Michael Vick came off very well and said all the right things during today's introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
That doesn't mean everyone is going to forgive him. It doesn't mean everyone will believe that he's sorry and wants to do the right things. Or that everyone is going to support the Eagles for adding him to their roster.
The truth is we won't know just how sorry he really is until one, two, five or even 10 years down the road when we see the steps he's taken to right the wrongs of the past. As is usually the case, this is less about what he says and more about what he does. Vick said as much today.
But this was the first step. Vick did not dodge any questions. He answered slowly and thoughtfully. He made no excuses.
He either has given this a lot of thought or has been advised very well by Tony Dungy and company.
Some things that stood out:
** Let's start with Dungy. Rarely is a coach, or a person for that matter, so universally liked and respected. He retired from the game to help people, which got me thinking -- what's really in this for him? If he didn't feel Vick was sorry, that Vick deserved a second chance, he would have no reason to get on board. His imprint is all over this thing. If Vick goes down the wrong path, fairly or unfairly, Dungy will likely take it as hard as anyone. If you're going to take a risk like this, it's good to have someone like Dungy overseeing it.
** When the Vick scandal first surfaced, I think most of us thought -- why would someone engage in something like this when he has it all? Money, fame, etc. Looking back, Vick now asks himself the same question:
"I was wrong for what I did," he said. "Everything that happened at that point of time in my life was wrong and was unnecessary. And to this day, I can't understand why I was involved in such pointless activity. And why did I risk so much at the pinnacle of my career. And I was naive to a lot of things, but I figure if I can help more animals than I hurt, then I'm contributing, I'm doing my part."
** Earlier I said he made no excuses. Here's what I meant:
"We all use the excuse it was part of our culture and I don't think that's an excuse," he said. "I was kind of abiding by that rule at the time. As I grew older and as things started to transpire, and then when I went to prison, I had plenty of time to think about what I did. And I've seen people's reactions. And up until that point I never really cared. I won't say I didn't care, but I never thought about it. Now I understand that people care about their animals, they care about the health, the welfare, the protection of animals, and now I do. So that's why I say if I can help more than I hurt, then I'm contributing. I'm doing what I need to do."
** My primary question from a football aspect has been about Vick's ability. I feel like everyone's forgetting that he hasn't been on the field since the end of 2006, nearly three years ago. Are we sure he's the same athlete he once was? Has he lost a step? Will his body be able to endure the blows and contact associated with playing in the NFL? Here's what Vick said:
"I'm ready to go. I've stayed in shape. I did all the things to keep up my physical physique and it was harder when I was away, but over the last two months I've been able to manage and do things necessary to maintain my weight and my build, and hopefully my speed. And I think I've tested myself, tested the waters and I feel great."
** And finally, kudos to whoever it was that asked Vick how he comes to terms with the fact that some people will never forgive him. Because there are a lot of those people out there. Some have commented or e-mailed me in fact. Vick's response:
"I understand," he said. "... I can't explain how deeply hurt and how sorry I was once everything went down and I had to explain to my three kids what had happened, what had transpired to me, and it was because of daddy's faults and those were the toughest things, so I asked them for a second chance, to be a better father, to do the right things and to show them the way and how things are supposed to be done."
Feel free to chime in. Maybe I'm naive and/or gullible, but I wll admit to feeling better about this thing now than I did 12 hours ago.