Note to Michael Vick: This wasn’t the hard part.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally reinstated Vick and, as expected, he likely will make him sit out the first month of the regular season. But finally getting the league’s blessing to resume his career is only the first hurdle Vick has to overcome.
Initially, the biggest thing working against Vick is the calendar. NFL teams open training camps this weekend. The league’s coaches are notorious control freaks when it comes to atmosphere. General managers are similar when it comes to the roster. The league’s owners are trying to sell tickets and sponsorships in a depressed economy. The last thing anybody wants to deal with right now is the kind of stir that a Vick signing is going to create — just before training camp.
Nobody wants demonstrations. Nobody wants helicopters flying over head. Nobody wants the media circus.
Do I believe a team will take a flier on him? Yes. (Early guesses: Redskins, Raiders, Dolphins, Rams, Saints). But this isn’t going to be an easy leap for some franchise to take.
Understand something: If this was February, a team could take the initial PR hit in the winter and have it likely die down (somewhat) by late summer. Now, if Vick is signed right away, the storm will follow his team through training camp, the pre-season and into the regular season. What also needs to be weighed is what kind of positive impact the former Pro Bowl quarterback can have on a team this season? Vick obviously won’t have time to fully digest a playbook or work with an offense. So his contribution could be limited (goal-line situations, etc.).
The question: Given the backdrop, will that be worth it for a team? After nearly two years, Vick will need time get back in shape and acclimate himself to public life again.
In a statement released to the Associated Press, Vick said: “As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to re-evaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward.”
Let us hope that is the case.
I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: I hope Vick rehabilitates himself, not merely for his career but for his life and his children. But reinstatement from Roger Goodell is only step one.