Team awaits further facts before 'decisively' acting on QB
By STEVE WYCHE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/17/07
Orchard Park, N.Y. â€” Falcons owner Arthur Blank would not say that he plans to cut embattled quarterback Michael Vick. However, he did say that once all facts are gathered regarding Vick's alleged involvement in a dogfighting ring and the execution of dogs, the team would "move very decisively."
"As facts come out, we will absorb the facts, study the facts, research them and then we'll move very decisively," Blank said before Friday night's preseason game between Atlanta and host Buffalo. "Today's developments are very distressing."
Those developments include the guilty pleas of two co-defendants in a federal dogfighting case, who claimed that Vick financially supported their dogfighting operation and that he personally executed dogs that did not show the willingness to fight.
Also troubling Blank was Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter declaring he would pursue state charges against Vick and others for allegedly staging dogfights and executing dogs at a property Vick owned in Surry County, Va.
"Today's two statement of facts by the co-defendants are troubling and very disturbing," Blank said. "It's certainly not what we expected and it's terribly distressing.
"You think you know somebody for six years and you find out another side of their personality that you didn't know. It's always disappointing. If it's a positive thing you welcome that but something like this. ... I don't know if any of his teammates anticipated anything like this. I certainly know this owner didn't anticipate anything like this. It's very sad."
Blank said he spoke to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell throughout the day, possibly with the expectation that Vick would enter a guilty plea that could reduce the potential of him serving a maximum prison sentence of five years. Vick did not enter a plea by the end of the business day; however, there is the possibility that Vick's attorneys and prosecutors could reach a deal over the weekend or early next week.
There also is the possibility that Vick will choose to go to trial, which is set for Nov. 26. Should Vick go to trial, Blank said he is aware that several current players could be called to testify.
"I don't know if we received any formal notification but we have heard that several players could have been called in â€” or still might â€” if it ends up going to trial. I don't have any facts on that."
In terms of his conversation with Goodell, Blank said, "We will stand by our position, which is we want to allow him to complete his investigation, which they are in the process of doing, and see what plea Michael makes â€” assuming he makes one. We'll look at the facts and we'll work in conjunction with the league and act quickly and do what we need to do."
Vick has been barred from being around the team by Goodell until an independent investigation determines whether Vick violated the NFL's player-conduct policy. Goodell holds the power to suspend Vick indefinitely.
Blank and Falcons president and general manager Rich McKay, in a news conference July 24, said they had enough information to have drawn up papers to suspend Vick for four games, the maximum a team can suspend a player for conduct reasons.
"This isn't easy but one thing I can say, I'm proud of the way this organization and the team, starting with our head coach, has handled this," Blank said. "I don't think anybody could have handled this better. The coach and the staff and the players have focused on their jobs and focused on each other and focused on themselves.
"They're concerned about producing a winning team have having a team the city's proud of. They're fine. It doesn't mean away from here they don't think about it, reflect on it. A lot of these guys have personal relationships with Michael."
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