NEW! Michael Vick, Finally Free: An Autobiography

While the book is generously laced with religious references and even Scripture, it by no means is heavy-handed in its presentation. It should be noted that Vick’s co-authors work for a faith-based sports publication but the book does not try to convert the unconverted.

Instead, it spells out in plain language how Vick saw his first dogfight when he was about eight years old and was exhilarated by it. Dogfighting, he writes, was commonplace in the area where he grew up so it was a totally accepted way of his life there.

“The bottom line, however, is that right there, on that very day, my fascination with dogfighting began,” Vick writes. “It’s something I wish had never, ever happened.”

He doesn’t use that as an excuse for what he’d do later, but it is a factor in trying to figure just where Vick went wrong.

Vick talks about his exciting career at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., where he literally put the program on the map with his electric play in the 2000 national championship game against perennial powerhouse Florida State University.

Vick went on to leave school early for the NFL and he writes about the emotional phone call he made to his coach and how both of them cried over the news.

Vick goes out of his way to clear up one falsehood – that he was involved in dogfighting while at Tech. He says that accusation is totally false and that he didn’t get into dogfighting until he was in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.

For a country boy like Vick, his jump to the NFL, he says, was a blur. Atlanta was like Valhalla to a young man with millions of dollars in his pocket and the starting QB job for the Falcons. He admits to partying way too much and not taking his job as seriously as he should have. He also talks about the posse of shady characters that he couldn’t say no to.

“The Falcons had concerns about the guys I was hanging around with … (but) the games I was playing were well hidden from the Falcons organization, the NFL and the public for a long time,” Vick writes. “And though hidden, my lifestyle and decisions soon caught up to me and began issuing warning signs that I was taking a dangerous path.”

Two of those warning signs involved airports. In 2004, a member of Vick’s posse was accused of stealing a screener’s watch at a security checkpoint. Vick says now it was a misunderstanding and that the watch eventually was returned. Another involved a water bottle with a hidden compartment that was taken from Vick at Miami International in 2007. It was suspected that marijuana residue was in the compartment but tests proved negative. Still, the damage had been done. The news media jumped on both incidents and Vick’s good guy veneer began to crack.

Other things followed – Vick blowing off high-profile public appearances and flipping the bird to the home crowd after a painful loss.

Through it all, Vick admits he was spoiled, arrogant and clueless. Even with the dogfighting. No longer an 8-year-old, the adult Vick knew what he was getting into, but the thrill of watching the vicious sport was too big of a draw.

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