returned to his native Peninsula on Wednesday to promote his
, scheduled for June 22-24 at
He did so on the heels of his fourth
season, highlighted by the Eagles’
title and Vick’s Comeback Player of the Year award.
And here is a transcript of our conversation:
Question: As a young man, you attended a lot of camps. Did you ever think a camp would have your name on it?
Answer: “Growing up, I’ll never forget going to the
camp here at Hampton University. It was actually my first camp when I was playing with the Boys & Girls Club. Seeing Bruce and having the chance to just walk past him and knowing I’d seen him on TV, it only helped me dream. …
The one thing I took away from his speech was you have to commit yourself and dedicate yourself. Me having the opportunity to have my name on my own camp is very important, it holds sentimental value. … I’m going to make sure I entice other kids to dream. That’s what it’s about.
Q: The sentimental value, does that come with seeing the kids smile?
A: When I’m out there at camp with the kids I get so into it and so involved, I’m starting to realize I think I can be a coach one day. I get so into the routines and into the exercises and drills and paying attention to detail that I say to myself, Maybe I can do this one day.
Q: Funny you mention coaching. That’s the exact impression I had watching
’s Three for the Show segment with you drilling Tyrod (Taylor). It seemed very easy and natural for you.
A: Five years ago I couldn’t have done that. The coaches I have now in Philadelphia have taught me how to play the quarterback position. I pay closer attention to detail and I can understand the message that they’re trying to deliver when we’re incorporating our offense. That helps me on the field and also helps me to teach it. Because if you know it you can teach it.
I woke up that morning, I didn’t rehearse what I was going to say. I didn’t know what to expect. I just showed up. I kind of did everything off the cuff.
Q: Tyrod’s a pretty good student, isn’t he?
A: The key to being a great person not only on the football field but in life is being able to listen and adapt and adjust on the spot, on the fly. It’s only a mistake if you make it twice, and he may make a mistake once, but he won’t make it again. He’s a fast learner, which is a good thing for Baltimore.
Q: I know he wasn’t drafted as high as he might have wished, but the
don’t seem like such a bad fit.
A: It’s not. He’ll have an opportunity to play in preseason and show what he can bring to the table. I feel for him, because he has to play his first preseason game against us if we make it that far (with the lockout). But he’ll do well. He’ll be surrounded by a lot of talent, a great coach in (John) Harbaugh, and he’ll have a chance to learn from (starting quarterback)
, one of the best in the game. So what a great situation to be in.
Q: You talked about playing closer attention to detail. Does that come with maturity?
A: I think it’s maturity, becoming a student of the game, trying to become a student of the game. It happened to me late. And having the proper teachers. If you hear my speeches, I refer back to my coaches a lot, (Eagles head coach)
and (offensive coordinator) Marty Mornhinweg. The way they teach it and the way they install it and the way we go about our planning, ways to destroy teams, you have to be on point. You have to know exactly what’s going on and you have to be precise. That’s what I’m being molded into, and I’m not even there yet.
Q: And you’re 31.
A: Thirty-one next month.
Q: This month, right? June.
A: Today’s June 1st, right.
Q: Thirty-one, you’re a late bloomer.
A: That’s when Steve Young bloomed, so that’s pretty cool. Anytime I can get an interview with Steve and have a chance to catch up with him, he always comes out and meets me during pregame warm-ups. We find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. He shows that he cares.
Q: Do you think he sees some of himself in you?
A: Especially when I was younger, just a young lefty running around making plays, winning games however you could. There’s a lot of resemblance. If I can do half of what he was able to accomplish, than I’ll be happy. … He got a (
Q: Coach Mornhinweg came to Williamsburg last summer for a camp with his son. He said then, ‘I think Michael Vick is back.’ Not only physically, but also mentally. So in essence he kind of saw last season coming. Did you?
A: No. Coaches, they can always see it coming. We’ve got the type of coaches who challenge you but at the same time encourage you. They praise you when you’re doing good and let you know when you’re doing bad. All I heard was praise throughout the mini-camps and OTAs, training camp. So I felt I was on the right track, and I just used that as confidence. … I had an opportunity to put it all to work, and it all came to fruition at the end of the day.
Q: Last year was your fourth Pro Bowl season. Any doubt it was the most rewarding?
A: The most rewarding by far. I’m so grateful. Just felt a sense of accomplishment. But at the same time, wanted more. I’m blessed, I thank God for the opportunities I’ve been given and the situation He created for me.
Q: It strikes me you wouldn’t have been able to assume the leadership role you did without a whole lot of support in that locker room.
A: Without the support of the city of Philadelphia, without the support of the Philadelphia Eagles organization, the guys in that locker room, I would have been a wreck. From Day One, I felt a sense of comfort. You can’t ask for much more. … It’s very gratifying at the end of the day when you go through so much and you’re accepted back into the fraternity that you left and a great city. … I appreciate the hard work, I appreciate everything that was given to me, the opportunity, all the sense of hope I got from the fans.
