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 czar Roger Goodell headed over the mountain, in the parlance of training camp, for his much-anticipated face-to-face meeting with Michael Vick, after which, he said, he finally determined Vick’s future in the NFL.
“There will be no disciplinary action,” according to a statement released by the Eagles this evening. Later, Goodell met with a small group of reporters outside the bus he traveled to Lehigh in along with retired broadcaster John Madden.
"It was a very good meeting. (Eagles coach Andy Reid) 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.
"He obviously said he was sorry to put everybody in this position, and he recognizes he has to make those better decisions.I've talked with (designated mentor) Tony (Dungy and I've talked with (Reid) and we've all agreed we're going to put additional support measures in to help him make those better decisions. I don't feel it's appropriate to take any disciplinary action, based on the facts I know from the indicent."
Goodell said he wanted to keep the additional measures private.
"He knows he's being held to a higher standard, just because of his involvement in the past (in dogfighting), and people expect more from him. He can't do things that other people can do. He's going to have to recognize that and understand that's part of the responsibility he has to this league, and I'm confident he's going to do that."
Goodell said Vick was "very agreeable" to the new measures, whatever they are. "What we want is to do everything we can to ensure he's successful in life, and also in football, but we're worried about him as a young man, and making sure he's making better decisions for him and his family."
Of course, considering that, in the wake of the Vick’s bang-up birthday bash, Goodell allowed Vick to report to training camp and participate as if nothing ever happened, any action on the commissioner’s part seemed highly unlikely.
“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 himself, “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 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 in one of coach Andy Reid’s big black SUVs from the fan forum back over the mountain to the campus where he was expected to address the team as a whole this evening, and also met with Vick and Reid.
Goodell was scheduled to leave Lehigh tonight and continue his tour Wednesday in Washington.
About the time Goodell rolls into McNabbville, Vick is scheduled to speak about their meeting, after Wednesday morning’s practice.
To review: Vick threw himself a birthday party at a club in Virginia Beach, at which he reportedly engaged in an altercation with an accomplice in Vick’s dogfighting conviction.
That accomplice, 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.
Vick was cleared by police of any involvement in the matter. Police say they know who the shooter is but cannot build a case because witnesses will not cooperate.
Vick was suspended by Goodell for four regular-season games last season, his first back in the league after his prison term. Any further egregious errors will surely mean more suspensions. For all of his ominous foreshadowing, Goodell appeared to have his mind made up that last month’s party was not egregious enough.
“I try to look at this and understand the facts and understand where we are. Where I think the individual is – in this case, Michael,” Goodell said. “And try to make the best decision for the league and for the individual.”
Most important, Goodell said, he wanted to impress upon Vick (or scold, perhaps?) that his leash is shorter than most.
“He understands the position he’s in. And he has to make good decisions,” Goodell said. “I want him to understand that he’s in a different position than others. Because of that, he has to conduct himself differently. Hopefully, he recognizes that.”
Goodell indicated that he would ask Vick adviser and former NFL coach Tony Dungy to become even more involved with mentoring Vick. Goodell also indicate 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.
Having a party near his hometown where questionable characters might show up certainly does not compare with maiming and killing dogs and 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 1 year. He has become an animal rights advocate. He has kept his nose remarkably clean.
“I think he’s made significant progress,” Goodell allowed.
Then, Vick had a birthday party in his stomping grounds, where one old friend showed up and, later, got himself shot – much of which was out of Vick’s control.
Maybe he should have thrown the party at Dave & Busters on the Delaware River.
“As I said to him a year ago, you can’t afford lapses in judgment. You just can’t afford that,” Goodell said.
Apparently, as he plays on without discipline, he can.
Here is statement released by NFL ...
Commissioner Goodell informed Michael Vick today (Tuesday, August 3) at Eagles camp that there will be no disciplinary action as a result of the incident in Virginia, based on his current understanding of the facts. Commissioner Goodell spoke several weeks ago by phone with Michael, Tony Dungy, and Eagles Coach Andy Reid. All were in agreement on the need for additional support measures to be added to Michael’s plan to enhance his opportunity to succeed in life and football. These additional steps will remain confidential, but they will require Michael to meet even higher standards.