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Michael Vick will be allowed to return to NFL

July 27, 2009 |  1:29 pm

Michael Vick

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who served a federal prison sentence of nearly two years for dogfighting, has been conditionally reinstated for NFL play by the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell.

It's unclear which, if any, football team will sign the disgraced star; his onetime team, the Atlanta Falcons, released him from his contract last month, and he remains a controversial figure.  One factor that may determine whether or not Vick is able to remake his image is his newly formed partnership with the Humane Society of the United States.  Vick will work with the group on its anti-dogfighting campaign and, according to Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, the football star says "he’s changed forever. And he said he wants to show the American public that he is committed to helping combat [dogfighting]. He asked for an opportunity to help. I want to give him that opportunity."

Vick's conditional reinstatement means that he can participate in preseason practices, workouts and meetings immediately, according to the Associated Press.  Once the NFL season begins, he'll be allowed to participate in all team events other than games.  Goodell said he'd consider offering Vick full reinstatement, which would include the right to play in games, beginning the sixth week of the season, in mid-October.

In a letter to Vick, Goodell wrote, "Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you."  Retired Coach Tony Dungy will work with Vick as a mentor of sorts, our colleague Sam Farmer reports.

Vick's prison sentence officially ended last week, although he was allowed to leave the U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, in May and served the remainder of his sentence at home in Newport, Va. 

RELATED:
The next step for pit bulls rescued in massive dogfighting raid: behavior evaluation, with an eye toward rehabilitation
Is Michael Vick in talks to be PETA's spokesman? The group says no
Supreme Court to hear case on dogfighting and freedom of speech

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Vick throwing a pass during a 2006 Atlanta Falcons-Dallas Cowboys game.  Credit: Rob Carr / Associated Press

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