Q: Do you feel a sense of obligation to (Eagles owner) Jeffrey Lurie and to Andy? Because they took a chance on you.
A: I owe a lot to Andy, I owe a lot to Mr. Lurie, I owe a lot to (team president) Joe Banner, my family, the city of Philadelphia, (
, Coach Reamon (Tommy Reamon, his high school coach), all the people who believed in me, who gave me the proper advice. … I’m on the right track now, thanks to that group of people.
Q: They all believed in you. Did you always believe?
A: I always believed I could get back to this point. I just needed a chance, and you never know when that chance is going to come. My theory is, Man fears what he can’t see. I couldn’t see it happening or when it was going to happen or where it was going to happen. The only thing I could do was wait, and being incarcerated taught me patience.
Q: The conventional theory was that because of the uniqueness of your skills and the fact that you were off the field for such a long time, was that you would have lost something.
A: I thought the same thing. I still feel I could be faster. You try to compare yourself to years ago, but it’s hard to make those comparisons. … I still feel like I can get away and I can move. I think that’s credit to the Lord’s blessings and hard work and dedication.
Q: The labor situation. How closely do you follow it?
A: I trust in the higher administration to get it all taken care of. I talk to our player reps and just try to make sure I have a general understanding with what’s going on. … I have my own issues at hand and things I’m trying to get accomplished. When it all works, I’ll be ready to play. But it’s out of our control. What I say won’t count.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time?
A: I spend most of my time in Philadelphia. Working out with some of the guys on the team. We had a two-week training session (recently) where we had a passing camp that I orchestrated. We had a turnout of about 15-16 guys, and we’ll probably do it again this month.
Q: Left-handed or right-handed golfer?
A: Left-handed. Shot 44 (for nine holes) today.
A: At the Riverfront (in Suffolk). Tough course, man. Greens are real lumpy.
Q: How early was your tee time?
A: I was out there at 7:30. I’ve been trained. Andy and Marty trained me to be in the building early. I try to keep that going. Have to stay competitive. Have to. Keep that competitive edge.
Q: Thirty-one. How many more years of football for you? Do you ever think about that?
A: I think about it all the time. It’s reality. The thing that I know and the thing I have to face for the duration of my career is that it’s coming to an end. All the years of prep, all the years of hard work, all the years of camps I’ve attended, high school two-a-days, college two-a-days. This is it for me. I can never have those days back. I feel like I’ve catapulted myself into a position to be one of the greats and down the stretch, this is when it counts. …
Who knows? Maybe five or six more years. Good ones.
Q: And then coaching?
A: Golfing (laughter). The
. Shooting 44 on one of the hardest courses around here, and three years of playing. Come on. I hit it straight. Very accurate. … Hand-eye coordination, baby, that’s what it takes. And consistency.
Q: What else is in your mind. Anything else I should have asked?
A: I’m looking forward to interacting with the kids, looking forward to teaching, looking forward to helping and guiding. This is an opportunity to help these kids take their games to the next level, take their minds to the next level, to dream.
Q: Those kids probably ask harder questions than reporters do.
A: Oh, man. They do. I tell them, don’t be afraid to ask questions. …
Q: When they ask you about prison …
A: I tell the truth. I ask them, ‘What do you want to know about prison? Ask me anything. I’ll tell you the truth.’ … I tell them, ‘You have a choice. You can take the right path, you can take the wrong path. Do you want to live righteous and do you want to be an ambassador in your community? Do you want to be the best person you can possibly be?’ And they understand. Especially the older kids. I love talking to high school kids. The little young pups you have to keep it basic. The older kids, you can pretty much tell them how you feel, and they can relate.
Q: Do you try to scare some sense into them, because prison is a scary place.
A: You know, the thing I don’t have to do is scare kids straight because I’ve been through the prison system. Just by me explaining I can be talking in a calm, collected voice. And they’ll be, like, ‘Really, really?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yeah, really, so don’t let it happen to you.’ That scares ‘em straight right there without having to make up some fictitious story. I just tell them my story, something I witnessed or been a part of.
Q: What do you tell them? What did you witness?
A: I can’t say. That’s too much information. But, it’s nothing out of the ordinary that you don’t hear about in prison.
Q: Violence? Brutality?
A: Prison life. Prison life. I just stand in front of the microphone and have a dialogue. I may even ask (outsiders) to leave the room and then tell them what I know. Then they’ll tell somebody else, who will tell somebody else, spread the word, spread like wildfire. Next thing you know, you’ve got 50 kids thinking a certain way instead of two, which is paramount. …
I’ll bet all the kids who attend this camp, whether it’s 350 or 400, they’ll all want to play in the NFL. And it’s not going to happen. … So have a back-up plan, have a Plan B, know football is not everything. You can make your mommy and daddy just as proud by going out and being successful in the business world, or being a teacher.
Q: We were talking earlier about last season. That Monday night in Washington (Vick became the first quarterback in NFL history to amass 300-plus passing yards, four touchdown passes, 50-plus rushing yards and two running scores in one game), given that it was so close to home, was that among the most rewarding games of your professional football life?