Vick: One Foot In Door

Commissioner Grants Quarterback Conditional Reinstatement To Nfl

July 28, 2009|By Sam Farmer | Sam Farmer,Tribune Newspapers

Michael Vick, sidelined from pro football for two years in the wake of a dogfighting scandal, has received a conditional reinstatement from the NFL, clearing the way for him to return this season.

But a question remains: Which team - if any- is ready to step up and sign the disgraced quarterback?

That's the next step after Monday's news that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has lifted the indefinite suspension of Vick in hopes of granting him full reinstatement by Week 6 at latest, and possibly earlier.

"I have thought about every alternative," Goodell said in a conference call. "But I think this gives him the best chance for success. We are not looking for a failure here; we are looking to see a young man succeed."

The announcement came a week after Vick completed his federal sentence, which lasted 20 months with the first 18 in prison and the last two under home confinement in Hampton, Va.

Vick, 29, once among the richest and most recognizable players in the game, has been courted by the start-up United States Football League but, at least publicly, has yet to garner interest from NFL suitors.

"There are two ways of looking at it," said an NFL team personnel executive who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the interests of his franchise. "You're going to get a guy for minimum [salary] who was one of the highest-paid players in the league. ... But there's also so much to deal with during the season. To have to deal with that distraction is a nightmare."

Although he initially denied any involvement in dogfighting, Vick eventually admitted to killing underperforming animals in various ways, including drowning, hanging, electrocution and slamming their bodies to the ground.

In recent months, Vick met both in prison and in his home with Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle said Vick has made a commitment to participate in the group's anti-dogfighting campaign.

Asked whether he would expect protests at games if and when Vick returns, Pacelle said: "I can't predict. ... Very few people accept what he did. But a lot of people will be forgiving if he helps combat the problem."

Under the reinstatement plan, Vick is free to sign with a team immediately and participate in preseason practices, workouts, meetings and play in that club's final two exhibition games. He could receive full reinstatement at any point, but Goodell said he would grant that by the weekend of Oct. 18-19 at the latest, provided Vick lives up to his end of the agreement.

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