Michael Vick’s doing a lot of selling these days.
The Eagles quarterback’s promising Super Bowls while protecting himself.
And from peddling T-shirts to a new book, there’s a lot of work going into reclaiming his image fter a 21-month prison stay for federal dogfighting charges.
Vick’s new autobiography, Finally Free, will go on sale Sept. 4. But he provided several excerpts to USA Today, in which he describes many of the events which led to his jail time.
Vick has vowed to turn things around, to become an advocate for animals instead of a killer of them.
“I’ve made peace with it, because I have no control over it. It’s not like I could do it all over again,” he said in the interview that accompanied the book excerpts. “But at the same time, I think I made a lot of changes for the better and I think in my quest to be an advocate against dogfighting and working with the Humane Society, I’ve helped more animals than I’ve hurt, and I continue to do that.”
Two things stood out among the brief portions of the book (which he said he began writing in prison) given to USA Today, the first an admission about how involved he was in dogfighting.
“Back when I was involved in those activities, I may have become more dedicated to the deep study of dogs than I was to my Falcons playbook. I became better at reading dogs than reading defenses. That’s just so sad to say right now, because I put more time and effort into trying to master that pursuit than my own profession . . . which was my livelihood . . . which put food on the table for my family.”
He also talked about lying to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“I knew how to lie with a straight face. Sad to say, Commissioner Goodell bought into what I was saying, and I think he truly believed me that I was telling the truth. I deeply regret not telling him the truth from the outset.
“It was a very nervous time for me. I knew I was going to try to lie my way through the whole dogfighting case and see if money, good lawyers, and manipulating the system could get me out of the position I was in — which was a terrible position.”
For what it’s worth, red flags go up for me when a guy selling a redemption story brags about what a good liar he is. But I’ve also talked to a number of people around the league who have worked closely with Vick who strongly vouch for his sincerity, and he was careful to surround himself with one of the league’s paragons of virtue (Tony Dungy).
Vick’s story is an appealing one, because falling down and getting back up is the central struggle every piece of literature needs.
At the same time, the nature of the crimes he committed and was punished for will keep a lot of people from ever buying what he’s selling.