Michael Vick is welcome in the NFL, sort of
Michael 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.”
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.