Now that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has reinstated former quarterback Michael Vick on a conditional basis, one question looms: Who steps up and takes a chance on the talented athlete who just finished serving a prison term?
That will certainly be determined in the coming days and weeks as training camps open and Vick looks to get back into the league so he can, by the stipulations of Goodell’s reinstatement, play in the final two preseason games with the opportunity for full-fledged reinstatement by the sixth week of the regular season.
But perhaps the most intriguing part of Vick’s reinstatement procedure in the aftermath of serving time on federal dog-fighting charges is that he will have someone to mentor him. That person is Tony Dungy, fresh out of the game after leaving his long-time post as coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
What is interesting to me is that Dungy, apparently willing to help Vick rehabilitate his image and his lifestyle, is being officially appointed by Goodell to help oversee that prospect.
When Goodell reinstated former Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones from his year-long suspension, there was no such mentor like Dungy on board in Jones’ life.
Sure, once Pacman was traded to Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tried to get Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders to fill that mentoring role. But given their own checkered pasts — especially Irvin’s — that probably didn’t make them the best choices to be the role models in warning Pacman not to partake of the evils that can accompany NFL life.
Not so with Dungy, whose nice-guy image is as squeaky clean and respected as anyone in the game. Whether one was a Colts fan or not, you couldn’t help but respect Dungy for the rock-solid Christian values and principles he carries himself with.
Given someone like Dungy adding a presence in Vick’s life, it should enhance the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback’s chances to improve the decision-making in his personal life. That is, if Vick will take Dungy’s advice to heart and apply it to his mission to return to the NFL. Obviously and ultimately, the decision of whether or not to heed whatever advice Dungy proffers hinges on Vick.
Perhaps Goodell himself said it best in this paragraph of his letter to Vick (who has been on suspension since August 2007), issued on Monday:
“After discussing possible mentors with you, I have asked Coach Tony Dungy to continue his work with you and to initiate a more formal mentoring relationship with you,” Goodell’s letter said. “Earlier today, we discussed in detail with Coach Dungy the precise nature of that relationship, and I share your view that Coach Dungy can help you in many ways as you rebuild your life and resume your career.”
Listed below are a synopsis of the stipulations laid out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding Michael Vick’s conditional reinstatement to the league, issued on Monday Vick, convicted on federal charges for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring had been on suspension since August 2007.
– Vick must continue to abide by the terms of his supervised release, which includes no criminal activity or use of alcohol or drugs.
– Vick, a free agent, is eligible to take part in training camp as soon as he signs with a team and can play in the final two preseason games. He will be eligible for full reinstatement during Week 6 of the regular season (Oct. 18-19).
– Vick must continue to abide by the living arrangements and financial and mentoring arrangements outlined in Vick’s meeting with Goodell as a part of Vick’s proposal for reinstatement.
– Vick will work for the Humane Society and other charitable endeavors as part of the process.
– Vick must continue to act in a way that is responsible, lawful and consistent with the values the NFL expects its players to represent.
As for whether his life can been rehabilitated or whether NFL teams will be interested in him, perhaps if he rebuilds it they will come.