Before you even start with me, this is not a post about whether what Michael Vick did, was convicted of, and served time for was good, bad, tragic, nonsensical, none of that. The man did the crime, paid the time and now he's got to live the rest of his life.
Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the ruling that will allow Vick the chance to make a living doing (what I assume) he does best, play professional football in the National Football League. In his press conference this afternoon, Mr. Goodell further stated that he has asked Tony Dungy to act as his mentor. From ESPN:
NEW YORK -- Michael Vick is back in the NFL. Now all he needs is a team to play for.
Vick, free after serving 18 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring, was reinstated with conditions by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. He could participate in regular-season games as early as October.
Vick can immediately take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games -- if he can find a team that will sign him. A number of teams have already said they would not.
Once the season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.
According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, a source close to Vick expressed "shock" over the severity of Vick's punishment and said Vick will reapply for full reinstatement as early as Week 1.
Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 after the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback admitted bankrolling a dogfighting operation on his property in Virginia. At the time, Goodell said Vick must show remorse before he would consider reinstating him.
"I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around, and that you intend to be a positive role model for others," Goodell said in his letter to Vick. "I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands."
"Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited," the letter said. "I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you."
Vick, once the highest-paid player in the league, said he was grateful for a second chance.
"I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League," Vick said in a statement released by his agent, Joel Segal. "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given.
"As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to revaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward."
The announcement came after a busy first week of freedom for Vick, who met with union leaders and Goodell on consecutive days last week. His 23-month federal sentence ended when an electronic monitor was removed from his ankle early on July 20 at his home in Hampton, Va.
I think having Tony Dungy as mentor is a classy move all the way around. There are few people in and around the game of football that are more respected than Dungy. My hope for Michael is that he gets the chance to play this year and that he plays well. Additionally, I would hope that all the stark-raving PETA-extremists (wanted Vick to have a psych eval prior to reinstatement) would take a step back and give the man a chance to earn a living. He paid his debt and I think he should be treated accordingly.
This does not mean that I won't be holding my breath and chanting, "Don't screw this up, don't screw this up, don't screw this up..." The list of NFL players that have been given second (third, fourth) chances and tossed them away is lengthy and regrettable (that's worthy of a post of it's own someday). For now, I wish nothing but good things for Mike.
But I'm an NFL fanatic and purist. In my heart, I want the best players in the world on the field performing brilliantly everyday… but I recognize that's just me. Any thoughts on the Vick announcement? Any hopes as to which team he ends up playing on?