Michael Vick sidesteps death threats to advance book tour

Sports | Tiffany Owens

Michael Vick sidesteps death threats to advance book tour

Michael Vick speaks to the media.
Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke, File

Controversial quarterback Michael Vick announced plans this week to continue his national book tour despite an onslaught of threats. He challenged protesters in an interview with USA Today: “Why would you continue to bash somebody who is trying to help make the world a better place?”

When Barnes and Noble announced plans to host Vick’s book-signing, animal rights’ activists took to social media to protest against the bookseller, Vick, and his publisher, Worthy Publishing.

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“I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals,” wrote one person on Barnes and Noble’s Facebook page. Threats like these eventually convinced Worthy to cancel the tour. The company reported the threats to the police.

“While we stand by Michael Vick’s right to free speech and the retailers’ right to free commerce, we cannot knowingly put anyone in harm’s way,” said Worthy’s president Byron Williamson. The company cancelled the tour on March 11, but earlier this week, Vick said he would press on. A Worthy spokesperson said the company will schedule additional dates around his NFL schedule.

In Finally Free, Vick’s self-described “rags-to-riches story of redemption,” he recounts his rise to fame as an Atlanta Falcons quarterback, and then his fall of shame as the leader of a dogfighting ring. Although common in the rural south, dogfighting rings  are illegal, and the dogs force to fight usually face horrific abuse inside and outside the ring.

Vick’s operation lasted for five years. He pleaded guilty in 2007 and served 21 months in prison and two months on house arrest. In Finally Free, he said he converted to Christianity during that time and started a mentoring relationship with former NFL coach Tony Dungy.

Vick now spends time publicizing his book, advocating for at-risk youth, and supporting the Humane Society’s, “Pets for Life” campaign. Later this year, he will resume his quarterback position on a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.  

But six years later, his name draws ire from animal rights’ activists and others who doubt his sincerity. Humane Society’s Wayne Pacelle, the man who agreed to let Vick work with the organization on a campaign to combat dogfighting, admitted reservations in a 2009 blog post.

“I sat with the man, but I still don’t know what’s in his heart,” Pacelle wrote. “He asked for an opportunity to help. … If he makes the most of it … it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dogfighting. If he demonstrates a fleeting or superficial interest, then it will be his own failing, not ours.”

In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick seemed to acknowledge only time and perseverance will silence his critics: “You gotta move forward,” he told the newspaper. “I think the most important thing for me to do is to continue to stay positive and continue to do the right thing because that’s what’s going to make a difference.”

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