LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
Michael Vick is getting a second chance to play pro football. After serving a year and a half sentence for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, the former star quarterback was reinstated yesterday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The reinstatement comes with conditions and hinges on a basic question: does any NFL team out there want to sign Michael Vick. Heres NPRs Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN: Assuming the answer is yes - and well discuss that more in a bit - these are the conditions of Michael Vicks reinstatement. He can start practicing and going to team meetings immediately. He can play in his new clubs final two preseason games. And Commissioner Goodell will decide by week six of the regular season, at the latest, whether Vick should be fully reinstated, meaning he can play in the regular season.
The delay shouldnt be viewed as punishment, Goodell said, but rather an attempt to give Vick time to prove he can become re-acclimated to the NFL with the right support system around him.
Commissioner ROGER GOODELL (National Football League): I do believe that this transitional approach that weve outlined for Michael is the best thing for him. Whether he makes it on the field for the NFL is something that will be determined on the field, but he has some big decisions off the field to make in the way he conducts himself.
GOLDMAN: Vick will continue working with the respected former NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whom Goodell has asked to serve as Vicks primary mentor. Goodell suspended Vick in August 2007 after the former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback admitted financing illegal dog fights and helping kill dogs. Goodell said he would consider reinstating Vick if Vick showed remorse. Yesterday, Goodell said Vick did in recent one-on-one meetings.
Commissioner GOODELL: The conduct that Michael engaged in was not only horrific but it was cruel. We all certainly recognize that. And I believe after meeting with Michael that he recognizes that also.
GOLDMAN: And so back to our initial $64,000 question: will an NFL team take a change and sign Michael Vick. Sports marketing expert Mark Ganis thinks the answer is, in fact, closer to $64,000 than Vicks one-time whopper of a contract - $130 million over 10 years.
Mr. MARK GANIS (Sports Corp Limited): I wouldnt be surprised if he doesnt get signed immediately. I would expect that he will get signed if he demonstrates in workouts that he has got his strength, his quickness, his arm strength, things of that nature. But this will be a low financial risk deal. Hes going to have to prove himself again.
GOLDMAN: Several teams, including the New York Giants and Jets have said theyre not interested. But according to ESPN NFL insider John Clayton, Vicks agents phone has been ringing. Mark Ganis, president of Sports Corp limited, says the team that signs Vick has to understand that the player once touted as the future of the NFL will play a much smaller role.
Mr. GANIS: No matter how good he is on the field, if he is able to return to his former glory, he can no longer be the face of any franchise in the NFL or that team risks being ostracized by the public and the media.
GOLDMAN: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement yesterday saying in part, He has served his reduced sentence, but no child should ever look up to Vick as a role model. And for the sake of all the young football fans and all the dogs he electrocuted, drowned, slammed to the ground and hanged, we are going to watch him like a hawk. There were no protests yesterday, but a PETA official said if Vick shows any lack of remorse or if hes flippant about what happened the organization won't hesitate to organize against his new team.
Vick said yesterday in a statement, the last two years have given me time to reevaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.
WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.
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