Quarterback Michael Vick Reinstated, Under Certain Conditions

"What Michael did was cruel and horrific. We recognize that, and I think Michael recognizes that," Commissioner Roger Goodell said following his decision to reinstate Vick. The quarterback has not played since the 2006 season. (By Mike Stobe -- Getty Images)
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The NFL announced a conditional reinstatement of Michael Vick on Monday, clearing the quarterback to sign with any interested team and participate in training camp. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would decide by the sixth week of the season in mid-October whether to reinstate Vick fully and allow him to participate in regular season games.

The announcement came a week after Vick was released from federal custody. He has missed the last two NFL seasons while serving his federal sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation in Virginia, and he had been on indefinite suspension from the league.

"The intent here was to do the right thing in a young man's life and for the game of football in the NFL," Goodell said during a news conference in New York. "That's what I tried to do here."

Vick, 29, is a free agent after being released during the offseason by his former team, the Atlanta Falcons. It's not clear which NFL teams, if any, are interested in signing him. There were indications Monday evening that Vick's representatives were in contact with several teams.

If a club does sign him, he would be eligible to participate in practices, meetings, workouts and all other team-related activities immediately, and he would be permitted to play in the team's final two preseason games, the league announced.

Goodell said in a conference call with reporters that he could consider Vick's possible reinstatement before the season's sixth week. Vick is eligible to be paid by any team that signs him for any regular season games he misses before a final decision about full reinstatement, according to a league official.

It's unlikely, however, any team that signs Vick would agree to pay him for missed games. According to the NFL, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy agreed to work with Vick as an adviser.

Dungy is among those who lobbied publicly in recent weeks for Vick's reinstatement, saying he deserved another chance in the NFL. Dungy also visited Vick in prison.

Vick released a written statement through his agent, Joel Segal, in which he expressed gratitude to Goodell and Dungy, and said, "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given.

"As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to re-evaluate 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. Again, I want to thank the commissioner for the chance to return to the game I love and the opportunity to become an example of positive change."

Vick remains on probation. He served the final stages of his federal sentence under house arrest in Hampton, Va., after being imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kan.

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said Vick was pleased to be given the chance to sign with a team.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company