I have a simple question: what the hell was Roger Goodell thinking when he laid out the conditions for Michael Vick's reinstatement?
Let's go through the conditions again.
1. Vick can play football, but he first has to be signed by a team.
Ok, that makes sense. After all, how is he going to play if no team signs him? I'm not sure why this one has to be mentioned.
2. Vick can take part in preseason practices, training camps, workouts, etc., and can play in the final two preseason games.
Alright, that's a little weird. The preseason isn't very important, and I imagine any team that signs Vick has seen him in enough games to know his strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure why the bizarre two-game preseason suspension was tacked on, but whatever...it's a minor detail.
3. After the season begins, Vick can participate in all team activities—except games— until October 6th, when Goodell will consider his full reinstatement.
Ok, so for 25-percent of the season Michael Vick is allowed to show up at practice, throw the ball, go on the team bus...basically PRETEND to be on the team, but he can't play?
Isn't that the entire reason a team would sign a player? So they could, you know, play the game?
And what's this about considering full reinstatement? So it's not a guarantee? On October 6th, commissioner Goodell could theoretically extend Vick's suspension? Yeah, that's going to get teams to bite.
What Michael Vick did was bad, obviously. There's nobody I know that will say he didn't deserve to go to prison for his heavy involvement in a dogfighting ring. It's a crime, and he served his time for it.
That's the key phrase. He served his time.
This kind of reinstatement is nothing but a backhanded compliment from Roger Goodell.
The commissioner wants the best of both worlds here. He wants the good PR from giving a reformed criminal a second chance after re-paying his debt to society, but he doesn't want the bad PR of having an animal abuser as one of the main stories surrounding his sports league.
What he's gotten instead is the worst of both worlds.
Vick, along with Brett Favre, is still the biggest story of the coming NFL season. He's getting the big press, and what Goodell is getting isn't "reformed criminal gets a second chance," it's "reformed criminal reinstated with some petty conditions."
Meanwhile, the mere fact that this story is a big one destroys the good PR Goodell is seeking in not having an animal abuser be a big story about his league.
Goodell does not look like an "enforcer" here, as he has with some of his past decisions regarding player conduct. When he suspends players like Pacman Jones, it looks like he's getting tough on players with bad attitudes. Suspending Vick at this point makes it look as if his opinion is "the legal system isn't enough."
Mr. Goodell needs to make a decision. Either he needs to let Vick play football, or he needs to ban him from the league. This waffling and half-commitment to allowing Vick to redeem himself does nobody any good.