Regardless of how you feel about Michael Vick, most would agree that he has made a miraculous turn-around in the eyes of the public.
When Vick was released from federal prison in 2009 (after being cited as a key figure in a dog fighting operation), the buzz on the streets was that an image turn-around was highly unlikely. Many top sports marketing experts predicted that Vick would not return to the level of fame he enjoyed prior to his conviction. So what has Vick done to demonstrate that he is on the path to proving the experts wrong?
He Has Shown Remorse
He has participated in key interviews and has been open and willing to talk. During his interview with 60 minutes (August of 2009), Vick focused on his acceptance of blame and the realization of wrongdoing.
In his interview with the NFL Network (October of 2010) conducted by his former Atlanta Falcons coach, Jim Mora, Vick focused on his newly found work ethic (on the football field) and how he has changed as a human being. He described the person that he used to be – showing contrast to who he is now.
He Has Surrounded Himself With the Right People
When NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell asked former NFL Coach Tony Dungy, to act as Vick’s mentor, Goodell demonstrated that he genuinely wanted Vick to receive help and eventually return to the NFL. There are few people on the sports scene that are as highly regarded as Dungy. Vick could not have asked for a better gift from the NFL.
“I really got the sense he wanted to do some great things,” Dungy said. “He wanted to be a positive role model for young people. He wanted to get back to his family.”
Vick has gotten continued support from Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach, Andy Reid, who has embraced him like a son. Vick also gives credit to his former Eagles teammate Donovan McNabb, for teaching him how a quarterback should prepare, play and handle himself.
“Donovan had a lot of influence,” Vick said. “He’s an early bird. He’s here at 6:55, lifting weights and watching film, and I got into that routine.”
He Has the Humane Society
Vick has teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States and has become an anti-dogfighting ambassador. His duties in this role include speaking engagements directed towards inner city children. This has become a win-win situation for both parties, as Vick is able to reach out and educate a “tougher” audience the Humane Society could never reach. He has brought attention to the industry of dogfighting that would otherwise go unnoticed.
“He has been strongly committed to the program, to the anti-dog fighting program that the Humane Society operates,” Wayne Pacelle, the group’s president and CEO told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’ll continue to reach out to at-risk kids and to ward them away from dog fighting.”
He Has a Winning Season
All of these items are crucial in the reinvention of Michael Vick. However, most of these items would go unnoticed if Vick were not having a phenomenal season on the football field. After taking over as the Philadelphia Eagles starting QB, Vick is now in the conversation for League MVP. Whether it is right or wrong – winning always improves one’s image.
Even though Michael Vick has come very far, he will forever fight the image-battle. He must continue to prove that he is a changed person. He must continue to surround himself with the right people and stay out of trouble. He must continue his work with the Humane Society and to win on the football field. But most importantly, Vick must continue to prove that he has become a better human being.
by Taylor Payne