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PFT- Goodell pondering Vick gambling angle

Kentucky Jet

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Though the NFL and the media haven't had much to say about the gambling aspects of Mike Vick's indictment on federal conspiracy charges, that all could be changing.

Asked whether the details of the dog-fighting operation has overshadowed the fact that it was, in essence, a gambling enterprise, Commissioner Roger Goodell told USA Today, "Not from our standpoint."

"Listen, we're sickened by the allegations and the predicament Michael put himself in," Goodell said. "But there are a lot of things in the indictment that concern the NFL that may not be of a greater concern from a law enforcement standpoint."

The league's gambling policy is a stand-alone document, and its principles pop up in the Standard Player Contract. Knowingly associating with gamblers or with gambling activity is enough to get a player in serious trouble, including banned for life. Vick currently is accused of funding a dog-fighting operation in which the owners of the two canines put up an equal amount of money, and the winner took the pot.

There are also indications that Goodell's ongoing review of the situation isn't necessarily focused on whether Vick is legally guilty of the precise charges that have been made against him. Instead, because Vick flatly denied to the Commissioner in April that any dog fighting was occurring on Vick's property, the Commissioner might have enough proof to justify imposing discipline under the conduct policy if he merely concludes that dog-fighting happened there, regardless of Vick's level of involvement.

"Now I have to compare that to the facts as best I can," Goodell said, "and try to understand, 'Is this accurate what he told me? Is it inaccurate?'"

If the admission of guilty of Tony Taylor is to be given any credence, then Vick's words were inaccurate.

The Commissioner isn't bound by the notions of due process; the union already has bargained away any such rights. Thus, Goodell can conduct his own investigation, make his own determination, impose discipline, and then review the decision on appeal.

Of course, it doesn't mean that Goodell won't be fair. We think he will. But we also think he has enough evidence to conclude that Vick has done enough to merit a stiff punishment under the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy, which aimed to prevent players from undermining the integrity or public perception of the game of professional football.

And when Goodell imposes discipline before the legal proceedings are concluded, we wonder whether all of the members of the "real" media who presumed that the Personal Conduct Policy prevents such an outcome for first-time offenders will acknowledge their error.

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