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Michael Vick admits: 'I let money change me'

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick appeared on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" show on Tuesday to talk about his new book.

Michael Vick admits: 'I let money change me'

"At some point arrogance overtook me, and I can honestly say I let money change me," Michael Vick told CNN. (Sarah J. Glover/Staff file photo)
"At some point arrogance overtook me, and I can honestly say I let money change me," Michael Vick told CNN. (Sarah J. Glover/Staff file photo)

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick appeared on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" show on Tuesday to talk about his new book.

Vick reflected on his upbringing, how it influenced his interest in dogfighting, and the effect that going to prison has had on his life.

Morgan first asked Vick what it means to him to have written the book.

"It's something I wanted to do a long time ago, pick up a pen and write a book," Vick said, adding that having the opportunity to write made him reflect on his own personality.

"I learned that I wasn't as forthright as I always wanted to be and could be," he said. "Being in a prison you have lot of time to sit back and think about things."

Vick said he "felt like I was lying in a sense" to himself about how he wanted to lead his life.

"I wanted to change, [knowing that] I was too late," Vick said, "because I was over and done in a prison cell with no opportunity to explain or even ask for forgiveness."

Morgan asked Vick what he thought the lowest moment of the dogfighting scandal was.

"I think the lowest moment was when I had to tell my son that I was going to prison and would be going for two years," Vick said. "He just broke down and cried - it was shocking because I didn't think he was able to understand the prison concept."

Vick noted the "pictures of me walking into a courthouse and them saying derogatory things" and the effect that had on his son.

"What can you tell a kid who is four years old, four and a half years old, and doesn't understand what dogfighting is, why his father is going to jail?" Vick said. He said that was the "toughest moment of my life, toughest than any football game I've lost, any sack I've taken."

Vick said that the dangerous environment in which he was raised in Newport News, Va., contributed to his perception that dogfighting was not a problem.

"You see all this violence and it becomes the norm," Vick said. "It made it seem like it was right because it was so consistent, night in and night out, day in and day out. You start to believe that there are no consequences behind it."

Vick said that before he became interested in dogfighting, he had a positive "passion for animals" and cared for a dog with his own money, despite his mother not letting him keep the dog in the house.

"The day I saw that [first] dogfight, something changed," Vick said. "I didn't know dogs could react the way they did."

He added that among his friends and acquaintances growing up, "no one said [dogfighting] wasn't the right thing to do."

"You can only go on what you see at such a young age, and I just fell into that trap and started believing what I wanted to believe," Vick said. "There was never a point at which someone tried to correct me and tell me it was wrong."

Morgan asked Vick to reflect on having written in his book about being a dog lover, and whether that contrasts with enjoyment of dogfighting.

"I know it may seem contradictory but that's just the person that I was," Vick said. "On one hand, I love dogs, on the other hand I was in love with the competition behind it. For some reason I couldn't really see the meaning behind it."

Vick returned to the point that no one told him when he was growing up that dogfighting was wrong.

"If somebody would have told me at a young age that you would go to prison for it, then I think I would have gone in a different direction, because my whole life was predicated on one dream - making the NFL," Vick said. "If there was any obstacle standing in my way, I would have avoided it."

Vick called the dogfighting culture in his hometown "an underground world that we lived in."

"It took place in places where you would have never thought, and at times of night that you would never have thought of," Vick said. "I enjoyed the competition aspect of it. As far as the cruelness and the grueling part of it, being honest and candid... I wish it had been done a different way."

He then added: "You feel like you let a lot of people down who have a great deal of appreciation for your accomplishments. And for what?"

Morgan asked Vick whether he was changed by going from the environment in which he grew up to an environment in which he was a superstar NFL quarterback.

"Yeah it did," Vick said. "Growing up with outstanding morals and values from my mom and dad, I became someone who I didn't really know... At some point arrogance overtook me, and I can honestly say I let money change me. Any time that happens that's a recipe for disaster and it led me down a dark road."

