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Michael Vick to learn about full reinstatement from NFL commissioner today

Roger Goodell plans to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback today to tell him when he'll be fully reinstated, The Times has learned. Vick could be ready to go for Sept. 13 opening game.

September 04, 2009|Sam Farmer

NEW YORK — It's longer than a New York minute, but Michael Vick won't be waiting on the sideline for long.

After two seasons away from football -- much of the time spent in prison for running a dogfighting ring -- the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has been cleared to return in Week 3 of the regular season.

"We're looking for a success story here," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who announced his decision Thursday in a question-and-answer session with national football writers. "We would like to see him be successful, and this is a transition to hopefully maximize the opportunity for him to be successful."

Hours earlier, across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Goodell met for about 45 minutes with Vick and Eagles Coach Andy Reid at the team's hotel, apprising them of the plan. The Eagles were in town to play an exhibition finale against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

Vick played extensively in that game, showing he's both rested and rusted. He ran for a two-yard touchdown early in the game -- drawing a smattering of boos -- but later had several sloppy plays, among them a deep pass that was intercepted, a sack for a 22-yard loss, and a fumble.

He will be eligible to return Sept. 27 for Philadelphia's home game against Kansas City. Vick, who backs up starter Donovan McNabb, will miss the Eagles' opener on the road at Carolina and their home opener against New Orleans.

Calling the reinstatement a "gut check," Goodell acknowledged he cannot know for sure whether Vick is being truthful about his willingness to change his life. When the commissioner first questioned him about dogfighting allegations, in spring 2007, Vick denied any involvement.

"He clearly lied to me; I accept that," Goodell said. "But I guess we had a very direct conversation about that and he recognizes that he has to earn that opportunity back again. That's not going to be by telling me anything, it's by demonstrating, and he repeated that again this morning."

Goodell said he has spoken at least once a week to Vick and/or former NFL coach Tony Dungy, now serving as the player's mentor. The commissioner said he spoke to Dungy and Reid about Vick's being spotted by a reporter while having a drink in a hotel restaurant after his first practice with the Eagles.

Although Goodell said that was not a violation of Vick's probation or reinstatement, "it highlights the tremendous microscope this young man is under."

"He understands he has very little margin for error," Goodell said. "While it was not a violation, people are watching closely, and they're going to make judgments on what he does. I think it served as a useful lesson for him in that sense."

Goodell addressed several other NFL-related issues. Among them:

* On the height of the Dallas Cowboys' video board, which could be in the line of fire on high punts: "The mistake here was that we didn't have a policy to deal with if it did hit the [board]. We don't think having a guideline is a mistake. We knew there was a possibility that [a punt] could hit a scoreboard at 85 feet. We knew that. The mistake was we didn't have something to deal with in a competitive situation."

* On the likelihood of addressing a 17- or 18-game regular season with players with no labor deal in sight: "I don't think so. Not likely."

* On negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union: "We have a lot to do and a lot to address, and the progress to date is minimal."

* On the possibility of staging the 50th Super Bowl in 2016 in Los Angeles, host city of the first one: "We've had some discussion internally about it with committees. But we're not any closer to the reality of it, no."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesFarmer

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Selected comments from our online message board and poll on the Michael Vick situation:

From JC: "He served his time. Animals, cows, pigs, sheep are killed every day using heinous methods. Animals are not human beings."

Rose Carpenter: "I personally think he should never go back to be allowed to play football. He is only sorry because he was caught."

Valk: "If he had not been caught, he would still be participating in the savagery of pit bull fighting. He is a convicted felon and should be banned from the NFL for life."

Grant James: "Interesting how we are so quick to say other folks shouldn't be given second chances."

Diane P.: "Every time he takes the field the crowd should react with 'boos.' There is no place in NFL for a person that tortures innocent animals. Goodell? What are you thinking about, money?"

Dawn: "No football in this household as long as that creep is anywhere near a field. All NFL sponsors are getting same message from my whole family."

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