Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, now a free agent after release from federal prison, may be eligible for an NFL contract. Reports, citing unnamed sources, say NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell may force any club hiring Mr. Vick to make him sit out the first four games of the 2009 season.
Some football fans see this as unnecessary roughness, even “double jeapardy,” additional punishment for a man who has served his time and literally paid the price for his role in a dog-fighting ring. On the other hand, many of America’s 60 million dog owners will never forgive Mr. Vick for his role in a cruel and illegal blood sport.
But Commissioner Goodell’s decision may be more a matter of timing than punishment. Mr. Vick is scheduled to start a public service campaign for the Humane Society of the United States next week, and the NFL season starts September 10th. A final decision about putting Mr. Vick on the field could be postponed until October, enough time for his HSUS campaign to show if it has real bite. The NFL — and team owners — would be wise to see how the public reacts to the sports star’s anti-dogfighting activities before putting him back on the field.
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