ESPN is now refuting the earlier story. No decision has been made on Vick’s suspension. is reporting that Michael Vick will receive a four game suspension and be allowed to return to the NFL during the 2009 season.

The good news for ESPN this week is that its decision not to devote reporting assets to the Ben Roethlisberger case has allowed it to do some great work regarding the Mike Vick situation.

Earlier in the week, ESPN reported that Vick and Commissioner Roger Goodell would meet this week. Despite rumors that the meeting would not occur so quickly, it happened Wednesday afternoon.

So +1 to Bristol. (And -1 to the idiots who posted the rumor that the meeting wouldn’t happen this week.)

Sal Paolantonio and Chris Mortensen of ESPN are now reporting that Vick will be conditionally reinstated early next week, and he’ll then be suspended four additional games.

Per the report, Goodell also is expected to warn Vick that any future problems will result in additional punishment. (We were going to say that Vick will be on a “tight leash,” but we thought better of it. Oops.)

This means that Vick will be permitted to sign with a new team and participate in training camp and the preseason before sitting out the first quarter of the campaign.

Though it’s not a home run for Vick, it’s great news. Given his crimes and the fact that he previously lied to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s face (and the rest of his body), Vick easily could have been suspended for most if not all of the 2009 season.

But public opinion has generally favored the notion that Vick should receive a second chance. The fact that an upstart pro football league would have been waiting with open arms to sign Vick likely didn’t hurt matters, either.