Monday, July 27, 2009

Michael Vick Conditionally Reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell



Suspended NFL Quarterback Michael Vick has been conditionally reinstated to play professional football today by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell will make a decision on Vick's unconditional reinstatement by Week 6 of the regular season, which means that the quarterback could possible see the field as soon as Week 1 although that scenario is highly unlikely according to ESPN.com, NFL.com, and the Associated Press.

According to the NFL news blog Vick, who's an unrestricted free agent, can now participate in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and may play in the final two preseason games. During the regular season, Vick can participate in all team activities other than games. Vick also will be periodically evaluated by Goodell during his suspension and will be mentored by former Colts coach Tony Dungy.

The NFL news blog also contained portions of Commissioner Roger Goodell's letter to Vick.

"Among the conditions of this reinstatement, you are required to abide by the terms of the supervised release that were imposed on you by the court, which include not committing any further crime, limits on who you may associate with, prohibitions regarding drug and alcohol use, possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, and forbidding you to own, possess or be involved with the sale of any dog."

"Apart from these conditions, you have submitted to me a written plan concerning your proposed living arrangements, how you will manage your financial affairs, counseling and mentoring plans, and your proposed work with the Humane Society and other groups. You have committed to me that you intend to abide by this plan, and as I said when we met, you are accountable for doing so."

"I am also encouraged by your recognition that you cannot do this yourself, and that outside mentors and continued counseling will provide you with valuable support and assistance. 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. 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. I will stay in close touch with Coach Dungy and his views will be part of my decision concerning whether and when you return to play. I encourage you and Coach Dungy to select other mentors and advisors who can help in other phases of your life."


There are mixed reports related to Vick's reaction to Commissioner Goodell's decision. ESPN's Sal Paoaltonio reported that, privately, Vick was less than satisfied with Goodell's decision to hold his unconditional reinstatement up until Week 6 at the latest and that he plans to appeal the suspension as early as Week 1. However, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Vick's advisors are elated by Goodell's decision. Ofcourse, the suspension and subsequent restrictions rendered by commissioner Goodell and Vick's course of action retroactive to the suspension are all contingent upon a NFL team showing interest in signing the 29 year old Pro Bowl Quarterback.

It is clear that, due to the nature of Michael Vick's offense, his less than truthful statements to Goodell about his knowledge of and involvement with Bad Newz Kennels during their first face-to-face meeting over 2 years ago, and the implementation of a strict Zero Tolerance player personal conduct policy by the commissioner, the severity of Vick's conditional reinstatement is intended to serve as both a deterrent to similar conduct in the future by NFL employees and a benchmark for punishment of similar offenses without regard for punishments that may or may not have been rendered by the justice system.

It will be interesting to see how Commissioner Goodell and the NFL Player's Union address the issues surrounding free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress's current legal troubles. On Friday, November 28, 2008, Burress suffered an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right thigh in the New York City nightclub LQ. The injury was not life-threatening and he was released from an area hospital the next afternoon. The following Monday, Burress turned himself in to police to face charges of criminal possession of a handgun. According to his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, Burress will plead not guilty. It was later discovered that the NYPD found out about the incident only after seeing it on television and were not called by New York-Presbyterian Hospital as required by law. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the hospital actions an "outrage" and stated that they are a "chargeable offense". Bloomberg also urged that Burress be prosecuted to the fullest extent, saying that any punishment short of the minimum 3½ years for unlawful carrying of a handgun would be "a mockery of the law."

Burress had an expired concealed carry (CCW) license from Florida, but no New York license. Burress reported to Giants Stadium as per team policy for injured but active players, and was told he would be suspended without pay for the remaining four games of the 2008 regular season for conduct detrimental to the team. In addition, the Giants placed Burress on their reserve/non-football injury list, meaning he was ineligible to return for the playoffs. Burress was also scheduled to receive $1 million from his signing bonus on December 10, 2008, but the status of that payment is unclear. The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, saying the team violated the collective bargaining agreement and challenging the suspension and fine received by Burress.

The Chicago Bears were one team rumored to be interested in signing Burress. Jerry Angelo, the general manager of the Bears, has since removed the team from consideration, owing partly to a lack of resolution to Burress's legal troubles until at least September.

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