On Saturday, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick joined Tony Dungy, Dan Patrick, and Peter King for a trip to Avon Park Correctional Institute in Florida, 94 miles from Dungy’s home in Tampa. It was Vick’s first time at a prison since leaving Leavenworth nearly two years ago.
King has written about the experience for the newest issue of Sports Illustrated. The article is available via the SI.com vault.
Speaking to roughly 300 inmates, Vick told them that they still are in control of their fate.
“Going into prison was tough,” Vick said. “You know that. There were days I wanted to lay down in my bunk, pull the covers over my head and cry. But I realized I wanted to live the right way. I wanted to be an instrument of change. That’s what you have to do at the end of the day. No matter why you’re in here, own up to your actions. Hold yourself accountable. Have a plan, so when you get outside those gates you’re going to have a chance. This is not the end for you. This is not it! You control your destiny.”
He gave them simple, basic advice: “Use your mind. Use your brain. Educate yourself. No excuses. It’s about faith. Believe in yourself.”
Vick later explained to King that the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year benefited from his time behind bars.
“As crazy as this sounds,” Vick said, “if I was standing outside a prison two years ago with what I know now, and you gave me the choice of going in and changing my life or staying out and continuing to live the life I was living, I’d go in. I’d change some things. The dogs, obviously. And maybe six months, not 17. But I needed to change. God gave me a timeout.”
At a time when plenty of skeptics wonder whether Vick really has changed, his comments are evidence that, in many ways, he has.