Don’t look for a defense of Vick and his dogfighting. I offer none here. But the man did spend 18 months behind bars, too much time for a crime that doesn’t rank with some of the horrid misdeeds street thugs exact on their fellow man.
Once he walked out of prison, Vick deserved the right to resume his life. He’s made all the public apologies, and he’s agreed to become the public face for combating the bloody sport. Time among felons helped Vick realize he had done wrong, and he’s owned up to his wrongdoing the way somebody who needed to grow up should.
He faced punishment there, as all players who run afoul of the law face in the league these days. The judge of what that punishment should be was Roger Goodell, a commissioner who brooks no foolishness. He held the authority to let Vick back onto the field.
Goodell had vowed to make a decision before Week 6. He didn’t take that long to decide, though: He announced Thursday that Vick, who signed with the Eagles a few weeks ago, could return to the field for Week 3.
What that means for NFL fans is they will soon see one of the most electric players back on the field. What that means for the Eagles, who already have a star quarterback in Donovan McNabb, isn’t easy to discern. Vick, who’s been trying to shake off two-plus years of rust, isn’t in Philadelphia to send McNabb to the bench, but Vick isn’t there to be a career backup either.
His role will be decided soon enough. Coach Andy Reid holds that decision. He has options for a player with Vick’s athletic gifts. The "wildcat" formation comes to mind, and Vick might be the best player on the planet to run it.
Reid has awhile to decide, though not as much time as those people who detest Vick might like. They need to move on; they need to forgive, even if they (and anybody else) don’t forget.
For Vick, his criminal past in tow, is coming back to the NFL. He should be allowed to return, regardless of whether his return brings cheers, boos or boycotts.