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NFL bans Vick from camp

Pending inquiry, QB on sidelines

Animal rights activists protest outside the Atlanta Falcons complex in Flowery Branch, Ga. Animal rights activists protest outside the Atlanta Falcons complex in Flowery Branch, Ga. (GENE BLYTHE/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

NEW YORK -- Michael Vick was ordered by commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons' training camp until the league reviews the dogfighting charges against him.

"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 said Vick would still get his preseason pay and Goodell told the Falcons to withhold any disciplinary action of their own until the league's review was completed.

Goodell told Vick the league would complete its review as quickly as possible and that he expected full cooperation. The review is expected to involve conversations with federal law enforcement officials so the NFL can determine the strength of the case against Vick.

The Falcons open camp Thursday, the same day Vick is scheduled to be arraigned in Richmond on charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation.

The indictment alleges that about eight young dogs were put to death at Vick's Surry County, Va., home after they were found not ready to fight.

If convicted, Vick and three other men charged with him could face up to six years in prison, and $350,000 in fines.

The team declined comment other than to say a news conference is scheduled today at owner Arthur Blank's office in Atlanta.

Vick, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, last season became the first quarterback ever to rush for more than 1,000 yards.

After his indictment last week, the NFL's position was that it would monitor developments and allow the legal process to "determine the facts."

Since then, pressure has been mounting on the league and the Falcons, particularly from animal-rights groups.

PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- demonstrated at Falcons' headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., yesterday and did the same outside NFL offices in New York last week. At the same time, Goodell was meeting with officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Activists also put pressure on companies that have endorsements deals with Vick to sever their ties. Nike said it would not release a fifth signature shoe, the Air Zoom Vick V, this summer. Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said the four shoe products and three shirts that currently bear Vick's name will remain in stores.