Vick wins Eagles’ courage award

Michael Vick’s peers appreciate his tough journey back to the NFL.

Vick won the Ed Block Courage Award, voted on by his

teammates on the Philadelphia Eagles, after the once-disgraced star

quarterback returned to the league after spending 18 months in a

federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.

“It means a great deal to me,” Vick said Wednesday. “I was

voted unanimously by my teammates. They know what I’ve been

through. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been great to come back and

have an opportunity to play and be with a great group of guys. I’m

just ecstatic about that and I enjoy every day.”

A three-time Pro Bowl pick in six seasons with Atlanta, Vick

has played sparingly with the Eagles. He has two touchdowns rushing

and one passing in 12 games.

The Ed Block Award honors players who exemplify commitment to

the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Each of the 32 NFL

teams selects a recipient.

“I’ve overcome a lot, more than probably one single

individual can handle or bear,” Vick said. “You ask certain people

to walk through my shoes, they probably couldn’t do. Probably 95

percent of the people in this world because nobody had to endure

what I’ve been through, situations I’ve been put in, situations I

put myself in and decisions I have made, whether they have been

good or bad.

“There’s always consequences behind certain things and

repercussions behind them, too. And then you have to wake up every

day and face the world, whether they perceive you in the right

perspective, it’s a totally different outlook on you. You have to

be strong, believe in yourself, be optimistic. That’s what I’ve

been able to do. That’s what I display.”

The Eagles were criticized by animal rights activists for

signing Vick less than a month after he was released from prison.

Dozens of protesters voiced their outrage outside the team’s

practice facility the day after Vick was signed, and many fans

threatened to give up their tickets.

But Vick got a warm reception in his first game with the

Eagles and by most accounts has been a model citizen off the field.

The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of

Animals, issued a statement reprimanding the Eagles for giving Vick

the award.

“The Philadelphia Eagles fumbled when they gave Michael Vick

the Ed Block Courage Award, which was named after a man who

advocated in behalf of abused children,” the PETA statement read.

“Michael Vick should not be the person anyone points to as a model

of sportsmanship, even though he has now exchanged dogs for

touchdowns after serving time for extreme cruelty to animals. We

wish him well in educating others, but this is not appropriate and

does not mark a joyous moment in NFL history.”

Vick has spent time working with the Humane Society of the

United States, speaking to school and community groups about the

mistakes he made in getting involved in dogfighting.

“It was a big obstacle proving I’m worthy of a second

chance,” Vick said. “It doesn’t stop here. I have to continue to

prove that. I think it’s not going to be a day-to-day process, it’s

going to be a year-in, year-out process. It’s a challenge to

myself. The thing I told (NFL commissioner) Roger (Goodell) is that

four or five years from now, I’m going to come to him and say,

‘Everything I told you I was going to do, I’m still doing it.’ And

that’s what I pride myself on and that’s my focus and that’s my

goal.”

Quarterback Donovan McNabb called the award “well-deserved.”

“Congratulations to him for straightening his life around and

bettering himself as a human being,” coach Andy Reid said. “He’s

obviously very well-respected by his teammates.”