Anticipation of a Michael Vick Signing Gains Steam

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

There was renewed anticipation Monday in and around the NFL that recently reinstated quarterback Michael Vick might be inching closer to signing with a team.

After Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts coach who serves as an adviser to Vick, said during the television broadcast of Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game that he expected Vick to sign soon, several people familiar with the deliberations indicated Monday a handful of teams have been demonstrating behind-the-scenes interest.

"I don't know where he's gonna end up," one person familiar with the situation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the talks are at a sensitive stage. "I can't tell you which teams, but I know there's at least five."

As of Monday, it had been two weeks since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick, allowing him to sign and participate in practices. Vick is eligible to play in his team's final two preseason games, and Goodell is to rule by Week 6 on Vick's eligibility to play in regular season games.

The former standout quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons has missed the last two NFL seasons while serving his federal sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation in Virginia. His partial reinstatement by Goodell came a week after Vick was released from federal custody. Vick is a free agent after being released by the Falcons in the offseason.

No NFL team has acknowledged publicly it is attempting to sign Vick. But Dungy, now an NFL analyst for NBC, said during the network's broadcast of the Bills-Titans preseason game in Canton, Ohio, that Vick had been in contact with a handful of teams, and "he has several teams interested." Dungy said he'd spoken to a number of NFL coaches about Vick.

The former coach did not identify any of the interested teams but indicated he believed Vick could be signed within a week or so. Dungy said "something may happen here pretty shortly."

Dungy said he wasn't sure if Vick, who is set to be interviewed on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, is in football-playing shape. But a person familiar with the situation said Monday he'd been told Vick is in very good physical condition after training recently with speed coach Tom Shaw.

Vick's representatives have said little publicly about their deliberations with teams, and agent Joel Segal was not available to comment Monday. But even before Dungy's comments, some within the league had suspected Vick would end up back on an NFL roster at some point in the not-too-distant future.

"There's usually a market for good football players," New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said late last week at his team's training camp in Albany, N.Y. "That's really not for me to say. [But] he's a good football player, so I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with a team before the season's out."

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said at his club's camp in Bethlehem, Pa., last week that "with every player, there's risk" and he was waiting to see what happens when the Vick situation "plays itself out."

The upstart United Football League, which begins play this fall, has been mentioned as a possible fallback. But people close to Vick have said he is focused on a return to the NFL.

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