Michael Vick: A new dog could help my rehabilitation

theGRIO VIDEO - "I thank God for the people who came into my life and gave me a second chance and was willing to give me another opportunity," Vick said...

These days when Michael Vick sits down to talk about his life over the past few years, he’s looking back at a series of extremes — from star quarterback, to reviled dogfighter, to comeback kid — and now, mentor.

That last role is brand new for him. By his own admission, Vick had no interest in mentoring before, but he now spends much of his free time working with the Humane Society of the United States and talking to students about the ills of dogfighting. It is hard for some to comprehend that this once dogfighter is now trying to make a difference in the lives of kids.

“I do it because I want to,” he said in an interview with theGrio’s Mara Schiavocampo. “I think if I can help five or six kids daily, then I’m playing my position as a positive role model in our society. It doesn’t hurt to do it and it’s fairly easy. I tell a lot of people that it’s easy to do the wrong thing. It’s hard to do the right thing.”

The Eagles quarterback discussed his slow, but steady road to redemption, and he spoke about why he disregards negative comments from cynics who say he’s only mentoring because the courts are making him or to rehabilitate his damaged image.

Watch NBC Sports coverage of Vick getting his first post-prison endorsement

“Well first off, the court doesn’t make it an obligation for me to go out and speak,” Vick said. “It doesn’t make it an obligation for me to work with the Humane Society. I’m putting in the hard work to do it so it’s not for any personal benefit, it’s to help others.”

Vick has often expressed his love of all animals — not just dogs, and hopes that the court-ordered rule that prevents him owning a dog will one day change.

“I would love to get another dog in the future,” he told theGrio. “I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love, and my passion for animals.”

Click here to view a slideshow of theGrio’s top 10 sports stars who have found redemption

It is safe to say that Vick once found himself making all the wrong decisions when it came to the care of the dogs. But he claims outside influences enabled his dogfighting hobbies years ago.

“I hate to use our culture as an excuse, but it is what it is and that’s what happened and that’s the way I thought about it growing up,” the quarterback said. “This is just the way we were brought up.”

The Eagles player says he has changed his outlook on many things after his prison stint, telling the students he mentors, “without going to prison I would have never changed as an individual and as a person. And coming out of prison I was a totally different person.”

How is he different now?”[I’m a] better player, [a] better person. More patient, more persistent and a willingness to, set high goals and high standards, not only on the football field, but in life. And in so many ways, I thank God for changing my life and keeping me healthy and putting me on the path to where I can redeem myself and make a great comeback,” Vick said. “I thank God for the people who came into my life and gave me a second chance and was willing to give me another opportunity.”

With his dogfighting days behind him, Vick can now turn to a bright future filled with new possibilities. He has had an outstanding year on the field, and is currently in MVP contention.

His reaction to that possibility?

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“I’m not big on personal accolades, but if it does happen it’s just a credit to not only me but the people around me,” Vick said.

And in an arena where the number of successful African-American quarterbacks is growing — but where they continue to be a disproportionate minority, Vick contends that opportunities are available for those who work hard enough for them.

Click here to view a Grio slideshow: ‘Hate the player, love the game’ — about athletes whose off the field antics sometimes detract from their sports success

“I think if you’re good and good enough to play the position, I think you’ll get the opportunity,” he said. “I think that mold has been broken a long time ago. If you’re good enough to play, if you’re smart enough, if you work hard enough, then regardless of your race, you can play the quarterback position in this league.”

As for his own thoughts on his future, Vick said: “Obviously I have a tough three weeks ahead of me, so I can’t get too far ahead of myself, can’t get too sidetracked.”

What’s next?

“Continue to live life and have fun and get ready for the next couple ball games,” he said.