NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has ordered Falcons quarterback Michael Vick
to stay away from the team's training camp, which begins Thursday, until league
officials complete a review of his indictment on federal charges related to
No timetable was placed on the length of league's investigation, so, for the
foreseeable future, Vick will no longer be the face of a franchise he made
relevant with his on-field theatrics and clouded with his recent off-field
Goodell informed Vick of his decision by letter Monday, then released the
letter shortly before 8 p.m.
"While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or
innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football
League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless
violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy," Goodell
Team owner Arthur Blank, who was instructed by Goodell not to impose any team
sanctions on Vick until the NFL investigation is completed, has scheduled a news
conference for 4 p.m. Tuesday at his foundation headquarters.
Goodell's decision gives all parties more time to resolve a situation that
has disrupted the league, shaken the Falcons franchise to the core, ignited raw
passion of this city's residents, and left one of its biggest stars facing up to
five years in prison.
The Falcons declined comment. Vick was unavailable for comment Monday.
Thursday's start of training camp — which Vick would have missed because of
bond and arraignment hearings in Richmond, Va. — and the controversy surrounding
his participation prompted Goodell's decision.
Since Vick was one of four people charged in an 18-page federal indictment
last Tuesday, officials from the Falcons, the NFL, the NFL players' union and
Vick's representatives spent hours discussing options, ranging from letting him
play; to suspending him; to arranging for a leave of absence; to outright
With this ruling, more information can be gathered to chart a new course of
action. If the NFL investigation finds that Vick violated its player conduct
policy, more sanctions from the league could be forthcoming, as could discipline
from the Falcons. Should the investigation show Vick did not infringe upon the
policy, he might be allowed to return.
Until then, former Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins starter Joey Harrington,
signed as a free agent this spring, will be Atlanta's new starting
For Vick, the mandate allows him to concentrate on his legal situation.
Vick has hired prominent Washington D.C.-based defense attorney Billy Martin.
Martin, a former federal prosecutor, recently defended former Atlanta mayor Bill
Campbell in a public corruption trial. Vick has been working with his longtime
lawyer Lawrence Woodward, who could be retained as council in some manner.
In a related development, Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter
will not present evidence to a grand jury Tuesday regarding dogfighting and
animal cruelty at the property Vick owns in Surry County, his office stated.
Charges could still be brought later this year. Poindexter said last week that
he likely would present evidence against Vick and others, possibly by the end of
the year. The next grand jury is scheduled to convene in September.
Before Goodell's announcement, roughly 30 protesters from the People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society rallied for two hours
outside of Falcons' headquarters, carrying signs of tortured dogs and shouting
"Sack Vick" and "Despicable."
"We don't want to wait until training camp starts to send the message that
fans want to see Michael Vick suspended based on the strength of these
allegations against him," Dan Shannon, the assistant director or PETA in
Norfolk, Va., said. "We'd like to think that the Falcons would do the right
thing, not because people are complaining but because they don't want to be
associated with this sort of behavior. That hasn't been the case to this point
so we're trying to apply a little bit of pressure."
Shannon was unavailable for comment following Goodell's ruling.
The economic fallout of being associated with Vick continued as Nike, with
whom he has an endorsement contract, might have taken another step to distance
itself from the controversy. On its website, Nike.com, a search for apparel with
Vick's name returned the message, "Sorry, we found no product matches for your
Nike halted the release of a new shoe to be endorsed by Vick but said it
would not stop selling existing merchandise.