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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Will Michael Vick Return to the NFL?

I have a new column on this topic. Here's an excerpt.

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What will Goodell do? He appears poised to reinstate Vick for the 2009 season, though probably with onerous strings attached, such as Vick facing permanent expulsion should he get into any trouble. Without expressly saying so, Goodell has laid out a roadmap for Vick's reinstatement. He has conditioned reinstatement upon Vick showing genuine remorsefulness. Goodell also expects Vick to demonstrate that he has learned from his mistakes and that he can be a positive influence going forward.

For his part, Vick has acknowledged that he committed "heinous" acts, has expressed sorrow for them and offered a desire to become a better person for himself and others. In other words, Vick and his advisers seem aware of the commissioner's expectations and are trying to meet them.

In addition, and from a purely economic standpoint, the NFL may regard Vick's return as beneficial to its bottom line. Still only 28 and just three years removed from the Pro Bowl, Vick likely remains a dynamic player. He may also remain marketable, perhaps very marketable. After-all, in spite of his embarrassing lapses in judgment, including those with legal consequences (e.g., the "Ron Mexico"/genital herpes matter), Vick has a track record for attracting consumers' dollars.

Consider the tens of millions of dollars Vick earned from endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and other companies -- companies that saw Vick misbehave and then listened to social critics lambast him, and yet they still deemed Vick to be a good investment. Or consider that Vick's #7 Falcons jersey was consistently among the top-selling NFL jerseys during his heyday. Although Vick's prison time and dog abuse crimes have unquestionably and, in some ways, irreversibly tarnished his reputation, the jury is still out as to whether consumers would again find it worthwhile to invest dollars in him.

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To read the rest, click here. Also, I'll be interviewed on CNN tomorrow morning on the network's "American Morning" program (its broadcast between 6 and 9 a.m.) to discuss Vick's future. The interview may also air later in the day on CNN's other programs and Headline News. Hope you can watch.


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