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NFL return in Vick’s future?

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Associated Press
July 21, 2009
— The electronic monitor came off Michael Vick’s ankle and made him a free man Monday.

Now he just has to get on Roger Goodell’s calendar and convince both the NFL commissioner and team owners he’s reformed and ready to play.


It’ll be no small task.


Vick’s release after serving 23 months on a dogfighting conviction—the last 60 days in home confinement—came a week before NFL training camps open for veterans.


“It is going to take a lot of hard work” for Vick to make it back, said New York Jets veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.


“He is a talented player, so someone will give him a shot,” Cotchery added. “He just has to take advantage of it.”


The last NFL game Vick played was on Dec. 31, 2006, months before he was indicted on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges in July 2007. At 29 years old, Vick could play several more years in the league.


That begins with a face-to-face meeting with Goodell, who has said he wants to see remorse and evidence of change from the player he suspended indefinitely. The last time they met, about two years ago, Vick denied his dogfighting involvement. Goodell has repeatedly said he would only meet with Vick after he completed his prison sentence, but it’s unclear when that meeting will take place.


“The review of his status is ongoing, but we are providing no other details at this time,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.


After Goodell comes the teams. The owners of the Jets and the New York Giants said Monday that they have no interest in signing Vick. Giants owner John Mara and Jets owner Woody Johnson were emphatic in saying their teams’ quarterback positions were filled.


“On a lot of levels, no,” Mara said when asked if the Giants had any interest in Vick.


Mara added there wasn’t even any discussion or debate in the front office about Vick.


Despite the competition to replace Brett Favre, Johnson said the Jets also weren’t interested.


“We’ve got Kellen Clemens and now we have this young Mark Sanchez, and I think we are good on quarterbacks,” Johnson said, adding that the Jets also didn’t see Vick as an option.


Earlier Monday, two men in a car with a U.S. Probation Services folder on the dashboard arrived at Vick’s home and removed the electronic monitor he wore while on home confinement. Vick’s attorney, Lawrence Woodward, arrived while the men were inside. He came out a few minutes later and told The Associated Press that Vick had been released from federal custody as scheduled.


Woodward then drove Vick to the federal courthouse in Norfolk, where they met with probation officials and completed paperwork. They declined to answer reporters’ questions when they came out after about an hour and 45 minutes.


A man in a passing car shouted, “We’ve got your back, Mike!” Vick silently raised his right fist in the air.


Brenda Boddie, Vick’s mother, wore a broad smile in the morning after the probation officials removed the monitor. She said later that she is excited he’s free again. “He’s doing fine,” she told The Associated Press Monday afternoon, but added she wasn’t sure what his next step would be.


Vick admitted bankrolling the “Bad Newz Kennels” dogfighting enterprise on his property in rural southeastern Virginia and participating in killing dogs that performed poorly in test fights.


“It is this barbarism that sets the crime apart,” said Ed Sayres, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “This was not a one-time transgression or crime of passion—this was a multiyear pattern of behavior that demonstrates a startling lack of moral character and judgment.”


U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in 2007 denied Vick an “acceptance of responsibility” credit that could have reduced his sentence. He sentenced Vick to 23 months—more than any of his three co-defendants. Vick served the first 18 months at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., and two months on home confinement.


While on home confinement, Vick—once the NFL’s highest-paid player—worked a $10-an-hour construction job for a few weeks. He switched jobs last month, assisting in children’s health and fitness programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula.


Vick will remain on probation for three years. He also is under a three-year suspended sentence for a state dogfighting conviction.


The case destroyed Vick’s finances, forcing him into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2008. A hearing on his plan to repay creditors is scheduled for July 31.



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