The National Football League has ordered Michael Vick to stay from the Atlanta Falcons training camp while they review the dog fighting accusations swirling around the embattled star.
"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 said in a letter to the quarterback.
The NFL will talk to federal officials to assess the strength of the evidence against Vick, according to the story on msn.foxsports.com.
Goodell instructed the Falcons not to take disciplinary action against Vick until the league office completes its review. Vick will receive his preseason pay during the investigation.
The Falcons open training camp this Thursday. Vick will be in Richmond, Virginia, to answer charges in the federal indictment.
Ookie Vick might have expected this development. I'm sure it's not one he welcomes. The football field and locker room must look like safe havens to Vick, whose fate is largely in the hands of others. To sit home to dwell on his legal and career jeopardy is not the take control scenario athletes cultivate.
Meanwhile, Surry County (VA) Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter confirmed that local charges would not be filed against Vick in deference to the federal prosecution. This is not a surprising development. The county's investigation was "deliberate," that is to say "suspiciously slow." Still, local charges could be percieved as piling on. The development means that Vick is charged for illegal activities across State lines, but not for the underlying crime of animal cruelty. Sorta like Scooter Libby's situation. If convicted, there will be no Republican presidential clemency for Ookie. There is a story of federal-State contention in there somewhere that will emerge in time.
David Steele at the Baltimore SUN, citing Ray Lewis as an example, reminds that the NFL "forgives quick." If Ray Lewis can recover his reputation, so can Ookie who faces a less dire situation that Lewis in 2000.
Photo: Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.( November 19, 2006)