Tony Dungy believes Michael Vick is focused on putting his life back together. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach has agreed to mentor Vick as part of the quarterback's conditional reinstatement to the NFL.
"I'm not sure what football is going to hold for him; that will be discussed at length in the sports pages over the next few weeks," Dungy said in a post on his blog Tuesday. "I believe in second chances for people who admit their mistakes and are committed to changing."
Dungy retired in January, two years after leading Indianapolis to a Super Bowl title. He has long been involved in prison ministries. Dungy met with Vick in May at the federal penitentiary, where the former Atlanta Falcons' star was serving an 18-month term for running a dogfighting ring.
Dungy, who lives in Tampa, said he also met Vick on a second occasion and has spoken to him on the phone several times.
"I think Michael deserves the chance to show people he has changed and learned from past mistakes, but my true hope is that he will make sound decisions about his future and, at the same time, let people know more about the person that I've come to know recently. I know the public will be skeptical, but I think, over time, people will find there's a different side to him than what they've seen so far."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that Vick can immediately take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games - if he can find a team.
Once the season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.
"Sure, he would love to play football in the NFL again," Dungy said, "but I think he has other priorities."
Dungy said Vick wants to reconnect with his three children after missing 18 months of their lives.
"He also would like to have a positive impact on young people's lives and he realizes that his dogfighting conviction has been a huge negative in that respect," Dungy said. "I know he wants to turn that around and help kids understand the importance of good decision-making."