Sources: Vick suspension near

Two NFL sources said that commissioner Roger Goodell likely will announce this week or next the suspension of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick for the 2007 season.

"That's the direction it's going and has been from the time this started," one of the sources said this week.

In July, Goodell told Vick not to report to training camp in the aftermath of a federal indictment for his alleged involvement in dogfighting on a property he owned in Virginia. Vick has since been arraigned on the matter and is facing trial in November.

What is unclear is whether Vick will be allowed to return to the Falcons this season if he is acquitted. This offseason, Goodell suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for the entire season but added stipulations that could allow Jones to return earlier if he clears his record.

Said the other source: "The plan was to make sure it was announced before the season. Given what everybody has seen from what (league) security found and what the feds are telling us, there's really no choice."

From a public relations standpoint, the NFL would like the matter dealt with before the opening week of the season. The feeling is that if the league can resolve the matter now, any further news on Vick will not detract from the buildup to the season.

The NFL has examined the indictment against Vick at length and has conducted a quasi-investigation of its own. The league has not interviewed anyone associated with the case, but it has pored over as many public documents as it could find.

The most careful element of the suspension is how it will be worded. Under the league's new personal conduct policy, there is some belief that Vick could escape punishment because this is the first time he has been charged with a crime.

However, Goodell hinted last week that because Vick was charged with multiple counts, including gambling on dogfights, the league may have a way around that. In an interview with USA Today, Goodell said that while he was disturbed by the dogfighting accusations, the gambling aspect is just as meaningful.

"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 NFL's gambling policy, which was established long before the personal conduct policy, has resulted in the suspension of players in the past. Both Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for the entire 1963 season after admitting they placed bets on NFL games.

Players can be banned for life for illegal gambling.