Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vick: Avoids Suspension or Banishment from NFL; “I'm on thin ice"

This could have been the end for Michael Vick. Vick knew it and so did Tony Dungy.

Vick dodged a suspension or possible banishment from the NFL after an investigation by Commissioner Roger Goodell cleared him.

Let’s look back at what happened. Vick allegedly got in a confrontation outside a Virginia Beach nightclub following his 30th birthday party - a situation that developed before a shooting that left Quanis Phillips wounded. No charges were filed and law enforcement officials have said that Vick was not a target of an investigation.

Phillips you might remember was a co-conspirator in the dogfighting enterprise that sent Vick to jail. On top of that, Vick couldn’t leave the state of Pennsylvania. He was denied travel privileges by probation officials after missing a pair of schedule meetings.

After this latest incident, it was open for the NFL to suspend or banish Vick under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. The Policy is designed to help control off-field behavior by its players and preserve the league's public image. The Policy, introduced by Commissioner Goodell only applies to the player's personal lives and image in the public spotlight. The NFL conducts separate investigations for drug and alcohol abuse and performance enhancement.

Vick was potentially a repeat offender, which is expressly covered by the Policy and calls for swift action. As far as penalties, the NFL can suspend or even banish a player from the league: 
Discipline may take the form of fines, suspension, or banishment from the League and may include a probationary period and conditions that must be satisfied prior to or following reinstatement. The specifics of the disciplinary response will be based on the nature of the incident, the actual or threatened risk to the participant and others, any prior or additional misconduct (whether or not criminal charges were filed), and other relevant factors.
As we saw with Ben Roethlisberger, you don't need to be charged with anything for the NFL to invoke the Policy. Just problem behaviour unbecoming of an NFL player can do it.

After being cleared by the NFL, Vick released the following statement:
"I knew the facts. I knew I didn't do anything wrong." But he also added, "I know I'm on thin ice."
Vick also spoke with Tony Dungy, a conversation that Vick characterizes as anything but pleasant:
"… it wasn’t a pleasant conversation with Tony. … And it was hard for me to keep my composure because I knew what happened and I knew I never should have put myself in that situation. I probably never cried more in a 24-hour time span than I did (before) in my entire life because I knew that I hurt a lot of people.
"I'm definitely on my last chance," he said.
Lost in all this is whether Vick can still be an effective football player. By many accounts, he has shown up to camp in great shape, and with an unproven Kevin Kolb at QB for the Eagles, Vick could do good things this season.

First, though, he needs to stay clear of trouble - or, more importantly, anything that looks like it.

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