NFL commissioner Roger Goodell‘s move to conditionally reinstate Michael Vick was a Solomon-like decision that came short of splitting the baby. The parameters that allow Vick to return to the NFL speak to the concerns of everyone who cares.
For animal activists, Vick must continue working to champion animal rights and awareness in order to redeem his own rights as a player in a public-conscious sports league.
For the NFL, its teams and its fans, the ruling allows the final wheels of justice to move toward a conclusion to what has been a long-running embarrassing tale. It also allows for those teams interested in Vick to begin a more-open vetting process while inquiring about the embattled quarterback’s services.
For Vick, the conditional reinstatement offers a slow integration process that will continue to place him under the watchful eye of the NFL and the wise counsel of his mentor, Tony Dungy. The decision continues to hold Vick accountable and will demand that he remains a model citizen in the months to come.
Furthermore, Vick’s probationary period will be a reminder that his return to the NFL is a privilege and not a right. Vick stands at the precipice where one wrong move could cost him everything. AGAIN!
By allowing Vick to immediately go to work in training camp, Goodell has opened the door for the quarterback to shake off the rust accumulated over two years of inactivity. By delaying Vick’s return to the field in regular-season games, Goodell has built in a reasonable timetable for the quarterback to either prove himself rehabilitated or fail on his road to recovery.
No move by Goodell will please everyone. However, those who understand the balance of justice and believe in the possibility of redemption applaud Goodell’s efforts to pave a road that leads Vick back to the game in which he is most familiar. Now it’s up to Vick to travel that road with the honesty and integrity that for him has been mostly unfamiliar.