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Jul. 27 2009 - 4:53 pm | 3 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Michael Vick is welcome in the NFL, sort of

vickvertMichael Vick, who missed the last two NFL seasons after pleading guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation, was conditionally reinstated by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. The decision comes a week after Vick completed his sentence on July 20.

The decision makes Vick, 29, eligible to sign with a team, join it during training camp and play in the final two preseason games. But N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell has not determined when Vick can return to regular-season games. That ruling is to come by Week 6 of the season, in mid-October.

In a letter to Vick on Monday, Goodell noted that Vick’s margin for error was “extremely limited.” He wrote: “My decision at that time will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer, and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football, the absence of any further adverse involvement in law enforcement, and other concrete actions that you take that are consistent with your representations to me.”

via N.F.L. Grants Vick an Opening – NYTimes.com

More than a few columnists have said Vick has paid his debt to society and has the right to play football again. But playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. By torturing and killing dogs, Vick gave up that privilege. Shouldn’t he have to earn it back? Shouldn’t he have to prove he is worthy of that privilege again?

At this point, it remains to be seen if any team will want Vick on its roster. Released by Atlanta, the team that once bestowed Vick with a $130 million contract, no other team in the NFL has hinted at being interested so far with training camps about to open.

Maybe teams will put character and image ahead of football for once and stay away from Michael Vick. But I doubt it.


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    I have a suggestion for Mr. Vick.

    While it’s true he has “paid his debt to society”, at least as far as having served his active jail time, he still has a debt that isn’t paid. That debt is to do whatever it takes to restore the confidence and trust the fans of football used to have in him before his dog fighting escapades, if it can even be restored. However, if he is sincere about wanting to play football once again and truly wants to show the proper level of regret for having committed the acts he was convicted of, I have a suggestion. That suggestion is he be signed to play for whatever team is willing to take a chance on him regardless of who it is and to play out that contract for the league minimum salary. In other words, just how sorry are you Mr. Vick? Sorry enough to be allowed back into the game you so royally disrespected that you are now willing to play for next to nothing and the love of the game? Or, is it really all about the money?

  2. collapse expand

    Ms. Bernstein,

    I am sorry to sound cynical here but I suspect that the reason no one has rolled out the red carpet is that this man has not played pro ball in two seasons. This is a young man’s sport where most players only last a few seasons. He would probably be nearly the end of his career even if had not been involved in the rather unpleasant dog fighting business.

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    I'm a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C., a Yankee transplant in a Bible belt town that is home to Billy Graham, TARP-infused banks, stock-car racing and that signature Southern culinary abomination: Barbeque.

    I write mostly about sports as a regular contributor to The New York Times. I was a staff writer at the Detroit Free Press, Hartford Courant and other newspapers. Over the years, I have written for many publications and Web sites, covering everything from the Super Bowl to the Daytona 500. When it comes to sports, I am usually irreverent, occasionally indignant and sometimes intolerant of folks who take this form of entertainment too seriously. It's supposed to be a game, you know.

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