Michael Vick is out of jail.
Now, the maneuvering begins.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is playing this very cozy. He said he is looking for Vick to show proper remorse before reinstating him, all of which is fine. But what nobody is really saying out loud, but which everybody knows in their heart, is that no NFL team is going to touch Vick -- even after serving his debt to society in this despicable dog-fighting business -- unless there is some reasonable certainty that the resulting publicity firestorm will blow over fairly quickly. That is, no one will want to deal with PETA picketing their games and their practice facilities and their sponsors for months on end.
This is all about PETA right now, and PETA does not appear to be placated. There is talk that Vick and the Humane Society might be getting into bed together, but PETA? Not yet.
In January, PETA said that it could not support Vick's return unless he underwent psychiatric testing, including a brain scan, to determine if he is likely to get involved in animal cruelty again. This is a bit, uh, intrusive -- and it goes against the whole paid-his-debt ethos to which most people in this country subscribe -- but PETA is driving the bus here. Don't kid yourself on that one.
Anyway, according to a published report, here is the latest PETA statement:
In January, after a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Vick's dogfighting activities revealed that Vick enjoyed placing family pets in the ring with fighting pit bulls, PETA called on NFL Commissioner Goodell to require that Vick undergo a full psychological evaluation before any decisions were made about the future of his football career.
Until Michael Vick undergoes the vigorous psychiatric tests now available to determine his ability to experience remorse, there’s no way to establish whether he will re-offend and he therefore has no business being primed to become a role model for children, which is what an NFL star is. PETA will not take anything off the table when it comes to any team or league that may sign Michael Vick.
In the meantime, other athletes are coming forward to speak out against dogfighting, including Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest, mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz, and World Welterweight Champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley, who is shooting an anti-dogfighting ad for PETA this week.
The key phrase: "...will not take anything off the table when it comes to any team or league that may sign Michael Vick."
That is known as a threat, ladies and gentleman.
In other words, this might take a while.