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Friday, August 24, 2007
Vick suspended indefinitely by NFL

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The NFL has suspended Falcons quarterback Michael Vick indefinitely without pay following his admission of guilt in a dogfighting scheme.

On Friday, Vick filed his plea agreement in federal court admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring and agreeing that the enterprise included killing pit bulls and gambling. He denied making side bets on the fights, but admitted to bankrolling them.

Friday afternoon, a letter to Vick from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, in part:

NFL calls Vick conduct 'cruel'

•  Read the full text of the letter sent by commissioner Roger Goodell to Michael Vick suspending the quarterback indefinitely without pay from the NFL on Friday. PDF

"Your admitted conduct was not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible" and regardless whether he personally placed bets, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

Goodell freed the Falcons to "assert any claims or remedies" to recover $22 million of Vick's signing bonus from the 10-year, $130 million contract he signed in 2004.

The commissioner didn't speak to Vick but based his decision on the court filings. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Goodell may meet with Vick in the future, and Goodell said he would review the suspension after all the legal proceedings.

"You have engaged in conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL and have violated the league's personal conduct policy," Goodell told Vick in a letter after meeting in New York with Falcons president and general manager Rich McKay.

"You are now justifiably facing consequences for the decisions you made and the conduct in which you engaged. Your career, freedom and public standing are now in the most serious jeopardy," Goodell wrote. "I hope that you will be able to learn from this difficult experience and emerge from it better prepared to act responsibly and to make the kinds of choices that are expected of a conscientious and law abiding citizen."

Falcons owner Arthur Blank supported Goodell's decision and said:

"We hope that Michael will use this time, not only to further address his legal matters, but to take positive steps to improve his personal life."

Nike, meantime, said it terminated its contract with Vick.

In disciplining Vick, Goodell said he will "review the status of your suspension following the conclusion of the legal proceedings. As part of that review, I will take into account a number of factors, including the resolution of any other charges that may be brought against you, whether in Surry County, Virginia, or other jurisdictions, your conduct going forward, the specifics of the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson and any related findings he might make, and the extent to which you are truthful and cooperative with law enforcement and league staff who are investigating these matters."

"I have advised the Falcons that, with my decision today, they are no longer prohibited from acting and are now free to assert any claims or remedies available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or your NFL Player Contract."

The grisly details outlined in the indictment and other court papers prompted a public backlash against Vick, who had been one of the NFL's most popular players.

Animal-rights groups mobilized against Vick -- even protesting at NFL headquarters in New York -- and sponsors dropped him.

"It is fitting that the NFL has suspended him,'' said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "He's now a role model for something terrible, and it's not appropriate that he suit up in an NFL uniform."

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report