The pressure against the Falcons and the NFL has been unrelenting since before Vick’s indictment. With the initiation of the investigation into the dog fighting allegation in April, animal rights and animal welfare groups have been calling for a ban of players involved in dog fighting and a suspension of Michael Vick from the NFL.

Falcons training camp is supposed to begin on July 26, the same day that Vick is due in court for a bond hearing and arraignment. And now Goodell has ordered Vick not to show up for training camp pending a review by the NFL into Vick’s indictment for allegedly participating in an interstate dog-fighting operation.

While this is not the outright suspension that groups such a the HSUS has called for and been petitioning for, it is a step in the direction that the NFL is finally taking this seriously.

Goodell told Vick the league would complete its review as quickly as possible and that he expected full cooperation. The review is expected to involve conversations with federal law enforcement officials so the NFL can determine the strength of the case against Vick.

After his indictment last week, the NFL’s position was that it would monitor developments and allow the legal process to “determine the facts.”

Since then, pressure has been mounting on the league and the Falcons, particularly from animal-rights groups.

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – demonstrated at Falcons’ headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., on Monday and did the same outside NFL offices in New York last week. At the same time, Goodell was meeting with officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The league and the ASPCA are working on a program to educate players about the proper treatment of animals.

Activists also put pressure on companies that have endorsements deals with Vick to sever their ties. Nike said it would not release a fifth signature shoe, the Air Zoom Vick V, this summer. Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said the four shoe products and three shirts that currently bear Vick’s name will remain in stores.

Goodell’s order came down after lengthy discussions involving the league office, the Falcons and the NFL Players’ Association. Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA’s executive director, was one of the first to side with Goodell when he instituted the strong Personal Conduct Policy after a season of repeated misdeeds by players. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

To read the entire 19 page indictment, download it HERE

For more background and information, please see – Michael Vick and Dogfighting

Press Release from the Human Society of the US

NFL Commended for Keeping Vick Away from Training Camp

The Humane Society of the United States today reacted favorably to the news that the National Football League has ordered Michael Vick not to attend training camp with the Atlanta Falcons, and the animal welfare group urged the league not to allow Vick to play while his charges of federal dogfighting crimes are still pending.

“Officials from the National Football League rightly recognized that it just cannot be business as usual for Vick and the Falcons with this chilling set of facts laid out in the federal indictment,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The NFL has taken an important first step, and it is our sincerest hope that Michael Vick not suit up for play prior to the resolution of these serious charges in federal court.”

More than 263,000 individuals contacted the NFL through The HSUS’ online advocacy campaign, which began last week after a federal grand jury charged Vick and three co-defendants with allegedly operating a multi-state dogfighting ring. The HSUS urged the NFL to suspend Vick until the charges against him are aired in court.

The campaign has generated more online actions, more quickly, than any other campaign for the organization (only Hurricane Katrina responses numbered higher). Animal advocates generated a wave of activity that shut down The HSUS’ website (humanesociety.org) for large portion of both Wednesday and Thursday.

The HSUS is renewing its call for Nike to sever its relationship with Vick while the dogfighting charges are pending.

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