Former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, whose involvement in a dog fighting ring landed him in federal prison for 18 months, has found God. In a recent radio interview, Vick said that his fall from grace showed him that “God is real.” The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is ten years past that horrific time, and is now speaking out about what prison taught him about faith, grace, and second chances.
Raised in a Christian home, as a boy Michael slept with a Bible under his pillow. His singular goal and prayer was that God would give him a career in professional football. But when his dream became reality, his worldview began to change.
Vick said, “There was a time when I was starting to feel like, ‘Oh, I made it. I arrived. That’s it.’ In all that, you start to think about what is really important. You start to think that money is more important and chasing money is more important and contracts that you have – companies and appearances and staying out late and not working as hard as you can,” Vick explained.
“It was basically, pretty much just being, not naive, but comfortable in the position that I was in. Not thinking things could always go in a different direction, whether positive or negative, but mostly negative. I mostly never paid attention to it until it happened.”
It “happened” in the form of a 23-month federal sentence for his involvement in the “Bad Newz Kennels” dog fighting ring in which over 70 dogs were seized by authorities at Vick’s property in Virginia. Vick’s time in prison cost him two seasons during the prime of his football career.
When asked how God was involved in the ordeal, Vick said, “I knew it was God the entire time. When I was going through everything that I was going through, I just felt for a long time that there was a black cloud over my head, there was nothing that I could do right. I knew the things that I was trying to hide from were finally catching up with me and it showed me that God was real, that you are not bigger than anybody, not better than anybody.”
Vick continued, “I was blessed and He blessed me. I had plenty of chances to do the right thing and I didn’t do it right. It was all about just putting myself in a position where I could see life in a different form. I think it took me 18 months to realize that, from being in a prison cell.”
While in jail, Vick said he leaned on Scripture, especially the Book of Psalms, during his worst times of sorrow.
“The Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Job – they were extremely important to me in my walk and my understanding. The Book of Psalms was very powerful. I leaned on the Book of Psalms in my toughest and my most sorrowful moments when I felt like I had no fight left. Those were the nights that I read those Scriptures and was able to wake up a new man the next day,” he explained. “I always seemed to get broken down and have to resort back to the Bible and resort back to reading it as a source of comfort and that comfort came from God.”
Vick added that while he was in prison, he prayed for a second chance.
Although he was released by the Atlanta Falcons before he was released from prison, Vick eventually signed and played with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2009 season. In 2010, he started 12 games for the Eagles, and in 2011, he started 13 games. Following his time in prison, Vick played a total of seven more seasons with three different NFL teams.
“It took a long time for me to understand how I needed to live my life,” he said. “Life is a lesson. You make mistakes and you learn from them. If you don’t learn from them, you really don’t get second and third opportunities, especially in my profession. You can end up in places where you don’t want to be.”
Vick concluded, “I messed up one time. I prayed for another opportunity, and God has given me that. Now – the promises I’ve made to God – I have to fulfill them.”