worried about his client getting into trouble. This was most especially the case where females were involved. As a result he was like a baby sitter and was never able to take his eyes off of the client (baby) for more than a second. He said the money was great, but in the end it just wore him down too much.

Guys like Vick are really to be pitied. Most of them go from relative obscurity and poverty to overnight stardom. Which of us would not fold under that pressure? We see Lotto winners losing fortunes all the time. There are always too many hanger-ons, both from the old days and new found friends who are afraid to speak their minds. However, having the courage to speak up and voice an unpopular opinion might be just what it takes to keep these guys out of trouble.

They need tough love so they don’t swap their Armani for prison stripes. If you come across any super stars to be, tell them about us. We’ll keep them safe. At the same time we’ll keep them out of lawsuits, gossip columns, bankruptcy courts and jail. It’s probably too late for Vick. At the time of writing his houses are being auctioned off and the creditors are moving in.

As I said before, this is the opposite of Risk Management. This is avoidance. We all have risk. The secret is knowing how to best manage it.

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