Michael Vick was suspended by the NFL on Aug. 24, 2007 and remains suspended to this day. That’s 23 months (plus three days) of a suspension that ran almost concurrent to a 20-month jail sentence (reduced from 23 months for good behavior). That is, in a word, enough.
So far as we know, Michael Vick has broken no law since he reported to Leavenworth. So far as we know, he hasn’t further violated the NFL’s code of conduct. Currently speculation holds that commissioner Roger Goodell wants to clear Vick to sign with a team and participate in training camp — but then suspend him for the first four games of the regular season. I’m not a lawyer (though I was accepted to law school 32 years ago), but that seems, to use a legalistic term …
It’s essentially saying, “We know you’ve paid your debt to society, but we’re afraid certain parts of society [read: PETA] will look ill upon us if we let you play on Opening Day. So we’ll tack on another month. Doesn’t matter if you’re as pure as Pat Boone from here on out. We’re docking you four games just to cover our own, er, assets.”
This isn’t to suggest Vick should be given carte blanche the rest of his NFL days. He has heaped dishonor on the league, and if he messes up again he should be treated as a repeat offender. But the league cannot assume such a mess-up will be forthcoming, nor should it rescind, then extend, his suspension just for cosmetic purposes.
If Goodell wants to bar him from training camp and not clear him to play until, say, Sept. 15, that course would at least have continuity working for it. But to say, “You can play in the exhibitions but not in the first four games that count” … well, that’s not a penalty based on logic. That’s whim. That’s caprice. That’s folly.
Michael Vick did some bad things, yes. He also admitted his crimes and served his sentence. For the one and only time in my life, I agree with Terrell Owens. The overstated receiver told reporters at Bills camp Vick deserves immediate reinstatement.
Being Terrell Owens, he also overplayed his hand, telling George Smith of ESPN “the commissioner needs to go sit in jail for 23 months.” (At last check, Goodell has pleaded guilty to nothing except being NFL commish.) And in that conversation with reporters, Owens loosed an unfortunate comparison: Suspending Vick further, he said, was “almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground.”
Note to T.O.: Regarding Michael Vick, hold all animal analogies … well, forever.