NFL Reinstates Michael Vick on Conditional Basis

CNN, July 27, 2009

Nearly two years after he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in Virginia, Michael Vick was reinstated to the National Football League on a conditional basis, according to an NFL statement Monday.

Vick “will be considered for full reinstatement and to play in regular-season games by Week 6 based on the progress he makes in his transition plan,” the statement said. Week 6 of the NFL season is in October.

Vick may participate in practices, workouts and meetings and may play in his club’s final two preseason games under the conditions of his reinstatement, the league said.

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Vick, 29, was freed from federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 20 and returned to his home to serve the last two months of his 23-month sentence in home confinement.

Vick also said in his statement that he is re-evaluating his life after the “terrible mistakes” he made.

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The former Atlanta Falcons player is a free agent and has not been signed by any team. Goodell said he was not involved in any negotiations between Vick and a team.

Dungy has agreed to continue working with Vick as an adviser and mentor, the NFL statement said.

Goodell said Vick underwent tests after requests from animal rights groups, including a psychiatric evaluation.

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In a letter to Vick, Goodell wrote that his decision regarding full reinstatement “will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football” as well as factors such as the absence of any further law enforcement issues.

“This step-by-step approach is not meant to be a further punishment and should not be viewed as such,” Goodell wrote, according to the NFL. “Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that you can successfully resume your career and your life. I believe that a transitional approach with a strong network of support will give you the best opportunity to manage effectively the various issues and pressures that you will inevitably face in the coming weeks and months and earn your full reinstatement.”

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In reviewing Vick’s status, Goodell considered court records, submissions from Vick and others, reports from outside professionals and conversations with current and former players, among other items.

At a hearing July 22, Goodell spoke to Vick along with his representatives and others, including NFL Players’ Association officials.

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Vick has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At a hearing in that case, he told the judge that he earned 12 cents an hour as an overnight janitor while in prison.

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The Humane Society of the United States has said Vick has offered to work with the organization on anti-dogfighting campaigns.

Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president, has said Vick was to work on programs aimed at preventing youths from getting involved in dogfighting and on programs to assist young people who have been involved.

In testimony before the bankruptcy judge, Vick acknowledged committing a “heinous” act and said he should have acted more maturely.

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