Goodell: Vick will be eligible after two games

Jets defender Dwight Lowery intercepts a Michael Vick pass intended for Eagles rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin (rear). Vick will be eligible to play when the Eagles host Kansas City Sept. 27.
Jets defender Dwight Lowery intercepts a Michael Vick pass intended for Eagles rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin (rear). Vick will be eligible to play when the Eagles host Kansas City Sept. 27.
Posted: September 04, 2009

NEW YORK - In the end, Roger Goodell conceded, his reinstatement yesterday of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick into the NFL for the third week of the regular season was "a gut check." Vick had lied to Goodell once before, when he told the NFL commissioner that he had not been involved in a dogfighting operation when, in fact, he had.

Still, after meeting with Vick and Eagles coach Andy Reid for about an hour yesterday morning and then speaking with Vick's mentor, Tony Dungy, for 45 minutes, Goodell decided that a two-game suspension, rather than a six-game suspension, was adequate. Vick will be eligible to play when the Eagles host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 27 at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I said to Michael repeatedly, we're looking for a success story here," Goodell said. "We would like to see him be successful, and this is a transition to hopefully maximize the opportunity for him to be successful."

Vick was relieved.

"I'm going to try to do all the right things to make sure I stay on course," he said after he played in the Eagles' 38-27 exhibition loss to the Jets in East Rutherford, N.J. "I can't complain about anything. If it was a six-game suspension, if that was the ruling, I would have been happy and would have just said I would have worked on personal development and working on my game."

Eagles president Joe Banner said before the game that the team was "guessing" that the suspension would be between one and three games.

"Certainly, it was within the range of what we expected and we appreciate the commissioner's thoughtfulness," Banner said. "We think this is a good outcome and we look forward to having him. . . . I think Michael wants to play as soon as he can."

As of last night, the Eagles had not decided whether to put Vick on the 53-man roster, which must be set by 6 p.m. tomorrow, or to put him on an exempt list, which would give a roster spot to someone else but would prohibit Vick from practicing with the team.

"We'll wait until the dust settles tonight and we'll see where we're at, figure out the cuts," Banner said.

After Vick served 18 months of a federal prison term for his involvement in a dogfighting operation in Virginia, Goodell conditionally reinstated the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and said at the time full reinstatement might not happen until Week 6 of the regular season.

But after weekly conversations recently with Dungy, frequent contact with Vick and several updates from Reid, Goodell said yesterday that he decided it would be in Vick's best interest to reinstate him early in the season.

Goodell didn't want to reinstate him for Week 1, he said, because he didn't want to rush Vick into a return before he was ready. He also didn't want to penalize him by making him wait until nearly the midpoint of the season.

Goodell said that he witnessed what he determined to be true remorse from Vick over his role in the deaths of several dogs. He said that during one meeting with Vick and his representatives, one tried to make an excuse for why Vick didn't stop the dogfighting. According to Goodell, Vick interrupted his representative and took responsibility for his actions, said they were abhorrent and said he made a mistake.

"He took responsibility," Goodell said, "and I think when you're willing to take responsibility, admit a mistake and be accountable for it, that's a significant step in anyone's moving down the correct path."

Goodell said that Reid provided "useful feedback" about how Vick has interacted with his new teammates, whom he has been hanging out with, how he has responded to coaches, and how he has approached his job.

Still, Vick has "a fairly narrow margin" for error, the NFL's lead counsel Jeff Pash said.

In addition to the terms of his probation, Vick must fulfill several requirements for the league, including counseling and avoiding conduct that would "put him back before the commissioner," Pash said.

Goodell said he expects Vick will make some kind of public service appearance in Philadelphia in the next 30 days, although he said Vick will not appear in a public service announcement for the NFL.

While Goodell acknowledged that Vick "lied to me" more than two years ago when he said he wasn't involved in dogfighting, he said he did not think Vick would lie to him again.

"We have spent an awful lot of time talking and meeting," Goodell said. "We have given him mentors in Tony. He's got a great organization that he's with that has given him a lot of structure and resources, and a lot of the players have been very helpful to him, which he expressed this morning. He's demonstrating - which is the key thing to me - he's demonstrating his commitment, he's demonstrating he's going to use better judgment going forward, and I want to encourage that."

Contact staff writer Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064


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