Eagles' Vick spared more punishment after meeting with Goodell

Coach Andy Reid meets with commissioner Roger Goodell (right) and former NFL coach and announcer John Madden during Goodell's visit to training camp.
Coach Andy Reid meets with commissioner Roger Goodell (right) and former NFL coach and announcer John Madden during Goodell's visit to training camp.
Posted: August 04, 2010

BETHLEHEM - The man with the big gun kept a bullet to himself.

After an hour of watching practice and another hour of marketing his league, NFL sheriff Roger Goodell headed over the mountain, in the parlance of training camp, for his much-anticipated meeting with Michael Vick, along with Eagles coach Andy Reid.

Afterward, he finally determined Vick's immedate future in the NFL in the wake of Vick's bang-up birthday bash in June.

"I don't feel it's appropriate to take any disciplinary action, based on the facts I know from the incident," Goodell said last night, standing outside of the Madden Cruiser, on which he and adviser John Madden are making a bus tour of selected East Coast camps.

"It was a very good meeting. Andy and I met with Michael for 10 or 15 minutes and expressed our view about the importance of him making better judgments and decisions going forward, and I think he gets the message," Goodell said.

Goodell thought that last year, too, when he decided to let Vick back into the league after his release from prison. Then, it was dogfighting. Now, it is indiscriminate partying, ignoring the edict of Goodell and the advice of mentor Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts coach.

"He obviously said he was sorry to put everybody in this position, and he recognizes he has to make those better decisions," Goodell said. "I've talked with Tony and I've talked with Andy, and we've all agreed we're going to put additional support measures in to help him make those better decisions."

Yesterday's meeting seemed to reaffirm the results of a telephone conversation of about 3 weeks ago among Goodell, Vick, Reid and Dungy.

Considering that, in the wake of the latest incident, Goodell allowed Vick to report to training camp and participate as if nothing happened, any action on the commissioner's part yesterday seemed highly unlikely.

Still, Goodell played coy.

"I haven't announced a decision, have I?" Goodell said yesterday afternoon.

Yes, actually, he did.

Through a spokesman, the league last month told the Daily News that, after speaking with police and Vick, "There is no change in his playing status."

So, ostensibly, unless Vick talked himself into a suspension, he was going to remain active.

Goodell said a quick "Hello" to Vick before the afternoon workout. Goodell then spoke with reporters after yesterday's practice. Then he held a fan forum near the practice field, the real thrust of his 5-day, eight-city bus tour to promote the league in advance of anticipated labor strife.

Meanwhile, Vick - who expected to meet with the commissioner in the locker facility next to the practice field - waited until, finally, he went back to campus for team meetings, dinner and the organizational barbeque.

Goodell was whisked away in one of Reid's big, black SUVs from the fan forum back over the mountain to the Lehigh campus.

Goodell left Lehigh last night and continues his tour today in Washington. About the time Goodell rolls into McNabbville, Vick is scheduled to hold a news conference about his meeting with Goodell; that is, after this morning's practice.

Vick threw himself a birthday party at a club in Virginia Beach, Va., at which he reportedly engaged in an altercation with an accomplice in his dogfighting conviction.

That accomplice, identified by Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward, as Quanis Phillips, who also was convicted and served time in prison, later was shot in the leg near the club soon after Vick left the party.

Police cleared Vick of any involvement in the matter. They say they know who the shooter is, but cannot build a case, because witnesses will not cooperate.

Vick was suspended by Goodell for two regular-season games last season. Any further egregious errors will surely mean another suspension. For all of his ominous foreshadowing, Goodell appeared to have his mind made up that June's party was not egregious enough.

Most important, Goodell said, he wanted to impress upon Vick that his leash is shorter than most. Or, maybe he just wanted to scold Vick.

"I want him to understand that he's in a different position than others. Because of that, he has to conduct himself differently," Goodell said.

Goodell indicated that he would ask Dungy to become even more involved with mentoring Vick. Goodell also indicated that the NFL and the Eagles would keep a close eye on the team's backup quarterback.

"A large part of our message is the additional support we want to provide. Helping him make better decisions, including mentoring. At the league level and at the club level," Goodell said.

The incident in Virginia does not compare to Vick's actual crimes. Having a party near his hometown where questionable characters might show up is a tame endeavor, compared with killing and maiming dogs while running an illegal gambling operation.

"He obviously made some tragic errors, some big mistakes. He paid a heavy price for it," Goodell said. "I'd like see him get on the right road."

Really, Vick has been on that road for almost a year. He has become an animal-rights advocate. He has kept his nose remarkably clean.

"I think he's made significant progress," Goodell allowed.

Progress hampered, in some views, by throwing himself a party.

"As I said to him a year ago, you can't afford lapses in judgment. You just can't afford that," Goodell said.

Well, Vick plays on without further discipline. So, apparently, he can.

Edicts

Roger Goodell defended his plan to expand the regular season by two games, to 18, and shrink the preseason by two games, to two. He acknowledged that a vote at the owners' meeting Aug. 25 (when they will vote on a bid to buy the Rams) might be premature, since it is a collective bargaining issue and the CBA is a very unsettled matter . . . When he visits Steelers camp tomorrow, Goodell said he will meet with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom he suspended for the first six games this season following an incident with a 20-year-old woman in a Georgia bar in March. Roethlisberger faced sexual assault accusations, but was not arrested or charged. *

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