Over the last two months, I’ve been in contact with Michael Vick. My role has been only to assist him, to answer questions and to give my advice to a young man who is trying to get his life back on track. I said I really didn’t want to make too many public comments until the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, made a ruling on his reinstatement. Commissioner Goodell made that ruling Monday, conditionally reinstating Michael.
I believe it was the right call and I am glad that Michael is going to get a chance to re-start his football career. But, more than that, I’m happy with the position Michael has taken. I’ve met with him twice and spoken with him on the phone a few other times and I believe he is really focused on putting his life back together. Sure, he would love to play football in the NFL again, but I think he has other priorities. He has missed his family and looks to get those relationships going again, especially with his three children. I think he realizes not only how important they are to him, but also how important he is to their development. He has missed 18 months of that development and he wants his whole family together again. He also would like to have a positive impact on young people’s lives and he realizes that his dog-fighting conviction has been a huge negative in that respect. I know he wants to turn that around and help kids understand the importance of good decision-making.
So I applaud the Commissioner for reinstating him and for doing it with some conditions. When I was coaching and came across a player who had had troubles before coming to our team, I would always lay out what was expected and let that player know that he wasn’t going to be treated like everyone else. He wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt, and his behavior would have to be above reproach. That’s the way he could prove to me that he had changed and that he understood what we were looking for.
I also think Commissioner Goodell is doing everything he can to help Michael succeed in life, as well as in the NFL. I have agreed to be part of that team that will try to help him. I’m going to be speaking and meeting with Michael on a regular basis. I had agreed with Michael to do this even before talking with the NFL office, and my involvement will be to help Michael in any way I can. I don’t imagine it will be different than what I’ve done with all the players I’ve coached. I’ve stayed in touch with many of the guys, even after they have left our team, and have always tried to be there if they needed me. In Michael’s case, I am not working for the NFL, but just doing what I can as a concerned friend.
My hope is that Michael continues on the course that he’s been on the last couple of months. I’m not sure what football is going to hold for him; that will be discussed at length in the sports pages over the next few weeks. I believe in second chances for people who admit their mistakes and are committed to changing. I think Michael deserves the chance to show people he has changed and learned from past mistakes, but my true hope is that he will make sound decisions about his future and, at the same time, let people know more about the person that I’ve come to know recently. I know the public will be skeptical, but I think, over time, people will find there’s a different side to him than what they’ve seen so far. And that’s really my goal, to help him let people see the other side of Michael Vick.