Goodell Slams Remarks By Portis

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NASHVILLE, May 22 -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday condemned comments by Washington Redskins tailback Clinton Portis in support of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is under investigation for his possible involvement in an alleged dogfighting operation in Virginia.

"I'm extremely disappointed and embarrassed for Clinton Portis," Goodell said in a written statement following a one-day NFL owners' meeting. "This does not reflect the sentiments of the Redskins, the NFL or NFL players."

The Redskins, who on Monday issued a statement for Portis expressing his regret for the remarks, on Tuesday evening apologized for Portis's comments. "The Washington Redskins, as an organization, obviously would never condone anything related to animal cruelty," the Redskins said in a statement. "The team takes the recent comments of Clinton Portis very seriously and apologizes to everyone that was offended."

Goodell said at a news conference earlier Tuesday that he was "very concerned about the issues revolving around" Vick but wasn't ready to make a decision about possible disciplinary action. A league official said that disciplinary measures against Portis were not under consideration.

Authorities in Virginia are deciding whether to bring charges against Vick for alleged animal cruelty and dogfighting at a house he formerly owned in Surry County. Police raided the property on April 25 and found dozens of dogs and items associated with dogfighting, which is a felony in Virginia and 47 other states.

In an interview with a Virginia television station Friday, Portis and a teammate, offensive tackle Chris Samuels, defended Vick. Portis said that if Vick is charged and convicted of dogfighting, "then you're putting him behind bars for no reason."

"I don't know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it's his property. It's his dog. If that's what he wants to do, do it," Portis told WAVY-TV in Norfolk.

Samuels laughed as Portis spoke and said it wasn't fair that people were rushing to conclusions about Vick's involvement. "You can't accuse this man of something and throw the book at him right now," Samuels said.

At Redskins Park on Tuesday, Samuels said that he and Portis were wrong for joking about dogfighting. "It's very serious," Samuels said. "We don't agree with dogfighting."

Samuels said that as soon as the interview was finished, "I said, 'You know what? This might be a mess.' "

"We knew we were on camera," Samuels said. "We did a live shot before and then we had the taped interview, and we were kind of joking the whole time we were there. Once that question came about, and we were joking about that in a sense, I was kind of caught off guard with it. . . . We were wrong for joking about the situation."

Portis did not attend Tuesday's voluntary workout and was not available to comment.

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