Vick shows rebuilt life on docu-series
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Michael Vick is taking his road to redemption to television.
Vick tells his side of how he got involved in a dogfighting ring that sent him to prison and temporarily halted his NFL career as part of a series that debuts next month on BET. Vick says the 10-part series will show he’s a changed man after a tragic fall from stardom he says “was all my fault.”
“At times, it’s hard to talk about it, but for the most part, if you talk about it and let it all out, it kind of helps put the demons to rest,” Vick told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Vick served an 18-month prison sentence for operating a dogfighting ring. He returned to the NFL this season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The Michael Vick Project” premieres Feb. 2.
In an advance copy of the first episode, Vick openly discusses living a “double life” of running the inhumane operation at the same time he was making Pro Bowls and signing a $100 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Vick explains in detail the childhood experiences he had with dogfighting and how the activity morphed from his NFL sideshow job to a bustling second career that spanned state lines.
“I really took to it,” Vick said on the show. “I was intrigued by what was going on. It kind of excited me and I gravitated to it.”
With the cameras rolling, Vick returned last year to property he used to own in Surry County, Va., where he established “Bad Newz Kennels.” Vick told The AP that walking over the burial spots of some of the dogs killed as part of his dogfighting operation was when he “really realized all the wrong that I did.”
“I wanted to go out there and just totally put it all away and forget about it,” Vick said by phone. “I felt like once I did that, I’d be able to do that. For the most part, I did. Since I’ve been out there, it’s eased a lot off my brain as far as thinking about it.”
Vick said he’d never be able to completely forget the horrific acts he witnessed and committed. Returning to Virginia made Vick deeply consider a question that still nags at his conscience: Why?
“Why sacrifice so many animals and put them in vulnerable positions to be harmed and injured?” he told The AP. “It was pointless.”
The first episode does offer a glimpse, however, at answering that question. Vick said he saw his first dogfight at only seven. Vick’s brother, Marcus, tells the cameras that “we never knew there was anything wrong with it.”
Michael Vick said on Thursday that dogfighting was a part of black culture.
“When you grow up in the inner cities, when you grow up in the urban neighborhoods, that’s pretty much what you get,” Vick said. “You don’t have opportunities to do certain things at your own leisure. When you have down time, if you’re not playing football, basketball or baseball, then you’re looking for some activity to get into.”
Vick worked with the Humane Society of the United States this season and gave speeches at schools and churches about how wrong he was to ever get involved with dogfighting – especially with his fame, freedom and fortune at stake.
Vick said he’s turned his life around and wants to show people that he can change. He knows he’ll always have his detractors – protests are included in the first episode and later ones – but he’s trying to make amends for his crimes.
“It’s still a work in progress each and every day and it’s going to be that way the rest of my life,” he told The AP.
His football future is in limbo. He attempted only 13 passes and rushed 24 times in limited action with the Eagles season. The Eagles hold a $5 million option for next season and might not pick it up if Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb return. Vick, who said he started working out Wednesday, hasn’t thought much about next season.
“I’m excited about everything,” Vick said. “Whether I’m in Philly or Tampa Bay, it wouldn’t even matter.”