Vick fined $10,000 for gestures

Len Pasquarelli and Len Pasquarelli

By Len Pasquarelli

ATLANTA – Quarterback Michael Vick has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for the obscene gestures that he directed toward heckling fans following the Falcons’ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

In addition to the fine, Vick has agreed to donate $10,000 to a charity of his choice.

“I broke a rule and now I’m paying the price,” Vick said Wednesday. “The good thing is I get to donate a portion of it to charity.”

It is not known who suggested the charitable donation, but that element was part of the discussions between the league and Vick’s representatives over the past two days. Obviously, there will be no appeal of the fine.

“I can’t really say whether it’s fair or not,” Vick said. “But the league makes the rules and I broke the rules. It is what it is — 20 Gs. I shouldn’t have done what I did.”

He hasn’t decided which charity will get his $10,000, but seemed eager to put the matter behind him.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he planned to meet privately with Vick to discuss the incident.

“Michael knows his actions were inappropriate and he has taken responsibility for them, apologized to our fans, and been fined by the NFL,” Blank said. “We know, through all his time with the Falcons, that this is not characteristic of Mike and not the way he represents our club.”

In the past, players who made obscene gestures on the field and were first-time offenders typically were fined $5,000 by the NFL.

Vick’s base salary for 2006 is $1.4 million, but that is hardly reflective of the magnitude of his contract, which was extended last year and can be worth as much as $130 million. Because league action supersedes anything the Falcons might want to do, there will be no sanctions by the club.

The incident for which Vick was fined occurred shortly after the Falcons lost to the Saints, 31-13, a defeat in which the Georgia Dome crowd jeered the home team and its quarterback much of the day. As Vick was heading toward the tunnel that leads to the Falcons’ locker room, he exchanged words with fans screaming at him, then alternately extended the middle fingers of both hands.

Vick issued an apology through the Falcons hours after the incident. On Monday afternoon, he again apologized during a news conference at team headquarters.

“It was just a part of a situation where my emotions got the best of me,” Vick said. “I apologize sincerely to all my fans and to everybody who saw me make that gesture. ” It won’t happen again.”