Contrary to previous reports, the AJC reports that a suspension of Michael Vick is not imminent due to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s plan to remain patient. Goodell’s patience is based upon the findings of special investigator Eric Holder. Holder was appointed by the league to gather information and evidence whether or not Vick violated the league’s personal conduct policy. There has been no formal timetable on when Holder’s report will be issued, but per SI.com’s Peter King, that is at least a week away.
In other Vick-related news, the remaining co-defendants in the federal conspiracy case against Vick have opted to plead guilty. Of the four people named in the federal indictment, Vick now remains the only one who has plead not guilty. ESPN is reporting that Vick and his attorneys are currently weighing their options on whether to change to a guilty plea, and that there is a Friday deadline for such a change to occur. ESPN indicates that the federal government will soon file their superseding indictment after which Vick will face two more federal dogfighting charges along with his current conspiracy charge.
Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole reports that a suspension of Michael Vick is nearing. Cole reports that two league sources indicate that either this week or next week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce that Vick will be suspended for the entire 2007 NFL season. Cole indicates that the suspension of Vick may be due to a violation of the league’s gambling policies.
According to Cole’s sources, the league seems intent on announcing Vick’s fate prior to the start of the regular season. Currently, Vick is under an indefinite leave of absence imposed by Goodell. Vick’s trial is due to begin on November 26, 2007.
Michael Vick plead not guilty at his arraignment today in Richmond, Virginia. Vick will receive a jury trial which is set to begin on November 26, which will coincide with the end of Week 12 of the NFL schedule.
Vick may face up to six years in federal prison and pay around $350,000 in fines if convicted.
According to Lester Munson of ESPN Vick could face further charges down the road due to a “superceding indictment” that will be filed by prosecutors by the end of the month. Charges could be added or eliminated, but per Munson, it is likely they will be added.
Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino indicated in yesterday’s press conference that the Falcons would be in the market to sign another quarterback in the coming days due to the absence of Michael Vick, who has been ordered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to stay away from camp.
Petrino said that a fourth passer is necessary in order for the team to go through all its camp drills. Who they would sign is unknown at this time, but there have been rumors per Pro Football Talk.com, that recently released quarterback Daunte Culpepper might show up on the Falcons radar.
Also, the Falcons had James Kilian earlier this off-season, but he was released in April in order to make room for Joey Harrington on the roster.
Fox 5 Atlanta reports that according to the NFL, Michael Vick is expected to take a leave of absence, stemming from his federal indictment.
Various reports earlier today have indicated that a decision by either Comissioner Roger Goodell or Falcons owner Arthur Blank was expected to occur soon. It has not yet been confirmed if this leave of absence is the decision reached by either party.
UPDATE: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports confirms the FOX 5 report indicated that the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to order Michael Vick to not attend the Falcons upcoming training camp when practices begin this Thursday on July 26. All Falcons players are supposed to report by midnight the previous evening. Vick is scheduled to be at an arraignment on Thursday at 3:30 when the Falcons first practices begin at 3:00 pm Eastern.
Glazer’s report indicates that this may be the first of many actions the league decides to take against Vick. This current move is designed to buy more time for more information to be either revealed or processed by the NFL.
It seems that due to this mandate from the league office, Vick will not be found in default of his contract, and the Falcons will not seek to pursue the return of bonus money from Vick in the immediate future.
ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Falcons have the ability to recover a large sum of the guaranteed money they paid Michael Vick when he received a ten-year contract extension in 2004 worth a total of $130 million. Due to his federal indicment Vick is set to be arraigned on July 26, the first day of the Falcons 2007 training camp. Missing that day of practice could leave Vick in default of his contract, and thus allow the Falcons to recover a sizeable portion of money.
According to ProFootballTalk, the Falcons could recover $28.7 million of the $37.5 million guaranteed paid in his 2004 extension. That figure is based on how many potential games are left remaining through the extent of Vick’s contract, which is du to expire after the 2013 season. The Falcons may not choose to find Vick in default of his contract, by given him written permission to miss practices on July 26 and/or later dates. But the Falcons still hold the option to recover bonus money at a later date, but as time goes on, the potential money recovered will decrease.
