Vick scheduled to make first court appearance on July 26

Updated: July 18, 2007, 5:59 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- If the goal of Atlanta Falcons management was to keep Michael Vick's legal entanglements from interrupting matters on the field and limiting distractions as they relate to football matters, they have already failed.

According to a summons issued Wednesday, the Falcons' quarterback is scheduled to make his first court appearance after being indicted by a federal grand jury on July 26. Vick faces multiple charges related to an alleged dogfighting ring at a home he owned in Virginia. July 26 is the same day the Falcons are scheduled for the initial on-field practice under first-year coach Bobby Petrino.

So instead of being in the huddle for the first training camp practice of what many NFL observers contend is the most crucial season of his career, Vick will be in a Richmond, Va., courtroom.

The quarterback is to appear for a 3:30 p.m. bond hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Dohnal. That will be followed by a 4 p.m. arraignment before U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, who would likely be the presiding judge if Vick goes to trial.

HSUS starts campaign
against Vick
On Wednesday, officials from the Humane Society of United States and PETA called for the immediate suspension of Michael Vick. The HSUS launched an e-mail campaign to the NFL on its Web site.

"The NFL has had 24 hours to digest this, and I guess they're still digesting it," John Goodwin, deputy manager of the HSUS' animal cruelty campaign, said. "But in our view, what needs to be done is crystal clear.

"... This is not a situation where they can treat him with kid gloves," Goodwin said. "This guy is supposed to be a role model, and he's doing things like [allegedly] slamming dogs to the ground, hanging dogs, fighting dogs. The NFL says it has a higher standard. They need to prove that."
The Falcons are scheduled to practice at 3 p.m.

While the timing of Vick's court appearance on a federal indictment filed Tuesday is certainly inconvenient from a football standpoint, it is still better than some of his advisors thought it might be. There was some feeling in the Vick camp that he might have to appear within a day or two of the indictment being filed.

The court proceedings are expected to be brief. Bond will likely be set, and Vick will pay it and then be released. The expectation is that he will rejoin his teammates for the Friday practice, which is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.

That is assuming, of course, that neither the league nor the Falcons impose any sanctions against Vick before training camp begins. Falcons owner Arthur Blank arrived back here early Wednesday morning after a trip to Africa and was to spend much of the day reviewing Vick's situation. Sources close to the situation said there has already been dialogue between Falcons' officials and the league office.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.