Vick said that looking back now at the person he was eight years ago, he understands "the magnitude of how my life changed so much."

"I had all the right people around me to give me the right advice - it was just Mike's world, I wanted to do it my way and my way only," Vick said. "Like I said, it's just a situation where you kind of lose sight of what's right and head down a dead-end road."

Morgan brought up the fact that Vick lied at one point to National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell about being involved in dogfighting, then asked Vick who else he lied to.
"I lied to my mom," Vick replied. "She really didn't know what was going on. She I think had heard just from people word of mouth that I was engaging in illegal activity but she couldn't put a finger on it and nobody else knew.
"I told her the truth the day I got arraigned. I think my mom cried for four or five days straight, and everybody else around me who loved me and cared about me, because they just didn't think it would go that ar - they didn't think I would end up going to prison. It was a dramatic change for everybody's life."
Morgan then asked Vick when he realized that he was going to be in prison for a long time, and how it felt.
"The first day was tough, the second day was tough," Vick said. "The third and fourth days, when it starts to settle in that you're not going home and talking to your family, and they're feeling the same way you feel, there's no jubilation - it's all sadness for my sinister acts. There's no explanation for it, there's no way of consoling anybody, there's no way of consoling myself."
Morgan asked Vick what he would say to people who argue that dogfighting is such a horrible that he shouldn't be allowed to play football anymore.
"That's the reason I wrote this book - to tell people what I went through," Vick said. "I know I can't dwell on people's perceptions because I can't change them. I don't blame them.
"I do believe everybody is entitled to a second chance," Vick then said. "People are not saints, and having gone through life without having done everything right, you can't be hypocritical. If a person has lived their life and done everything right, then I understand, but there are a lot of sinister acts that go on in this world."
Finally, Morgan asked Vick if he wanted to be liked again in the way that he was before his prison sentence.
"I think it's more important to be understood," Vick said, noting that he had even received kind words from fans of the rival New York Giants after his release from prison. "Some people are going to like, you, some people aren't, just for certain reasons that are unexplainable and I won't try to understand. But I think it's important that I'm understood."

Morgan brought up the fact that Vick lied at one point to National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell about being involved in dogfighting, then asked Vick who else he lied to.

"I lied to my mom," Vick replied. "She really didn't know what was going on. She I think had heard just from people word of mouth that I was engaging in illegal activity but she couldn't put a finger on it and nobody else knew.

"I told her the truth the day I got arraigned. I think my mom cried for four or five days straight, and everybody else around me who loved me and cared about me, because they just didn't think it would go that far - they didn't think I would end up going to prison. It was a dramatic change for everybody's life."

Morgan then asked Vick when he realized that he was going to be in prison for a long time, and how it felt.

"The first day was tough, the second day was tough," Vick said. "The third and fourth days, when it starts to settle in that you're not going home and talking to your family, and they're feeling the same way you feel, there's no jubilation - it's all sadness for my sinister acts. There's no explanation for it, there's no way of consoling anybody, there's no way of consoling myself."

Morgan asked Vick what he would say to people who argue that dogfighting is such a horrible that he shouldn't be allowed to play football anymore.

"That's the reason I wrote this book - to tell people what I went through," Vick said. "I know I can't dwell on people's perceptions because I can't change them. I don't blame them.

"I do believe everybody is entitled to a second chance," Vick then said. "People are not saints, and having gone through life without having done everything right, you can't be hypocritical. If a person has lived their life and done everything right, then I understand, but there are a lot of sinister acts that go on in this world."

Finally, Morgan asked Vick if he wanted to be liked again in the way that he was before his prison sentence.

"I think it's more important to be understood," Vick said, noting that he had even received kind words from fans of the rival New York Giants after his release from prison. "Some people are going to like, you, some people aren't, just for certain reasons that are unexplainable and I won't try to understand. But I think it's important that I'm understood."

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