Not so fast. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has determined that now that the legal part of Vick's woes have reached an end, it's the NFL's turn to pronounce a judgment.
Mike & Mike In The Morning had former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent on this morning. Vincent said something along the lines of why should the NFL punish Vick any further than the law already has? The judge handed down a sentence, Vick served it, and in the eyes of the law, he's served his time.
I will freely admit that I have wavered on Vick quite a bit, unable to decide if I felt that Vick should be allowed to play or not. I think I am now leaning toward the idea that he should be allowed to - if he can.
There are a bunch of NFL teams that could use a quarterback, even one as raw as Michael Vick. He was an exciting and talented player, no doubt, but I don't think he would be mistaken for a traditional, pocket passing, ball control quarterback.
And that's fine. His style of play was good enough to land the Falcons in the playoffs and to score impressive wins in 2002 (27-7 over the Packers) and 2004 (47-17 over the Rams). I may be going out on a limb here, but I suspect that the Falcons could not have won those games, let alone been there to even play them, without Michael Vick.
So give him a shot. Training camps start soon, he'd be able to get himself in there and try out for a team. He'd have to deal with whatever controversy follows him, but I feel he should be given a shot.
Do I condone his actions? Of course not. Neither did the judge who presided over his trial. But that judge assigned a punishment, and now that punishment is finished. It seems that this action might not be good enough for Goodell.
And I can see his point. The NFL is a business after all, and it's in Goodell's (and the team owners) best interest to eliminate any potential PR problems, be they past, current or potential. There's no getting around the fact that Vick is now a 'controversial' figure.
Goodell wants him to demonstrate that he has reformed himself and that he can and will be a productive member of society. In the interest of protecting the multi-billion dollar entity that is the NFL, Goodell's thinking here makes lots of sense.
But if Vick has been punished by the law, while he is hardly innocent, he is, theoretically, available to rejoin the workforce. And his profession happens to be football player. Despite my personal feelings about what he did, I think the NFL should back off and see what happens.
This isn't like other situations that Goodell has had to preside over. This case actually has an ending. Vick was convicted, sent to prison and released. If Vick does something dumb and gets himself in trouble in the ensuing weeks, then Goodell can pounce, and he'd be in the right. He is correct that the NFL brand is a very valuable one, and one that cannot afford to be tarnished by the players that are the most visible face of that brand.
Personally, I think Vick should seek out other options. The CFL or the UFL would certainly be interested in having an exciting, talented player like Vick in their midst. The CFL offers distance. The UFL offers newness, a lack of the bright spotlight that is constantly on the NFL, and most importantly, the need for a splash.
I think that Vick and the UFL would be a good fit. They have some good, experienced former NFL coaches there (Jim Fassel, Dennis Green, Jim Haslett and Ted Cottrell), any of which would surely be able to deal with Vick's notoriety.
The other great thing the UFL would offer is a chance at redemption. Vick could ply his trade, earn money to pay off debts and possibly work out any issues that might be plaguing him. If all goes well, he could spend two or three years there, and then look to the NFL again.
It's a shame that ESPN has reported that Vick has little interest in either of these two leagues. If Vick did go to either league and was a model citizen and demonstrated "genuine remorse" (I find this notion of Goodell's distasteful), I think Goodell would be more than willing to listen.
After all, if Vick does well, and becomes the crowd pleaser he once was, the dollars will follow. And I can't imagine that there is any dollar that Goodell would allow to escape the NFL's coffers.
Resources: Mike & Mike In The Morning, Pro Football Reference and the article "For Vick, Freedom Rekindles Debate; Return to the NFL Remains a Question" from the July 21 Washington Post.