Michael Vick’s “conditional reinstatement”: I don’t get it

The NFL has finally ruled. Michael Vick can practice, but he can’t play until the final two preseason games. (This assumes he can find a team that will hire him, which I believe he will.) Once the regular season commences, he can do everything except play in games.

That’s in September and the first half of October. Once October passes its midpoint, he can play in real games, too.

I don’t get it.

Maybe there’s a Solomonic compromise embedded in Roger Goodell’s ruling, but for the life of me I can’t find it. What I see is a commissioner who felt pressured to do something even if he wasn’t quite sure doing anything more is warranted. So he half-stepped. He also overstepped.

This is, to use a football term, piling on. Vick has been suspended by the NFL for 23 months and three days. If the league wanted to disassociate itself with him completely, it could have just said, “Suspension stands. Sorry, Mike.” But clearly it doesn’t want to disassociate itself with Vick. Clearly it doesn’t want him to pop up first in the low-rent United Football League. It wants to see him on an NFL field again.

Just not quite yet.

Is the NFL's "conditional reinstatement" fair?

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Why? For no other reason I can discern beyond cosmetic issues. The NFL wants Vick back but it doesn’t want to appear as it’s welcoming him back. And that’s understandable. He’s a convicted felon. He just did 20 months in government custody. But docking him six more games — eight if you count the two exhibitions — isn’t really a penalty. It’s a nuisance. It’s Goodell doing an Alexander Haig and saying, “I’m in charge here.”

OK, Vick embarrassed the NFL. We know that. And playing in the NFL isn’t a right but a privilege. We get that, too. But why have him on an NFL roster if you don’t want him playing — at least not yet — in NFL games? Either ban him or reinstate him fully. Why drag this into October? Why spend 2 1/2 more months reminding everyone of one of the sorriest chapters in league history? Why not just clear him and be done with it?

Because Roger Goodell wanted to look tough. But Roger Goodell didn’t want to look so tough as to drive Vick to a start-up league. So he tried to split the difference. Sorry to say, he missed. This satisfy neither the Vick haters or the Vick supporters. I doubt this even satisfies Roger Goodell.

313 comments Add your comment

Tiffany

July 27th, 2009
4:19 pm

Leave the man alone already.

Alan

July 27th, 2009
4:20 pm

I believe that Goodell simply wants to make sure that Vick will behave himself so he is essentially putting him on probation. The guy is high risk and just because he has already paid a price for his crimes and lies, no one knows for sure if he has learned from his mistakes. Goodell did the right thing.

allan in texas

July 27th, 2009
4:21 pm

Well said Mr. Bradley. Have a nice day!

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2009
4:23 pm

See, I don’t think Michael Vick is a “high risk.” But maybe that’s just me.

Reid Adair

July 27th, 2009
4:25 pm

You make a very interesting point about the NFL not wanting Michael Vick in the UFL or some other league, Mark. I really don’t see what the point is of letting him sign with someone – but he can’t play in regular-season games until October.

If they’re still trying to make a point, let him stay suspended. Otherwise, take it off completely. If Roger Goodell wants “conditions,” just tell Vick if he screws up again, he’s out. That seems simple enough.

Let Him Play

July 27th, 2009
4:26 pm

Why the conditional reinstatement and continued suspension? Full reinstatement is essentially conditional on him staying clean and out of trouble. Goodell should have said you are fully reinstated – but one slip up and you are done. End of story.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 27th, 2009
4:29 pm

I’m no Vick supporter but enough is enough and I think Vick forgot to kiss the ring at his meeting. And what is the purpose, this on again off again crap is like Tommy Lee & Pamela Anderson without the sex tape.

Daniel

July 27th, 2009
4:29 pm

No, it’s not just you, Mark. He paid two years of his life and all of his wealth for a lifestyle mistake that was probably ingrained in him at an early age. Outside of that, Vick has done nothing to warrant the label “high risk”. No need to drag this circus out any longer and Goodell loses some credibility with this move in my eyes.

midnite

July 27th, 2009
4:29 pm

That is a bizarre ruling on the suspension. Four preseason games are too many. What happened to the talk last winter about three preseason and adding one additional to the regular season. Seems like the costs would be about the same, I know the tickets cost the same.

P Funk

July 27th, 2009
4:29 pm

I hope Vick does play again. And I hope to God somebody breaks his neck.

FalcTech

July 27th, 2009
4:30 pm

Vick is lucky to get what was handed down. In his own words” playing the NFL is a previledge”

Russ

July 27th, 2009
4:30 pm

IMO he should have been suspended for the entire 2009-10 season. This would have given the league an extended period of time to see if he could keep his nose clean. Then, if he didn’t have any further transgressions a full re-instatement would have been in order at the end of the season.

Linda

July 27th, 2009
4:31 pm

I wish Vick would never be able to play football again — in any league. It’s not a “mistake” when you continue to torture and kill dogs over, and over, and over. There is something wrong with him.

