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Managing the clock in the Vick case

You might disagree with his decisions, but you must give NFL commissioner Roger Goodell credit for taking a stand on player conduct, unlike his predecessor, "Smirking' Paul Tagliabue, who ducked from everything related to doling out punishment until he had to confront the matter head-on.

That said, it feels as though Goodell bought himself and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank some time with his decision to tell quarterback Michael Vick not to report to training camp Thursday. Of course, Vick's arraignment Thursday on federal charges stemming from a dogfighting ring that allegedly was operating on his property in Virginia, means that he wouldn't be at training camp that day anyway, but Goodell's letter gives him and Blank a moment to ponder the next move.

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What Blank and Goodell ultimately hope is that Vick will take them off the hook by voluntarily going on some kind of leave while the charges move through the court system. However, if Vick insists that he wants to play this year, the commissioner and the owner have a few more weeks before they have to make a call on whether to sit Vick down themselves.

Under the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players' union, Blank could suspend Vick for up to four regular season games for conduct deemed detrimental to the team, but that only gets him to October. The protests and pressure from animal rights groups will only have ratcheted up by then.

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By the way, someone should tell People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that selling anti-Michael Vick T-shirts and coffee mugs is a great way to swing sympathy against their cause and toward Vick.

Meanwhile, Terence Moore, one of the best sports columnists working, has written a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, under the circumstances, is quite provocative. Moore reasons that the Falcons need to cut Vick now, which isn't a novel thought, but is unusual coming from a commentator in the city where the athlete plays.

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