After Meeting With Goodell, Path Is Paved for Vick's Return

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 24, 2009

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met Wednesday in New Jersey with Michael Vick and appears to be giving strong consideration to allowing the quarterback to sign with a team and participate in training camp practices, then possibly serve an additional suspension at the outset of the regular season, sources familiar with the case said Thursday evening.

The added suspension likely would last four to six games, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the league's deliberations on the highly controversial case. The suspension would be without pay.

The sources cautioned that nothing had been firmly decided and that Goodell has complete authority in the matter and still could change his mind. Any additional legal troubles for Vick almost certainly would result in a severe punishment being imposed by Goodell, the sources said.

Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said Thursday night: "This is a serious matter. We are engaging in a careful and thoughtful process and no decisions have been made."

Vick is on indefinite suspension by the NFL. He was released from federal custody Monday. The quarterback missed the last two seasons while serving his federal sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation in Virginia. Vick is a free agent after being released by the Atlanta Falcons.

Sources said Goodell met with Vick for approximately three hours Wednesday afternoon in New Jersey.

Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that the meeting concluded around 4 p.m. Wednesday at Buckley Petersen Global Inc., a security firm in Allendale, N.J. According to the report, both Goodell and Vick were seen leaving the meeting.

It is not clear if any NFL team is interested in signing Vick, 29, if he is reinstated by Goodell, who imposed the suspension on Vick prior to the 2007 season.

ESPN reported Goodell is expected to suspend Vick for four games when a conditional reinstatement is announced next week.

Vick met Tuesday with DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, at an undisclosed location.

-- ROETHLISBERGER SPEAKS: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger denied an allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman last year in a Lake Tahoe, Nev., hotel room, calling the accusation "reckless and false."

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