Michael Vick on Monday.
Brett Favre on Tuesday?
We know this: The way the Vick story unfolded Monday assured that Favre's decision would not be revealed on the same day. No way. The NFL is too smooth to allow these two mega stories to collide. It appears to be a cloaked orchestration across the highest levels.
And that's OK.
Because if it all clicks for the league, if Vick gets it right and gets his shot and Favre returns, the NFL has a 2009 season that percolates well beyond its usual frenzy. Sure, there are plenty of curious tales across the league minus Vick and Favre. But this duo, these quarterbacks, can generate a blitz of coverage, spotlight and fan interest unlike anything we have seen in the previous 89 NFL seasons.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling Monday could allow Vick to play at any point in the 2009 season. The latest date is Week 6, the Oct. 18-19 slate of games. An earlier return could occur if Vick shows the commissioner he is ready.
Goodell listened to various voices inside and outside of the NFL office. Several of those voices reflected, in essence, the view of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens -- any extra punishment for Vick minus solid opportunity and a measure of support is wrong.
Goodell sought to balance the spectrum of views from fans, dog lovers, players, TV and business interests while considering the brand, the person, the player. To give all a slice of NFL common sense and goodwill. Good luck.
Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice president of football operations, said of the decision: "Personally, I am glad that Michael Vick has a chance to have a real say in his opportunity. As a former agent who represented players and as a former club executive with the Falcons who knew Vick personally, I think this decision smacks of real fairness in all corners.
"This is a step-by-step process that goes up to Week 6; it is not a six-game suspension by any means. If all goes well, he could be playing anytime from Week 1 forward. Roger listened to ownership, NFL employees, friends, relatives, players, counselors, people from animal rights groups. In his typical fashion, he sought input and listened to all before acting."
And Goodell emphasized his hope that Vick can become a successful example in his transition from NFL star to prison back to football.
That is a critical statement of intent. Goodell said: "I have thought about every alternative. But I think this gives him the best chance for success. We are not looking for a failure here. We are looking to see a young man succeed." That speaks volumes about the consensus of opinion that Goodell gained, his view of Vick after meeting with him one-on-one more than once since the quarterback's prison release and about how Goodell wanted to create an opportunity for Vick where his future actions could afford him a fresh football chance.
Goodell's choice for a league liaison of sorts -- Tony Dungy -- hits at the core of what the former coach hoped to accomplish when he retired last January. Dungy has long worked in prison ministry. He retired saying that ministry was calling him, along with the need to do something to help inspire those in trouble, those in need.
This quarterback/coach connection has the chance to be one of the most remarkable ones in NFL history. There is nothing ordinary or routine about it. It offers a twist to something Dungy heartily believes: "Everything has its own season."
This is what one NFL team executive had to say about the league and Vick: "I think it's good, a fair balance. I just wasn't getting the idea that no matter what he should not be allowed back. He's been out of football two years, but I'd say his chances are pretty good to be signed. A lot of times when people are away from the game, they lose the mental aspect of the game. I think you have to watch for that as much as the physical.
"I think he has to sign with a pretty strong team and organization -- someone strong enough to withstand the early onslaught and scrutiny. I expect that to happen."