Former Falcons' QB Michael Vick was released from prison yesterday. Sentenced to 23 months in prison for dog fighting, Vick was allowed to complete the last two months of his sentence as home confinement in Virginia.
Vick is to work a construction job while he awaits word from the NFL about whether he will be reinstated for the upcoming season. He remains on indefinite suspension by the league, pending a decision by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about his playing status.
Goodell reiterated Tuesday at a meeting of the NFL's franchise owners in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., that he won't address the matter until the legal process is completed. Goodell has said that Vick would have to demonstrate genuine remorse to be reinstated.
"Michael is going to have to demonstrate to myself and to the general public and to a lot of people: Did he learn anything from this experience? Does he regret what happened? Does he feel that he can be a positive influence going forward?" Goodell said Tuesday. "Those are the questions that I would like to see [answered] when I sit with him."
I believe that the NFL wants Vick back in the NFL. Goodell is busy setting the frame of the debate for the public: 1) Vick needs to be sorry and 2) Vick needs to publicly express remorse. That should be easy enough for Vick to do, whether it's true or not. Once he does that, then he can be absolved by a member of the clergy.
In the case of the NFL, the clergy is former Colts' Head Coach Tony Dungy. Widely considered to be one of the most thoughful and openly spiritual men ever to coach in the NFL, Dungy has been visiting Vick in prison and has exchanged emails about it with Commissioner Goodell. If (when) Tony Dungy publicly announces that he believes Vick is truly sorry for his crimes, then Goodell has the cover he needs to announce that Vick's indefinite suspension is over.
At that point the Falcons will release him and teams will spend some time tip-toeing around him. A lot of teams don't want anything to do with Vick and the PR nightmare that they think he'll bring, but some teams have enough goodwill that they can get through it. Hard-nosed disciplinarian Tom Coughlin could use an all-purpose back/receiver in New York. Bill Belicheck reformed Randy Moss (mostly) and the Pats really don't have a halfback. Bill Parcells doesn't fear any controversy -- can you imagine what kind of damage Vick could do in Miami in the wildcat offense?! Damn.
There's far too much upside to Mike Vick's return for the NFL to allow him to bag groceries for the rest of his life. Goodell is clearing the path for Mike Vick to play NFL football once again.