NFL Sacks Report of Vick Suspension

The league denied a report that a decision was made to suspend Michael Vick.

ByABC News

Aug. 13, 2007 — -- The NFL denied a weekend report by Yahoo! Sports that it will suspend Atlanta Falcons star quarterback and federal dogfighting defendant Michael Vick for the upcoming season.

"No decision has been made," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today Sunday night, responding to the Yahoo story, which cited anonymous league sources. The NFL ordered a review of Vick's case after his July 17 indictment on federal dogfighting charges.

The independent review, Goodell told USA Today last week, would be done within a couple of weeks, to be followed by a league determination of Vick's 2007-2008 status.

Jason Cole, a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports, reported Sunday that sources said Goodell, who has played strict disciplinarian in his first year as commissioner, would announce his decision to suspend Vick this week or next.

Goodell told Vick not to report to the Falcons' training camp last month after prosecutors announced a federal indictment against Vick and three other men connecting them to an organized dogfighting ring based out of a property Vick owns in Virginia.

Vick's case could go to trial as early as November. Already, one of Vick's co-defendants, Tony Taylor, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors -- a deal that will require him to testify against Vick.

Meanwhile, the start of the football season is approaching. The first round of exhibition games have been played, including the Falcons first test of the season, a 31-16 road loss against the New York Jets.

The Falcons, who are under the first-year control of former Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, will play three more exhibition games before a regular season opener against the Vikings in Minneapolis on Sept. 9 -- less than a month away.

If Vick were allowed to remain with the team, he would likely face intense fan scrutiny on the road and perhaps even at home. The indictment against Vick sparked widespread outrage and calls for his immediate suspension.

Vick, the NFL's highest-paid player and previously a mainstream marketing success, promptly had sponsorship and marketing deals suspended: Reebok pulled his No. 7 jersey from the shelves, Upper Deck stripped his card from football card sets, and Rawlings cancelled his endorsement deal.

Team owner Arthur Black, while not announcing any decisions, has left the door open to severing ties with Vick.

The final decision of the NFL, which already asked Vick to stay out of training camp, isn't a straightforward one. While Goodell has quickly gained a reputation for cracking down on the league's discipline problems, there's a distinction in the Vick case that has made acting on a suspension difficult.

Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Tennessee Titans was ordered to sit out for the entire season for off-field run-ins with the law. But Jones -- who has been arrested at least five times and questioned by police more than that -- has a criminal record. Vick simply stands accused. The Jones suspension will be reviewed after 10 regular season games.

The case against Vick includes possible gambling involvement that may trigger league suspension without a conviction on the charges. Goodell will also look at whether Vick may have told him things about the indictment that were untrue.

"Now I have to compare that to the facts as best I can," Goodell told USA Today last week, "and try to understand, 'Is this accurate what he told me? Is it inaccurate?'"

Vick, claiming ignorance of the allegations, blamed his cousin when the Virginia house he owned was raided and the main evidence that would lead to the dogfighting indictment -- including several dozen animals, some injured and others scarred -- was first uncovered.

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