ATLANTA (AP) - Horrified by the dogfighting allegations against their star player, the Atlanta Falcons planned to suspend quarterback Michael Vick for four games until the NFL asked them to hold off while it conducted its own investigation.
What remains unclear: Has Vick played his final game for the Falcons?
"This sort of behavior is really horrific," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday, the team's first public comment since Vick was indicted last week. "But these are charges. We have to let the legal process play out."
Blank said he would encourage Vick, indicted on federal charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation, not to worry about playing football at all in 2007 while the case is pending.
With training camp beginning Thursday, the same day Vick is scheduled to be arraigned in Richmond, Va., the Falcons felt they had to make a decision on the player who led them to the NFC championship game during the 2004 season and last year became the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards.
For now, Joey Harrington is Atlanta's starting quarterback.
Teams are allowed to impose disciplinary suspensions of up to four games, while the league can hand out harsher penalties.
Since the end of last season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has used a new personal conduct policy to suspend Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Tennessee Titans for the entire 2007 season; and Chris Henry of Cincinnati and former Chicago Bear Tank Johnson for eight games each.
"Prior to this, we were pursuing the maximum discipline, which is a four-game suspension," Blank said. "We had gone so far as to draft the letter. But the commissioner asked us not to take action until they completed their review."