Vick is all football at Block Awards

Dog-fighting conviction put aside

March 09, 2010|By Mike Klingaman | mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

For a few hours, Michael Vick left his controversial past behind. On Monday, at the Chick Webb Recreation Center, youngsters surrounded the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, begging for an autograph, a photo or some welcome tips about football.

Put aside, for the moment, was Vick's 2007 conviction for running a dogfighting ring in which pit bulls were killed. Monday, he was one of 28 NFL players in town for an Ed Block Courage Awards reception at the East Baltimore rec center.

It wasn't just kids who were drawn to Vick. Vick was asked for his autograph by a Baltimore City police officer who was part of the security force.

Earlier Monday, Vick said, he faced serious questioning during the players' tour of St. Vincent's Center, a home for abused children in Timonium.

"One kid came up to me there and asked about the [dogfighting] issue," Vick said. "I told him the truth."

Meaning?

"I won't go into detail about what we talked about. That's between him and me," he said. "But I told him exactly what happened and how I'm trying to make amends and do things the right way now."

Vick has made several appearances on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States, one of whose top executives will accompany him tonight to the awards dinner at Martin's West.

"I'll keep [doing volunteer work] for the rest of my career, and even when football is over," Vick said. "Everybody thinks I'm doing this to get back in people's good graces, but that's not the issue.

"I'll do this as long as you and I are alive."

Vick was nominated for the Ed Block award by his Philadelphia teammates. One player from each NFL team is singled out annually at the banquet for his inspiration, courage and sportsmanship.

Asked whether he felt he deserves the honor, Vick, who served a 21-month prison sentence, replied, "This award was voted amongst my peers. They put me in this position, and that's why I'm here."

The award is named for Ed Block, head trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954 to 1977, who worked with handicapped and abused children in his spare time.

Organizers said they have bolstered security for tonight's affair in anticipation of possible protests by animal rights groups regarding Vick's presence.

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