Tim

July 27th, 2009
4:31 pm

P Funk, trust me, that will more likely happen to you first before it does to him because clearly you deserve it more. Get a life!

uga_b

July 27th, 2009
4:32 pm

If I were Mike, I would go play in the UFL and basically be able to come in at the same time. He needs in-game work not clipboard toting. This ruling was asinine.

William

July 27th, 2009
4:34 pm

I agree with the either “ban him or reinstate him fully” and my response is to ban him fully. Michael Vick is a tarnished name that can only hurt the NFL. In a business sense… as the NFL is a business… if an employee has disrespected the entire company and brought nothing but bad publicity on it, which that’s all that I can see Vick providing… what employer… company… NFL Team… or whomever would ever want to hire that person back? This is absolutely ridiculous… Vick should be banned from the privilege of playing in the NFL and move on. I do not understand why for the life of me that because of his talents, the NFL should re-consider. Should all businesses re-hire a person because he or she had good looks and was nothing but bad news for the company… In all seriousness, there is absolutely no reason to reinstate Michael Vick at all and I personally regret the NFL’s decision to do so.

All I'm Saying Is...

July 27th, 2009
4:34 pm

Just another case of ‘the man’ trying to keep someone down even after they have served their sentence. (Couldn’t resist.)

In all seriousness, this decision really makes no sense other than “King” Roger making a ‘ruling’ that he can get away with in order to send the proverbial ‘message’ that no one can lie to the Commish—even if they have already cost themselves over $100 million and almost two years of time served in jail and now face a lifetime of trying to reclaim some shred of integrity.

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2009
4:34 pm

I would be very surprised if Michael Vick ran afoul of the law again. Very surprised.

But I’m often surprised, as you know.

KILJOY

July 27th, 2009
4:34 pm

You get paid money for second guessing people? Wow! Where can I sign up for this job? I just as qualified as you are. See below:

Mark Bradley is an idiot. Since the Commissioner has the discretion to make any ruling he wanted to, this ruling make perfect sense. (1) He made a statement to Mike Vick and every other idiot in the league that there is a penalty for hurting the league. (2) Any team considering Vick now knows the Comish takes this extremely seriously. (3) Every sports comemtator in the country now has something to do for the next three days, thus simulating the economy and keeping the NFL in the news.

how2fish

July 27th, 2009
4:35 pm

Lets see dog fighting, the airport deal, the other deal in the limo with the joint/no joint….oh yeah giving the fans the finger..where does High Risk kick in? He has paid his debt for his crime..but there are a lot of men who get blackballed for a felony..but I agree let him play or don’t let him play the rest is counterproductive.

personal

July 27th, 2009
4:35 pm

most of u ppl hate on vick well yal need to stop cuz vick is the best qaurter back alive he didnt even do anything it was his cuzin so stop hating cuz yal aint getting no fame he will be a legend this goes out to all yall hating stop hating on him go vick show da nfl wat u r about

midnite

July 27th, 2009
4:35 pm

Vick is for sure “high” risk he smokes weed, therefore he is always high.

uga_b

July 27th, 2009
4:35 pm

Suspending him during the preseason is plain silliness. Fun to note that the 3rd game is mostly starters and a lot of people are cut by the fourth game, which will give no indication of how he can perform. Then suspend him half the season.

personal

July 27th, 2009
4:36 pm

u a hater how2fish

homer

July 27th, 2009
4:36 pm

He shouldn’t have smoked that joint after he got busted.

so true

July 27th, 2009
4:37 pm

i agree mr.bradley, well said.

Glenn

July 27th, 2009
4:37 pm

Meh . Almost every expert who chimed in expected Vick to be suspended for the first four games . No real news here . Michael Vick aka Ron Mexico has embarrassed the NFL aplenty. You put that with his dishonesty about his criminal activity & you have a fairly just ruling IMO.

Falconfan

July 27th, 2009
4:37 pm

“Piling on” is just what this feels like. As deplorable as his crime was, Goodell should have taken the opportunity to expidite the healing process rather than remind everyone that we’re still supposed to resent him….

Sam

July 27th, 2009
4:37 pm

What is the point that he is trying to make. Just let him play. It’s almost like he couldn’t think of anything better so he came up with this

Russ

July 27th, 2009
4:38 pm

personal – What???

JustWaitnSEE!!!!

July 27th, 2009
4:39 pm

I’ve got to give Goodell credit on this; Although he did suspend Vick for the remainder of the season before he went to prison…this added suspension as well as being on probation does seem like quite a bit but it’s warranted, its needed and its truly what has to happen. Vick; you are and forever will the example of what not to do. Somewhere in America there is a young teenage ball player who already is being hounded by college scouts and he’s a witness to what can happen when you make horrible choices.
The extra time given will give Mike all the room he needs to fail and prove all the nay sayers right or to excel and become a full member of society and the NFL again. Good Luck Vick; You’ve got your 2nd chance and once again…It’s All up to You! Be strong!!

Chris

July 27th, 2009
4:39 pm

No need to worry about Michael Vick…He’s gonna go smoke his “weed”, fail a drug test and be out of the league and fighting parole violations long before he ever suits up for an offical NFL game.

