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Falcons' Vick fined for obscene gesture

Michael Vick was fined $10,000 by the NFL and agreed to donate another $10,000 to charity for an obscene hand gesture toward Falcons fans following last weekend's loss to New Orleans.

"I broke a rule and now I'm paying the price," Vick said yesterday. "The good thing is I get to donate a portion of it to charity."

Vick rushed for 166 yards in Sunday's 31-13 loss, just 7 yards short of his NFL record for a quarterback.

But that didn't make up for a dismal performance by the Falcons, who dropped five passes and were booed loudly following their fourth straight loss. Vick showed his unhappiness by making the gesture with both hands as he walked off the Georgia Dome field.

"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."

Strahan lashes out
Losing isn't the only thing contagious on the Giants these days.

Blowups are just as popular, and Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan joined the ranks of Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber in mouthing off in what is quickly becoming a season of frustration for the team.

Unlike Shockey and Barber, who criticized coach Tom Coughlin and his staff following losses earlier this season, Strahan did his best to intimidate an ESPN reporter who attempted to question him about comments he made on radio Monday about receiver Plaxico Burress quitting on plays.

Strahan, sidelined the past three weeks because of a foot injury, called out Kelly Naqi, ESPN's New York-based reporter, as she stood behind about three-dozen members of the media trying to question him.

"You're a responsible journalist, look me in the eye and ask this question the way you want to ask it," said Strahan.

Naqi then asked Strahan whether he had spoken with Burress since his comments, which came before the Giants held a players' only meeting Monday after a 24-21 loss to Tennessee.

"I haven't spoken to you about it," he said. "I have spoken to Plaxico. I spoke to Plaxico in the team meeting, as well."

The one piece of good news the Giants got was that All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora and weakside linebacker Brandon Short both practiced. They were both hurt in a win at Dallas and have missed the past five games.

Play sickens owner
Owner Randy Lerner was repulsed by the way the Browns were manhandled Sunday at home by the Bengals and troubled by wide receiver Braylon Edwards's sideline rant against teammates. "I found Sunday to be sickening," Lerner said. "Everything. I thought the lack of composure. The lack of performance." Coach Romeo Crennel said he believes he has control of the team and is convinced he can keep the Browns (3-8) from splintering over the next five weeks. "You'll see this team stay together," Crennel vowed. "This team will fight, this team will compete as we go forward." . . . The Raiders' soap opera season took another strange turn when coach Art Shell accused a member of the organization of trying to undermine the coaching staff and rooting against the team. Shell did not name the person, but said it was not a coach or a player. He said the person has been calling media members around the country and criticizing coaches.

Hasselbeck 'fine'
Matt Hasselbeck has a bruised left hand, perhaps even a broken finger. But Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said that his quarterback is "fine," will start Sunday, and should have no limitations . . . Jets offensive lineman Adrian Jones, 25, said he hopes other players learn from his mistake last weekend, when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. "I can be an example to the other players in the NFL, in college or in the lower levels," Jones said in his first public comments since the incident Saturday morning . . . Track star Justin Gatlin, who last played football in high school, worked out for the Texans, but coach Gary Kubiak said signing him was "not something we would do right now." . . . Saints starting tight end Ernie Conwell was placed on injured reserve because of a lingering knee injury, ending his season . . . Panthers running back DeShaun Foster (hyperextended left elbow) practiced and is questionable for Monday's game at Philadelphia . . . Verizon will offer the NFL Network to its broadband customers beginning Dec. 7, the telecommunications company said . . . Steve Weinberg, a former sports agent who was decertified by the NFL Players Association, has filed a $36 million lawsuit, saying he was punished for his frequent criticism of the union.

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