May Practice Now and Play in Final Two Preseason Games; Tony Dungy to
Serve as Mentor; Commissioner to Decide on Full Reinstatement for Regular Season
by Week 6
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell notified Michael Vick today that he has been reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis and will be considered for full reinstatement and to play in regular-season games by Week 6 (October 18-19) based on the progress he makes in his transition plan, the league announced Monday.
Under the conditions of the reinstatement, Vick may participate without delay in preseason practices, workouts, meetings, and may play in his club's final two preseason games. Once the regular season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities other than games, subject to specific guidelines developed by the NFL Player Personnel Department that will be communicated to Vick and all clubs. Vick is currently an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any NFL club. Vick is eligible to be paid based on terms negotiated with a club.
In addition, Tony Dungy has agreed to continue his work with Michael Vick as an advisor and mentor. Commissioner Goodell will periodically evaluate Vick's progress under this transitional step approach and consider full reinstatement for play in regular-season games by Week 6.
In a letter to Vick today, commissioner Goodell wrote: "My decision at that time will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer, and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football, the absence of any further adverse involvement in law enforcement, and other concrete actions that you take that are consistent with your representations to me."
In addition, commissioner Goodell wrote: "This step-by-step approach is not meant to be a further punishment and should not be viewed as such. Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that you can successfully resume your career and your life. I believe that a transitional approach with a strong network of support will give you the best opportunity to manage effectively the various issues and pressures that you will inevitably face in the coming weeks and months and earn your full reinstatement."
Vick had been suspended indefinitely since August of 2007 after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges relating to his involvement in an interstate dog fighting enterprise. He was released from federal custody last Monday (July 20) but is still serving three years of probation.
In reviewing the matter, commissioner Goodell considered the court records; written submissions made by Vick, his representatives, and others; reports and recommendations of outside professionals; interviews with family and associates conducted by NFL Security personnel; numerous conversations that commissioner Goodell had with current and former players and others; and a hearing on July 22 at which the commissioner spoke in person with Vick, his representatives, and NFLPA officials.
Following are additional excerpts from commissioner 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."
•"In deciding whether to reinstate a player, I have stressed my belief that playing in the NFL is a privilege. It is not an entitlement. Everyone fortunate enough to be part of the league is held to a standard of conduct higher than that generally expected in society and is correspondingly accountable when that standard of conduct is not met. I have also endorsed an approach under which players who have been suspended for a significant amount of time, as you have been, may through a series of steps demonstrate that they have addressed their prior problems, that they can make good decisions, and that they conduct themselves in a way that is lawful, responsible, and consistent with NFL values."
•"As I emphasized to you when we met, as I have said in other cases, it is actions that count. 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."
•"Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you."
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