NFL

Vick looks to make amends

Watch Pam Oliver's interview with Michael Vick.
Watch Pam Oliver's interview with Michael Vick.
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Pam Oliver

Since joining the NFL on FOX team in 1995, Pam Oliver has established herself as one of the premier sports reporters on network television. She contributes feature stories and sideline reports for "FOX NFL Sunday" and reports from the NFL on FOX's top game.

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PHILADELPHIA

ALL ACCESS: A lot of networks do TV interviews, but have you ever wanted to know the juicy details that never make it to the broadcast? You can tell a lot about who people really are when the cameras aren’t rolling. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the interview with Philadelphia's Michael Vick that Pam Oliver had for this week's segment of the FOX NFL Sunday pregame show.


Michael Vick strode into a Philadelphia charter high school looking both chic and casual. His dark jeans were starched to perfection and his dark sweater felt soft to the touch.

Imhotep Institute in urban Philadelphia, which boasts a 100 percent graduation rate, set the stage for Vicks’s off-day appearance. The hundreds of students gathered had no idea, until the seas parted, that the Philadelphia Eagles’ most talked-about player was the reason for the pep-rally-like assembly.

Sure there was buzz around the school that something big was about to go down. Then the loud, tinny African drum beats started.

All I could think about was the famous footage of the Beatles landing on American soil to the deafening screams of overcome girls. Man, those students just lost it to the hysteria brought on by Michael Vick's presence.

“Happens a lot,” Vick told me later with nary a hint of arrogance.

In my experience, people have strong opinions about him one way or the other. Betcha some Eagles fans, once horrified that Philadelphia would give a chance to a player who’s gone to prison for committing horrifying acts of animal cruelty, have found a way to forgive him now. Michael Vick craves forgiveness, however it comes.

“I’m keeping it real with myself, doing everything I can to change people’s minds about what happened," he said. "You can’t change everyone’s mind.”

This next part is not about feeling snubbed or having hurt feelings, it’s about the unfailing professionalism I see from players and teams throughout the NFL who agree to interviews and appear as planned, and how stunning it is when someone is a no-show for any reason other than he’s dead in a ditch. Harsh?

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Anyway, I was not always a fan of Michael Vick’s and the feeling was mutual. He was so accommodating and affable in the early part of his six-year tenure with the Atlanta Falcons.

Then around Year 4 he stopped showing up to agreed-upon interviews altogether. Three times he stiffed us and gave excuses that took absolutely no effort.

“He forgot he had something to do,” embarrassed and apologetic PR folks explained one time. But by then I was hot and done. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would never have pulled that crap. They’d more than likely say no thanks from jump street — in a nice way, of course.

Well a few weeks later I took to the radio and bellowed about his antics and my changing opinion of him. Seems the entire Vick family back in Virginia and beyond heard it or heard about it. Our fallout was complete.

“You know we’ve had our little moment because you never showed up. You weren’t responsible in that way,” I said during our interview at the school. Vick smiled and nodded; waiting for me to get to the question. “What are you determined to be as a pro now, just a pro,” I finally finished.

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“Being a professional from all aspects. Knowing that my window is closing in on me and doing everything right this time around.

“That’s one thing I take from Don (former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb) and watching him. He’s a professional and that's the way I’m going to carry it out. I have to.”

At age 30 and a with felony record, Vick hopes to be exceptional as a person, a spokesperson for animal rights and as a quarterback in the NFL. He paid a steep price for being notorious.

“Honestly, Pam, I don’t know,” he says when I ask about getting his good name back. “That’ll come through a lot of hard work on and off the field and just making amends.”

For Pam’s complete interview with Michael Vick, watch "FOX NFL Sunday," America’s No. 1 pregame show, at noon ET/9 a.m. PT

Tagged: Eagles, Michael Vick

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