Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, has written a book titled “Finally Free.” The autobiography will be available on Sept. 4. The book, published by Worthy Publishing, talks about Vick’s life on and off the field. Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts head coach, wrote the foreword. Here are some excerpts from the book.
Chapter 5—The Fall
I saw my first dogfight when I was eight. One day, a friend and I stepped outside the building where I lived in the Ridley Circle housing project and saw kids and their bicycles surrounding a grassy area where we usually played football. But instead of a football game, about eight pit bull terriers were gathered. Most people don’t know this, but back then, just as is the case now, I am scared to death of dogs I don’t know. So my friend and I jumped on top of a mailbox to give us spectator seats at a safe distance from what was happening.
From our ringside seats, we saw guys putting their dogs’ faces right in front of one another. The dogs would grab and fight. I remember two of them were fighting when a third, smaller dog jumped on the back of one of the larger dogs to make it two-on-one. I didn’t know what to think of it all. In a way, it captured my attention. But it also seemed mean, even cruel. The bottom line, however, is that right there, on that very day, my fascination with dogfighting began. It’s something I wish had never, ever happened.
Chapter 7—Family Matters
I’ll never forget it. We were watching television together, and a clip of me playing football came up on the screen. Then it came across the news that “Michael Vick could be sentenced to several years in prison.” Mitez immediately burst out crying — uncontrollably.
“I don’t want you to go to jail!” he screamed.
I was hurt. I was ashamed. And it was all my fault.
How disappointing is that for your son to be watching you on TV and they show a highlight of you in an NFL uniform — which he’s accustomed to seeing you doing — and in the next breath, they’re talking about you going to prison? That’s folly. That’s confusion. I didn’t know what to tell him other than be honest. I told him why I was going to jail. And all I could do was pray everything would turn out right.
I was no longer No. 7, the football player. I was inmate No. 33765-183, and I couldn’t change that, regardless of the fact that this number definitely didn’t fit me. I had that number on every day. I had to write it on each piece of mail that I sent out. It will forever be embedded in my brain.
Chapter 13—MV 2.0
I was on stage, and my phone kept vibrating in my pocket.
“C’mon,” I was thinking to myself. Is it that serious?”
The week following our victory against Detroit, I was speaking to youth at a “What It Takes” event about the mistakes I made and the importance of making good choices. But my phone kept vibrating — over and over.
When I checked my phone, I had a text from Coach Reid saying, “Call me ASAP.”
I knew exactly what it was about. I knew he’d either tell me “You’ll start this week,” or Kevin isn’t ready yet.”
I called Coach Reid.
He always started phone conversations awkwardly with a quick, “How ya doing?”
“Good,” I said.
Then there was a long pause.
“Look here,” he said, dragging the conversation out a little. “I’m gonna make you the starter.”
Chapter 14—Moving Forward
Philadelphia took a chance on me. Many people, like Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Roger Goodell, took a chance on me. Through it all — my rise, fall, and ongoing redemption — I had support. I had support from my family, friends and fans. They didn’t have to support me, but they did. People didn’t have to write me letters, but they did.
My story is not finished. I have more to do. I have something that I want to give back to everyone that supported me. Here it is: I am committed, focused and determined to win a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. This is my promise. It is my drive. I will work like a champion to get there. I want to do it for my family, friends, mentors, coaches, teammates, and fans. I want to do it for Philly.