Michael Vick might be known forever as a man who ran a dogfighting ring, but he has helped repair his image after a long jail sentence and years of advocacy for the cause.
Vick now believes that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was arrested and indicted on aggravated assault against his now-wife, can help amend and heal through a similar path to what Vick took.
“I think the most important thing that you can do is to try to make amends for what you’ve done," the New York Jets quarterback told NJ.com. “I think you have to show people that you’re trying to help yourself and bring awareness to that situation to help others, to prevent it. You’ve got to become an advocate.”
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Their crimes are vastly different. So are the way they are viewed and the price they paid for each of them. Vick did not compare the situations. But he did say that Rice has a chance to turn a big negative into a big positive by becoming an outspoken advocate against domestic abuse.
"You’ve got to continue to make amends," Vick said. "Once you start something, you can never go back. I feel like I’ve become an advocate of animal welfare, and I think I have to continue that.
“It’s all about keeping kids 15 years from now from doing the same," Vick said. "We’ve saved a lot of kids, and we’ve saved a lot of animals. That’s how I feel. Ray will make it right. He’ll do everything he can to make this situation whole again.”
Rice hasn't faced the public torment that Vick did back in 2009, when he reentered the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles following an 18-month prison sentence for dogfighting. Eagles training camps that year were flooded with protestors from animal protection groups, and they even showed up for Eagles games on the road that year and beyond. Those protestors largely are quiet now, but they were vocal and numerous a mere five years ago.
But Rice hasn't seen the same public scorn, even if he and Roger Goodell have been shredded by the media in the past few months. Ravens fans — even women wearing his pink N0. 27 jersey — roundly cheered him at several practices, scrimmages, events and in their preseason opener this summer.
Does that mean Rice can't take some of Vick's advice? Absolutely not — and stemming from his more sincere apology at training camp (following a botched, awkward public statement in May), it appears Rice wants to heal himself and make amends at home first. After that, he would make his followers proud by following a Vick-like path to redemption, whether or not a public-relations team is there to make it known to the world.
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