Even before he served 18 months in prison and two months in home confinement, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick expressed remorse for bankrolling and participating in a dogfighting ring.
Mr. Vick's arrest cost him one of the most lucrative contracts in the National Football League, endorsements, the respect of the fans and, ultimately, his freedom. He became synonymous with animal cruelty in a country where pet ownership and indulgence of four-legged creatures are commonplace. His crime made it difficult to imagine a scenario in which he could return to the NFL.
The league suspended Michael Vick indefinitely. He pleaded guilty and went to prison, where he got counseling. Because he was a model prisoner his sentence was reduced; he'll still be on probation for three years. He has agreed to work with the Humane Society to combat dogfighting. Now bankrupt, Mr. Vick is eager to return to his sport.
On Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated him with conditions, clearing the way for the athlete to participate in workouts, practice and two preseason games. His partial suspension will run through the first five games of the regular season, but he can suit up after that. This would be good news for Michael Vick if he had a team.
As the former star never tires of saying, he has grown in the time he's been away from the game. Shorn of his arrogance and bad company, Mr. Vick wants to be both a good citizen and a player worthy of respect.
After paying his debt to society, there's no reason he shouldn't be allowed to compete for a place in the NFL. It won't be easy, but sports fans who believe in redemption should allow Michael Vick to make his case both on and off the field.