On Monday, July 20, Vick was released from federal custody when the feds took off the electronic monitor he has been wearing the past two months after his 23-month vacation at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. Vick now has the freedom to pursue his career in the NFL. And to play again, he must go through Goodell, who has said in the past that he would like to sit down and review Vick’s suspension after his federal sentence has been completed.
Right now it is unclear when a meeting between the two will be set up, but if Vick has any kind of chance to play this next season, he had better start working on Goodell as soon as possible. Goodell said in the past that in order to reinstate Vick back into the NFL, he is going to have to show remorse and show that he is prepared to live a different life. Vick had better show more remorse than he did to U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson back in 2007.
According to The New York Times, Vick apologized in court but the judge denied him an “acceptance of responsibility” credit that could have reduced his sentence. Apparently the judge didn’t believe Vick and handed him a 23-month sentence, which was more than any of Vick’s three codefendants got.
No matter how remorseful Vick makes himself out to be, Goodell is going to have an immense amount of pressure put on his shoulders to make the “right” decision.
Just what is the right decision with the convicted dogfighting felon? I don’t know at all. I had previously stated in other columns that Vick has served his time under the country’s judicial system, his debt is paid and he now has a right to work, just like anyone else who has served time. You can’t just take away their right to work, right?
Well, after listening to hours upon hours of sports talk radio and the like, I have come to realize that it really isn’t that simple. There are white collar criminals (money laundering, tax evasion, etc.) who, once they serve their time for whatever they did, most likely will not be able to get any kind of job requiring finances or bookkeeping. A convicted pedophile certainly doesn’t have the right to get a job at a preschool after his sentence has been served. Someone who killed another person while driving drunk probably won’t be working as a driver for UPS anytime soon.
So how does this apply to a man who was a hero for young people and a man looked up upon my athletes of all ages, and was found guilty of funding a huge dogfighting ring? Does Vick have the right to a job in the public spotlight, particularly one as a team leader? I don’t know. Goodell is going to have to answer that question.
And perhaps Goodell will just take the business approach to Vick. Will he make the league money? If he will, what is the best way to get Vick back on the field, and what market or team will he fit best in?
In that same sense, maybe Vick is just a liability? With Vick on the field, sponsors could be lost. Maybe Budweiser or even Nike will take away their advertising dollars from the world’s most popular sport? (Knowing Nike’s morals, I don’t suspect they will.) This is an element Goodell is going to have to consider. Animal rights activists will not be boycotting the NFL (maybe they will) but they will be boycotting the products that support the NFL and Vick. Is that what an advertiser like Budweiser would want? To have animal rights activists pissed at them with all their beautiful Clydesdales? To suggest that Budweiser supports dogfighting? Of course, this is just one example but believe me, the animal rights people will be waging a battle here in the next couple of months.
I almost feel bad for Goodell here. Of course Vick is going to put on a show of being very sorry and very remorseful. Maybe he really is. Or maybe it is just an act, and he really doesn’t care. Things are going to be very tough for the commissioner. No matter what decision he makes on Vick, he will be scrutinized. That is one thing he can count on.
But hey, maybe he should just look at the bright side of things. At least he doesn’t have a meth-head racecar driver chasing away sponsors and making wrongful death accusations. We can save that one for next week.