NEW YORK (AP) - While commissioner Roger Goodell was meeting with officials of the ASPCA, about 50 people urged the NFL to "Sack Vick" Friday in a demonstration outside the league's headquarters following the indictment of Michael Vick on dogfighting charges.
"Sack Vick!" chanted the demonstrators, organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as they walked peacefully in front of the Park Avenue building. Many held dogs who had the "Sack Vick" signs on their backs and one woman brought a pit bull, the breed killed in the dogfighting operation the Atlanta quarterback is accused of sponsoring.
The leaders of the demonstration focused on Goodell's one-year suspension of Tennessee's Adam "Pacman" Jones under the NFL's personal conduct policy, although Jones has not been convicted of any crime.
"We think they should do the same with Michael Vick," said Dan Shannon, an assistant director of campaigns for PETA. "We don't think their 'wait and see' attitude goes far enough. If they suspended Pacman Jones, they can suspend Vick."
The NFL said after Vick was indicted Tuesday, it was watching legal developments in the case. Vick is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in Richmond, Va.
"Michael Vick's guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts," the league's statement said. "The matter will be reviewed under the League's Personal Conduct Policy.
Sherry Ramsey, a staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, said he was disappointed at the league "wait and see attitude.
"There is a precedent in the Jones suspension," she said.
Ramsey said her organization wrote to the NFL in May, offering to work with the league help educate players about dogfighting. She said it did not receive a reply.
However, two letters written June 21 by the NFL to the Humane Society, provided to The Associated Press by the league, said warnings on animal fighting and animal cruelty are now being included in the annual briefings by the league security staff to players. Those briefings will take place at all 32 training camps this summer.
"We are in total agreement that there is no place for animal cruelty and illegal animal fighting and take very seriously the allegations of dog fighting against Michael Vick," Peter Abitante, Goodell's personal assistant, wrote nearly a month before Tuesday's indictments.
"We certainly do not condone this activity and will not tolerate cruelty or mistreatment of animals. If Mr. Vick or anyone associated with the NFL is found to have violated state or federal law, the commissioner has stated publicly that he will impose significant discipline under our personal conduct policy."
Earlier this year, the NFL began working with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on programs and public service announcements to educate players and the public on the importance of caring properly for animals.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)