- (Photo: AP Photo / David J. Phillip)
For those who have been unconvinced by the hailed turnaround of professional football player Michael Vick and his self-professed return to Christ since his involvement in an illegal dogfighting operation was brought to light, the upcoming BET reality series that he’ll be starring in should lay doubts to rest.
Or it might fuel them.
We’ll find out when “The Michael Vick Project” premieres Tuesday night on BET.
“Life is about choices, making good judgments, good decisions,” says Vick in the promo for the documentary series.
“I was top pick in the NFL. I had all types of endorsement deals. But along the way, I let everything come crashing down,” he continues.
It has been nearly three years since Vick pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy and involvement in the killing of at least six dogs following a raid of the football star’s property.
Since the bust, Vick has apologized for initially lying about his involvement in illegal dogfighting and expressed regret for being a poor example to all his young fans.
He’s also said he found Jesus – a claim that was, not surprisingly, met with skepticism.
"I'm upset with myself and, you know, through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God," Vick had said in a public apology on Aug. 27, 2007. "I think that's the right thing to do as of right now."
Following Vick’s remarks, some – including conservative radio talk show host the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson – accused the disgraced quarterback of evoking Jesus' name to stop the criticism and gain public sympathy.
"'Jesus' is the most abused name in black America and Vick is following a long line of abusers," commented Peterson, who is himself African American.
"We can no longer allow celebrities and politicians to break laws and then use 'Jesus' as a get-out-of-jail free card,” he added. “Most of these people go right back into their bad behavior and criminal activities as soon as the storm passes."
But Vick’s supporters say the former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback (and now back-up for the Philadelphia Eagles) has changed and that he has been making good on his pledge to commit himself to long-term participation in outreach programs to steer inner-city youth away from dogfighting.
Vick has received testimony from Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, who said Vick delivered “a powerful message against animal cruelty” at events in Atlanta and Chicago.
His character has also been vouched for by former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, one of the most respected figures in the NFL and the man whom Vick credited for his turnaround.
Dungy "helped redefine me as an individual," Vick said.
What that definition looks like today will be clear to the public when “The Michael Vick Project” makes its debut.
In the promo for the series, Vick says he “felt like I let the whole world down, more so myself than anybody” when he was caught in 2007 and sentenced to serve over a year in prison for his “key” role in an extensive unlawful interstate dogfighting ring.
“I can’t take it back. I can’t do it over again. That’s now a part of my life,” he continues.
So while it’s “a chapter that’s closed up … it’s still in the book,” Vick says.
“The Michael Vick Project: A Documentary Series” premieres on BET at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday.