LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Fa…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, who has had a close relationship with quarterback Michael Vick, said he was “saddened and distressed” by Vick’s federal indictment on charges relating to dogfighting, the New York Times reports.

Blank, who made his first comments yesterday after returning from an overseas vacation Wednesday morning, has been huddling with team and N.F.L. officials to determine what to do about Vick.

Blank is so fond of Vick that he once pushed an injured Vick’s wheelchair along the sideline.

Vick’s legal troubles prompted Nike to suspend the release of its latest product line named after Vick. Nike has told retailers it will not release a fifth signature shoe, the Air Zoom Vick V, this summer. Dean Stoyer, a Nike spokesman, said the four shoe products and three shirts that bear Vick’s name will remain in stores.

Stoyer said that Nike still has a contract with Vick, but declined to speculate on Vick’s future with the company.

Stoyer, who declined to discuss terms of Vick’s contract, indicated the company had no commercials or documentaries planned with Vick, a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

A statement released by Nike said the company “is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick, and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore, we have not terminated our relationship.”

The N.F.L. will probably wait for Vick’s case to make its way through the legal system before determining what it will do under the league’s personal-conduct policy.

Vick will be arraigned on the charges next week in federal court in Richmond, Va.

“This is an emotionally charged and complicated matter,” Blank’s statement said. “There are a wide range of interests and legal issues that need to be carefully considered as we move ahead, including our need to respect the due process that Michael is entitled to. Also, this situation affects everyone — our club, our players and associates, our sponsors, our fans and the Atlanta community among them — so we must consider all of our customers in making any decisions.

“Given the differing perspectives and strong feelings around this issue, we probably won’t make everyone happy, but we are committed to doing the right thing. As the owner of this club, that’s ultimately my responsibility. In the meantime, know that I’m saddened and distressed about this not for myself, but for our fans and community who have been so loyal to us. We will do our very best to continue to earn your support.”

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