Bottle lands QB Vick in hot water


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) – For the third time in nine months, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment. He was not arrested and was allowed to board an AirTran flight that landed in Atlanta before noon Wednesday.

Miami police said Thursday it could be weeks before a decision is made on whether to file charges against the three-time Pro Bowl player, who this season became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, general manager Rich McKay and new coach Bobby Petrino met with Vick, who left team headquarters without speaking to reporters. McKay described Blank as being “upset” with the quarterback, whose $137 million contract was richest in the NFL when Vick signed it three years ago.

“We are an organization that prides itself on not having off-the-field issues,” McKay said. “I think we have done a pretty good job of bringing the right people in here so we don’t have to face these types of issues. We don’t like it. We don’t accept it. It is not what we want.”

Under Florida law, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. First offenders rarely do any jail time.

“We’ll do an analysis and see what it is. There’s no sense of urgency to it,” Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said.

The NFL’s substance abuse policy states any team can decide that a player’s “behavior, including but not limited to an arrest,” can warrant a physical exam from its appointed medical director. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said no decision had been made in Vick’s case.

“We have a process that provides guidelines for every situation,” Aiello said. “Our doctors conduct a lengthy evaluation, if necessary, and then decide if enrollment in a treatment program is necessary.”

Last April, Vick settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed the player knowingly gave her herpes.

In November, Vick made an obscene gesture toward Atlanta fans who heckled the team as it came off the field after a 31-13 loss to New Orleans.

Vick apologized profusely, paid a $10,000 team fine and donated another $10,000 to charity.

Now, another embarrassing situation for Vick. Are the Falcons concerned that a disturbing pattern is emerging with the face of their franchise?

“No, I don’t think there is, because I think I know the person,” McKay said. “But when it comes to somebody this high profile, you have to do everything possible to avoid this situation. I think he understands it.”

On Wednesday, two Transportation Security Administration screeners recognized the 6-foot, 215-pound Vick when he was reluctant to turn over his 20-ounce bottle.

The bottle was found to have a compartment that contained “a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana,” a Miami police report said. The compartment was hidden by the bottle’s label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright, police said.

Petrino, who met Vick for the first time Thursday under less-than-ideal conditions, refused to answer questions from reporters, but he could open training camp by giving backup Matt Schaub a chance to win the job.

McKay hopes Vick will avoid further trouble and play well enough to keep his starting position.

“We are not trying to have … continuous off-the-field instances on our football team,” McKay said. “It is not fair to the fans. It is not what we want to talk about. We want to talk about the football. Hopefully, this is the last time this offseason you have to come out and see us.”

Associated Press Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.

AP-ES-01-18-07 1935EST