A few thoughts on the Michael Vick ruling

We haven’t had too much time to digest commissioner Roger Goodell‘s decision to conditionally reinstate QB Michael Vick today, but I wanted to throw out a few quick thoughts about it before heading to Goodell’s press conference.

Generally it’s what people around the league expected, with coaches and team executives figuring Vick would be allowed to play in NFL games at some point in 2009 as long as he continued to stay out of trouble and abide by all the rules of his probation. This is a country of second chances, and, in the eyes of many people around the league that I’ve contacted, Vick had served a severe punishment through the judicial system and merited a chance to show he was worthy of playing in the league again. That is in essence what he was granted today.

The sheer length and depth of the press release issued by the league connotes everything — this was a major decision the commissioner faced. It was a ruling months in the making, and the league conducted a thorough and detailed investigation leading up to this point. During a conference call, the commissioner said he received “a very mixed reaction,” when  speaking with many current and former players and coaches, as well as leaders in other fields and professions, to gauge their opinions on Vick.

It came down to one man’s decision, and I think the ability for Vick to become a free agent now, as well as to receive ample time to live right and get himself in shape by Week 6, makes sense. This is someone who is just now getting the chance to handle all of the responsibility that comes with freedom, and it’s up to him to do so.

The reality is no one was looking at Vick to start games right away. Furthermore, Vick ultimately will have a new system to learn, and that takes time, too. So there is a buffer there now, given the nature of this reinstatement, and that also helps temper expectations for an immediate payoff from anyone, should Vick get a contract.

When I asked Joel Segal, Vick’s agent, how soon Vick might be ready to audition for NFL scouts, he said he wasn’t going to address football matters about the quarterback today. He did, however, convey Vick’s very positive reaction to the opportunity that Goodell has provided.

“Mike is thankful the commissioner issued his reinstatement,” Segal said. “He’s thrilled for the opportunity and he understands that he has a lot to prove, and he’s looking forward to resuming his career in the NFL.”

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