Earlier reports suggested that because the majority of Vick’s guaranteed money was paid in roster bonuses, it would be less likely the Falcons would be able to recover that money due to arbitration on a grievance filed against former Falcon and Denver Bronco receiver Ashley Lelie last summer. The Broncos sought to recover bonus money from Lelie for holding out of off-season activities, but because it was option bonus money, Lelie was not deemed liable to repay that money. Previous reports suggested that roster bonuses would be treated similarly as option bonus, although the report at ProFootballTalk suggests otherwise.
In their second overall, yet arguably first official statement following the indictment of Michael Vick, Falcons owner Arthur Blank issued a letter to the fan base on Thursday evening:
A Message to our Fans:
We know you’re anxious to her more from us regarding the indictment of Michael Vick and its implications to the Falcons. Please be assured that we are working diligently on exploring our options and getting the right people involved in this situation.
This is an emotionally charged and complicated matter. There are a wide range of interests and legal issues that need to be carefully considered as we move ahead, including our need to respect the due process that Michael is entitled to. Also, this situation affects everyone — our club, our players and associates, our sponsors, our fans and the Atlanta community among them — so we must consider all of our customers in making any decisions.
Given the differing perspctives and strong feelings around this issue, we probably won’t make everyone happy, but we are committed to doing the right thing. As the owner of this club that’s, ultimately, my responsibility.
In the meantime, know that I’m sadden and distressed about this — not for myself, but for our fans and community who have been so loyal to us. We will do our very best to continue to earn your support.
Arthur M. Blank
Owner & CEO
Adam Schefter of NFL.com reports that the league will exercise patience when it comes to dealing with any punishment on Michael Vick, and has no immediate plans to suspend Vick.
Schefter reports that the league would like to gather more information, particularly about the strength of evidence against Vick and a timetable of the case, before making any real decisions about a potential suspension. Schefter compares the incident to Duke lacrosse rape case, in which Duke University immediately made a decision by cancelling the lacrosse season. Eventually, all charges against the Duke players were dropped.
Any upcoming disciplinary action will likely be meted out by Falcons owner Arthur Blank instead of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Schefter reports that it is possible the Falcons give Vick a leave of absence, allowing him to concentrate on legal matters instead of football. This action was originally suggested by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday. This would keep Vick out of training camp where a probable media circus would occur and create far less of a distraction to the rest of the team.
Schefter also reports that it will be difficult for the Falcons to recoup the $37 million in bonus money paid to Vick, because most of it was roster bonuses instead of strictly signing bonuses.
Tim McGlone of the Virginian-Pilot reports that it is “more than likely” that Vick will also face local prosecution from Surry County officials in tandem with his federal conspiracy charges.
Originally, when federal officials “intervened” per Surry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Poindexter in early June, it was believed that any case local officials may have had against Vick was unlikely to come to fruition.
Poindexter indicates that any local case will focus on crimes committed in Surry County, instead of the interstate commerce which is where a significant amount of the federal case lies.
There has been much controversy during the local investigation, most of centering around race. Poindexter, who is black, has been criticized for leading a weak and intentionally stalled investigation due the fact that Vick is a high-profile black celebrity. Poindexter has denied these claims, and recently has indicated the speed at which their investigation has progressed has been hindered because local officials are waiting for federal officials to share crucial information.
Evidence is expected to go before a grand jury in Surry County on September 25. Another grand jury is set to convene at the end of this month, but it is considered doubtful that they will hear evidence in the Vick case then.
Vick already faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 on federal conspiracy charges. Cruelty to animals and participating in dogfight are both felonies in the state of Virginia.
Per an AJC report, Michael Vick is set to be arraigned at 4 pm in a federal court in Richmond, Virginia on July 26, the same day that practices for training camp kick off for the Falcons. The first Falcons practice is scheduled for 3:00 in the afternoon, with Vick set to appear for a bond hearing at 3:30. It seems as a result, that it is nearly impossible that Vick will report on time to training camp.
The Falcons already issued a preliminary statement Tuesday evening, but may release a second statement later today.