Michael Vick did return to prison Saturday, but it was strictly as a visitor. Vick and Tony Dungy spent some time Saturday at a prison in Avon Park, Fla. It was the first time Vick has stepped foot in a penitentiary since he was released from Leavenworth nearly two years ago.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King tailed the duo, who were there to speak to/inspire/provide hope for approximately 700 inmates.
“I want to be an instrument of change,” he told about 700 prisoners at the Avon Park Correctional Institute, 90 minutes south of Orlando. And he was terrific in his five hours here, signing autographs, talking to two large groups of prisoners and then talking to men in smaller groups informally. He also spoke to eight men in solitary confinement.
Vick had been a little tight Friday night. “I’m nervous about going,” he said, “but this time, I get to leave at the end of the day.” When Vick strode into the courtyard to meet the men, he wore AVON PARK VISITORS BADGE 307; the inmates wore their prison IDs clipped to the front of their prison-issued blue uniforms. In the informal chatting and signing, much of the talk was football. “You gonna learn to slide now?” one 25ish inmate asked.
“No. No,” Vick said. “Not how I play. In 20 years, I’ll look back at my career and say, ‘I never learned to slide.’ ”
“Need you on the Giants!” another inmate shouted.
“Nope,” he said. “Eli’s team.”
King also had this random but intriguing note: “Did you know Vick, while imprisoned at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., had a “Longest Yard” experience, quarterbacking one team of cons to a 42-14 win over another?” Vick says he had about six or seven incomplete passes and was actually sacked once. Pretty cool.