Dear Mr. Goodell,
I'm sure this letter will echo many others you have received lately and will continue to receive. It will likely not say anything you haven't heard before. Still, there are times when one has to speak out, even if it seems like yelling into the wind, and this is one of those times.
I am a football fan. I am also a dog rescuer and advocate. It is in both of these capacities that I am both shocked and horrified at your decision to allow Michael Vick to return to the National Football League. It matters very little whether he is allowed to play as soon a team picks him up or has to wait until October. He should not be playing at all. He should never play professional football again.
In your statement, you said "I hope that the public will have a chance to understand his position as I have." What understanding is it, exactly, that you hope the public will achieve? Michael Vick bankrolled and participated in an operation dedicated to the abuse and extermination of innocent animals. He admitted as much. I see no need for any further "understanding" of that "position." This is not an issue up for some kind of debate, where we all just have the wrong idea. This man did these things. He served 18 months in jail for them. You suspended him for them. Now you're allowing him a second chance.
Michael Vick does not deserve a second chance in the NFL. It undermines the seriousness of the crimes he committed that you are giving him one. Not only are you allowing Vick himself a second chance at a great opportunity that he squandered the first time (playing professional football), but you are sending a message to the fans of your sport that this kind of behavior is acceptable. Sure, he had to miss a couple of years and do some time, but his career is salvageable. Suspensions similar in length to Vick's have been issued for doping and substance abuse. Was Vick's crime really no more serious?
I had hoped that the Vick situation would shed some much needed light on the problem of dog fighting in the United States, and that it would begin to be taken more seriously in that light. For a while, it looked like that might happen. Now, I am not so sure. It seems equally likely that Vick and his supporters will be allowed to sweep this under the rug and that he will pick up where he left off. Anyone who has seen the long-term consequences of dog fighting, including shelters full of dogs bred to be fought and killed who are now unable to be rehabilitated, due only to human greed and stupidity, knows this is unacceptable.
I only hope that the NFL teams themselves will follow the lead of the Giants, Jets, Cowboys, and Falcons and show better judgment than you have when it comes to Vick. Just as he is an embarrassment to your league, he will be an embarrassment to any team that will have him, just as he ought to be to you.