BE Exclusive: NFL Legend Michael Vick on His Time in Prison and Succeeding Through The Fire

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick opened up about his road to redemption following his 21-month prison sentence in 2007 for his involvement in a dogfighting ring during a panel about empowering the next generation of Black men at BLACK ENTERPRISE’s 4th annual Black Men XCEL summit.

“When I came home from prison, I felt the pressure. I felt like I was living in a bubble,” admitted the FOX Sports analyst and activist on Thursday about the notorious incident which overshadowed his football career.

However, rather than succumbing to the pressure he felt, Vick says he used the tools he developed behind bars to help him persevere.

“I set goals while I was in prison. I accomplished almost everything that I wanted to accomplish and then some. That right there was the ultimate confirmation that I could do anything that I wanted to do in my life,” he said at the virtual conference.

Vick added that now he uses the adversity he’s overcome as a teachable moment for younger Black men and women.

“I preach a hard message when talking to the youth in terms of responsibility, character, your beliefs, values, and morals,” said the NFL legend. “I try to explain to young men and women the hurt and the anguish that I’ve experienced to grow stronger and to get to where I am today. I want my message to be, at all cost, you’re not going to go through life perfect, there are going to be some ups and downs, but it’s all in how you persevere.”

He went on to talk about leaning on faith, saying, “let God lead you from there.”

At another point, the former Atlanta Falcons player talked about the need to provide Black athletes with guidance, mentorship, and father figures.

“Young athletes today straddle the fence in terms of what I should do [versus] what shouldn’t I do. It can be very complicated. A lot of them come up from backgrounds where they’re not taught, not educated, and they don’t have that guidance in order to prepare themselves for what they’re going to be facing,” he said.

“We’re all put in high positions for a reason. I’ve been thought a lot and I look back and I say I want to help the younger generation not make the mistakes that I’ve made,” he added.

Sponsored by FedEx Express, Black Men XCEL (BMX) was designed to provide Black men with the tools, resources, and training needed to advance in their respective careers and industries as well as acquire generational wealth and maintain mental wellness. The two-day summit featured a variety of sessions, workshops, coaching, and virtual activities. BMX also gave participants access to some of today’s most successful business and executive influencers. Furthermore, the summit, which was also facilitated in partnership with presenting sponsors AT&T and JPMorgan Chase, provided attendees with the opportunity to conduct live chats with speakers, experts, mentors, and fellow attendees.

“The motto for this year’s BMX is celebrating the best of who we are,” said BLACK ENTERPRISE President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. in his opening remarks. “It is a celebration of Black men’s collective achievement, resolve, and resilience during one of the most challenging periods of our history. We meet under the cloud of COVID-19 and a crippled economy. We are nearing the end of a divisive, racially charged election, and Black men are under assault at all levels.”

Speakers included Walker Co. & Brands founder and CEO Tristan Walker, BCT Partners Chairman & CEO Randal Pinkett, AT&T Chief Development & Diversity Officer Corey Anthony, TV Host and Daddy Duty 365 Founder Shannon Lanier, former NFL Player Tiki Barber, PayPal Head of Global Financial Compliance Investigations Art Taylor, CNN contributor, attorney, and author Bakari Sellers, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.