Jimmy

July 27th, 2009
4:39 pm

I agree with the article, it is piling it on, but I don’t think it’s from Goodell showing who is charge, it’s a plan of ‘damage control’ because you know those PETA folks are gonna start up. He can at least say the NFL did something beyond the Government’s punishment. But listen, Vick has been out of football for 2 years. He won’t be near ready to step in as a starting QB until maybe towards the end of the season. He will have 6 weeks to get his mental reps in and work on his game. I’m just happy the guy is back, hopefully it’ll be a happy ending.

T-Bone

July 27th, 2009
4:39 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Mark. He broke the law, he served his time. If you want to suspend (though I’m not sure why), then do it. Otherwise, let him play.

In fact, I think the Falcons should sign him. He is an incredible talent and athlete. Let him play DB, or better yet let him play the wildcat–run, catch, throw. Besides, assuming he behaves himself (relatively speaking) what a great rags-to-riches story of forgiveness and redemption that would be.

Vick Supporter

July 27th, 2009
4:40 pm

I think it’s fair and piling on at the same time. Goodell has the right to do what he wants, and he’s staying somewhat consistent. The good thing is that Vick can get in practice. i fully believe he will catch on quickly…this guy is a phenomenon….just athletically…he can WIN more than alot of the QBs in the NFL right now. Another thing, Whoever the starter is, having Vick there can elevate that QB’s play…if he can handle #7 behind him,lol. If he was to get in trouble again, then there’s nothing more to say…he’ll be a loser, and I think he knows that. He willl get it done. Mark bradley…another great article.

how2fish

July 27th, 2009
4:40 pm

personal wow that was really harsh..what I dion’t say in the 1st post was if I was the commis I’d never let him play period. But if your going to let him play let him play now..if any team will brave the wrath of PETA..and personal how will I ever sleep tonight if we are not still friends??

All I'm Saying Is...

July 27th, 2009
4:40 pm

Russ: I agree with you that it would have made more sense to outright suspend him for one full season that this farce of a ruling that was handed down by “King” Roger.

FalcTech: Vick is ‘lucky’? He has repeatedly made some dumb decisions costing himself huge amounts of money, etc. but he is far from lucky. If he had any luck, none of his nefarious activities would have come to light. (And I do agree with you that playing in the NFL is not a right but its spelled privilege just so you know.)

Airtran - Delayed Arrival

July 27th, 2009
4:41 pm

Please somebody in one of the AFC teams pick him up and please DEFINITELY not a team in the NFC South..AMEN!

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2009
4:41 pm

The Falcons aren’t going to re-sign him, and I can’t blame them for that, either.

personal

July 27th, 2009
4:41 pm

alll yal need to stop commenting if yall goin to hate

Tbone

July 27th, 2009
4:41 pm

You should spell better, Personal. The man is entitled to his opinion…

Vick7Atl

July 27th, 2009
4:42 pm

Goodell flip flops

Said the Pats tapes were destroyed never saw them.

Implemented a new rule to protect QB’s after Brady’s injury, but Carson Palmer had the same one.

Seeing a pattern here?

Goodell is a joke, but Im glad Vick gets another chance.

brave1

July 27th, 2009
4:42 pm

I think it means he can study the playbook and get ready (for a change).

SloanZone

July 27th, 2009
4:42 pm

Mr. Bradley, please do your homework before you call the United Football League “low-rent.” It has ex-NFL executives at the top of the league, and four former longtime NFL coaches as its league’s head coaches. And it really isn’t fair to call a league low-rent before it even plays a game, is it?

Mac

July 27th, 2009
4:43 pm

The only condition needed was: Mess up again and you’re gone.

Too Bad

July 27th, 2009
4:44 pm

Bradley, how do you consider this piling on? He lied repeatedly about his involvement and then tested positive for drugs while he was indefinitely suspended. Also, wouldn’t a full reinstatment mean he would only miss 5 games, potentially 4 with a bye week if anyone signs him?

blord

July 27th, 2009
4:44 pm

Good luck Mike. Take ownership of your life, do the right things, and I wish you well…that is until you play the Falcons. I honestly am so tired of hearing about this although I understand why it is news. I am curious of Goodell’s decission here. It is almost like he is implementing this in order to discourage teams from signing him…or at least as a qb anyway. I wonder if this is a way of playing it both ways. “See I let Mike back in” meanwhile making the conditions so that teams will be encouraged to pass him over. He has paid this debt. I think now he sould be allowed to play but that being said I wouldn’t want him on my team if I were an owner.

Mac

July 27th, 2009
4:44 pm

The ex-NFL executive at the top of the UFL is a pretty low-rent guy. He’s a Pacman apologist for heaven’s sake.

mc

July 27th, 2009
4:45 pm

I will be surprised to see who breaks rank and hires him. whatever team takes him is gonna have a p.r. nightmare on their hands. I am just glad I can take my family to the games again. It was crazy at the dome when he was on our team.

Curious

July 27th, 2009
4:46 pm

It’s not up to the NFL to continue Vick’s punishment. He has paid a hefty price and deserves a second chance. Let him play. If he screws up and violates his federal probation, US Marshals will remove him from the stadium.