Commentary

Commissioner makes the correct call

Originally Published: July 27, 2009
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Michael Vick needed a chance to be in a training camp in August more than the opportunity to be on a football field in September, which makes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's conditional reinstatement a good decision.

Vick has missed two years of football because of his involvement in a dogfighting ring, so he's not in football shape physically or mentally. He also needs a chance to test his skills, and now he can do that in the final two preseason games. While some may consider it too much for Vick to have to sit out until Week 6 after serving two years in prison, the quarterback is happy about the results. And conceivably, the commissioner could even reinstate Vick in time for Week 1.

"Michael is thankful to Commissioner Goodell for issuing his reinstatement,"' said Vick's agent, Joel Segal. "He is excited for the opportunity. He has a lot to prove and looks forward to resuming his career in the NFL."

Of course, no one knows if an NFL team will bring him to camp, but there does seem to be some interest. Vick is getting some calls, according to a source. Will that result in a deal? We'll see. At least now he has the opportunity to get back, which is the most important thing. To his credit, Goodell moved quickly. He met with Vick on Wednesday and made a decision before most NFL teams opened camps, giving everyone a breathing period to debate whether to sign him. The decision is well thought out.

Keep in mind that Vick wouldn't be anything more than a third-string quarterback during the first five weeks of the season anyway. That isn't underestimating his immense skills. It's just the reality that he has missed so much time. Vick must relearn NFL offenses, start to get his timing down with receivers and get into football shape. Plus, he also must face the anxiety and pressure of possible protests as well as the glare of the league spotlight.

If an NFL team signs him, Vick would have five weeks during the regular season to reflect on his life. Most importantly, Vick will have a support system. Tony Dungy, the former coach of the Bucs and Colts, will be his adviser and mentor. Dungy, the perfect choice for that job, was instrumental in guiding Goodell to his decision to reinstate Vick.

It's also important that the league, and not just the team that might sign him, is taking control of his supervision. Vick has done everything the commissioner has asked of late. He gave him a written plan for his living and financial arrangements and showed he is willing to be counseled and monitored by the league. Vick obviously showed the remorse Goodell was seeking. The commissioner wanted to see if the incarceration changed Vick as a person. Apparently, Goodell is convinced it has.

"As I emphasized to you when we met, as I have said in other cases, it is actions that count," Goodell wrote in his reinstatement decision to Vick. "I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around and that you intend to be a positive role model for others. I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands."

The fallback position for Vick is the United Football League, which begins in October and could pay the quarterback $1.5 million a season. That's not in Vick's plan right now. He wants to return to the NFL. Monday was his first step, and it was a big one.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer