Disgraced gridiron star Michael Vick, who missed two National Football League (NFL) seasons while serving a jail sentence for running a dog-fighting ring, was reinstated by the league on Monday.
But the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback will likely not be allowed to take part in regular-season games until the sixth week of the season.
“I am also encouraged by your recognition that you cannot do this yourself, and that outside mentors and continued counseling will provide you with valuable support and assistance,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Vick.
The 29-year-old Vick’s reinstatement comes with conditions. He can’t play games right away, but he is able to sign with a new team and can practice and take part in pre-season games.
“After discussing possible mentors with you, I have asked (NFL) coach Tony Dungy to continue his work with you and to initiate a more formal mentoring relationship with you,” Goodell said.
“Earlier today, we discussed in detail with Coach Dungy the precise nature of that relationship, and I share your view that Coach Dungy can help you in many ways as you rebuild your life and resume your career,” Goodell said. “I will stay in close touch with Coach Dungy and his views will be part of my decision concerning whether and when you return to play.”
Vick, once the highest-paid player the league, also must provide Goodell with a detailed letter listing his financial affairs, accommodations, counseling and volunteer work with the animal Humane Society.
Vick was released from prison on May 20 and returned to his home in Virginia until his sentence ended last Monday.
Vick said he was looking forward to taking advantage of his second chance in life.
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The NFL suspended Vick indefinitely after he pled guilty in August 2007.
“In deciding whether to reinstate a player, I have stressed my belief that playing in the NFL is a privilege,” Goodell added in the letter. “It is not an entitlement. Everyone fortunate enough to be part of the league is held to a standard of conduct higher than that generally expected in society and is correspondingly accountable when that standard of conduct is not met.”