On '60 Minutes' Vick says 'I blame me'

Michael Vick (left) spoke with James Brown on '60 Minutes' last night.
Michael Vick (left) spoke with James Brown on '60 Minutes' last night.
Posted: August 17, 2009

In his continuing effort to resurrect his image in the court of public opinion, quarterback Michael Vick appeared yesterday evening on CBS' "60 Minutes," during which he once again expressed remorse for his complicity in a barbarous dogfighting operation that toppled his career as the highest-paid NFL player and led to his imprisonment.

In a segment that was produced before it was announced Thursday that he had signed with Eagles, Vick impassively told interviewer James Brown that he understood "the magnitude" of what he referred to as his "poor judgment" the first day he walked into prison 2 years ago and the doors slammed behind him.

"There is no way to explain the hurt and guilt that I felt," said Vick, who was released from the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth (Kansas) in May and finished supervised home confinement on July 20. "And that was the reason I cried so many nights. That put it all in perspective."

Brown asked, "You cried a number of nights? About?"

Vick replied, "About what I did. Being away from my family. Letting so many people down. Letting myself down. Not being out on the football field. Being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home . . . All because of the so-called culture I thought was right, I thought it was cool, I thought it was fun and exciting. It all led to me lying in a prison bunk by myself - with nobody to talk to but myself."

Brown asked Vick whom he blamed for what happened.

Vick said, "I blame me."

The "60 Minutes" piece recounted the downfall of Vick, who bankrolled and participated in an interstate dogfighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels on a farm he owned in rural Virginia. Police removed 66 injured dogs and exhumed the bodies of eight more. Vick pleaded guilty to being part of an operation that engaged in a litany of cruel acts upon animals that included beating, shooting, electrocuting and drowning them.

Brown said pointedly, "Horrific things, Michael."

Vick said, "It was wrong, man. I don't know how many times I got to say it. I mean, it was wrong. I feel tremendous hurt [by] what happened. I should have [taken] the initiation to stop it all. And I didn't. And I feel so bad about that now. I didn't step up. I wasn't a leader."

Brown asked if he agreed or disagreed that it showed "a lack of moral character" that he did not stop it.

Vick said, "I agree."

Brown asked Vick why he had been drawn to dogfighting, asking if he had been gripped by an "adrenalin rush" or "sense of competition."

"Regardless of what it was . . . it was wrong," said Vick, who was ordered by a judge to pay close to $1 million toward the rehabilitation and placement of the injured dogs.

Brown asked Vick if he understood why people are outraged by the deeds he committed.

"I understand why," said Vick. "And I will say it again. It sickens me to my stomach. The same feeling I am feeling right now is what people are feeling."

Brown asked what that feeling was.

Vick said, "Disgust. Pure disgust."

Brown asked when did he arrive at that, "When did the light go on?"

"When I was in prison, I was disgusted," said Vick, who has declared bankruptcy. "Because of what I let happen to those animals. I could have put a stop to it. I could have walked away from it. I could have shut the whole operation down."

Brown asked, "What was keeping you going?"

Vick said, "Not being able to tell certain people around me, 'We can't do this anymore. I'm concerned about my career. I'm concerned about my family.' ''

Brown asked how Vick would respond to "the cynics" who would say he is more concerned "that his career was hurt than dogs were hurt."

"Football don't even matter," said Vick, who told Brown that he "deserved to lose" the $135 million contract he had with the Falcons. Vick also professed sorrow for lying to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who stood by Vick as allegations against him grew.

The "60 Minutes" segment also included comments from former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who has been appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a "mentor" to Vick; and Wayne Pacelle, the CEO and President of The Humane Society of the United States.

Both were supportive of Vick.

Dungy said, "There's a lot of young men, especially African-American young men, who need a chance . . . who did something wrong, but are looking to bounce back."

Pacelle said he hopes that Vick can become an "anti-dogfighting ambassador," especially among young people.

"Michael is somebody who needs to continue to demonstrate a commitment to this issue," said Pacelle. "That we were not interested if this was going to be a flash-in-the-pan involvement. And if Mike disappoints us, the public is going to see that."

Brown asked if he would remain committed.

Vick said he would let his actions speak louder than his words and that he would be "a living example of what not to do."

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