With Prison Behind Him, What's Next For Michael Vick?
Michael Vick's prison sentence ended today with the removal of an ankle monitor used during his home confinement. He has served about 21 months in federal custody. So what happens now?
Vick has completed the confinement portion of his federal sentence
, with 18 months in prison and two more on home confinement. He will now remain on "supervised release" for three years
, a condition similar to being on probation, but imposed after a prison sentence. If Vick violates the conditions of his supervised release -- fails a drug test, commits another crime, or the like -- he could be sent back to prison for all or part of those three years.
Vick also pleaded guilty to state charges in Virginia related to the dogfighting operation and was given a suspended sentence of three years
. Like supervised release, a suspended sentence is usually conditioned on good behavior by the defendant. Once again, Vick will need to stay out of trouble to avoid facing possible imprisonment in Virginia.
So as long as he stays out of trouble, Vick should be done with being
jailed. But that of course is not the end of it. For good measure, Vick
is also bankrupt. Tarnished Twenty wrote last month on the rejection of his bankruptcy plan
by a federal judge. The judge appeared concerned that the plan was too
optimistic that Vick would return to the NFL and a multimillion-dollar
salary. Presumably, any new bankruptcy plan is going to have to address
the real likelihood of his earning large football dollars anytime soon.
Which brings us to Vick's current most important question: will he play pro football again?
The NFL may or may not come calling. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who
has been known during his tenure for cracking down on law-breaking
players, suspended Vick in the wake of the dogfighting charges, and has
not yet indicated what it will take for him to reinstate Vick.
And even if Vick gets the go-ahead from the league, he may find teams
wary of both his post-prison fitness and skill levels and of the
negative reaction he is sure to elicit from fans. As a result, he may
face the same sort of ostracism that Barry Bonds did after his
indictment on perjury charges related to his alleged use of
performance-enhancing drugs. An indicted Bonds found himself without
any offers at all to play in 2008. The combination of the drug
allegations, the potential distractions of the trial, and expected
negative fan reaction simply outweighed any interest teams may have had
in seeing if Bonds could still swing the bat. Vick may find similar
resistance from NFL clubs.
As a last resort, there's always the United Football League. The
newly-formed minor league aims to start play this October, and has said
that Vick might be welcome there
His presence in the UFL would certainly be a good test for the
any-publicity-is-good-publicity maxim. With a UFL stint, Vick might
prove himself as a player, priming for an NFL comeback. Or. like the
USFL, XFL, and Arena League before it, the UFL might well sink out of
sight, and take Vick's playing career with it.