Speaking to a group of Philadelphia high school students, Michael Vick warned against the danger of peer pressure and offered himself as a cautionary tale.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who served two years in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring, addressed a rapt audience of 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school.
In the latest stop on his apology tour, he urged the students to make the right choices and to be a leader, not a follower, resisting temptation along the way.
“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” the disgraced NFL superstar said Tuesday.
“Being away from my family, being away from my kids, being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, I wish I could take it all back.
“I should have been a leader, not a follower.”
The 10-minute talk marked Mike Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles.
At the time, he expressed a desire “to be part of the solution and not the problem” by speaking to children around the country about dogfighting.
Speaking without notes, Michael Vick told the hushed assembly Tuesday that his many poor decisions imperiled the life goals he had set for himself:
“My future was promising ... at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing things that were not ethical and not right.”
Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle has said he met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and that Vick sought to work with the group after his release.
Hopefully, more appearances like this will help Vick's message ring true to today's youths and, over time, inspire more good than the harm he wrought.