There are plenty of reports out there now: that Michael Vick met on Thursday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and that Goodell is now likely to allow Vick to sign with a team and attend training camp, followed by a suspension that could last 4 weeks (per ESPN) or 4 to 6 weeks (per the Washington Post). The NFL is denying a decision has been made. There has been some backing off of the reports.
Whatever. All of this is a necessary foundation upon which the real question rests:
Who wants him?
Goodell has this just about exactly right. Vick committed a terrible (and publicly-repugnant) crime involving dog-fighting and he served his prison time and most Americans really do believe the paid-his-debt-to-society thing. The NFL is big enough and strong enough to be able to embrace that notion, too. Vick still needs to make his public contrition, but you have to believe his image people already have that in the works.
And then, well, what?
I have said from the beginning and I will continue to say: he was not so good a player that most franchises would be willing to live with animal-rights picketing on a widescale basis. To repeat: people tend to forgive. But if the people from PETA and such throw everything they have at this, it will be a big mess. It will have to be a very strong owner -- and a very, very secure coach -- would would be willing to put themselves through the circus. These guys don't like playing on Monday night because it ruins their precious routine. Imagine a gauntlet of picketers outside of practice every day, and tying up traffic outside the stadium on at games.
Then you have to ask yourself: what does Vick have left? People forget that the opinion in the NFL had begun to turn against Vick before all of this mess got started. Big talent, great legs, true, true -- but where were the passing skills that would elevate him above what he had been? Where was the development? And how much was that already-slow development hampered by his time living on the government's dime?
My money is still on Vick heading to the UFL. (Pickets might double their crowds, after all.)