In his first public appearance since cancelling stops on his book tour due to death threats, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick appeared at a charity event for juvenile offenders in Atlanta and responded forcefully to the backlash against him.
"Why would you continue to bash somebody who's trying to help make the world a better place?" he said of animal rights activists during a phone conversation with USA Today's Robert Klemko.
Vick signed autographs at a church in suburban Atlanta just four days after cancelling several appearances to promote his autobiography, "Finally Free." He said that the attention the controversy drew to the book actually boosted sales and that he intends to complete an amended tour with added security measures.
"A lot of people are sick and tired of hearing about my past, because there are so many other problems that are going on in this world that need to have attention drawn to them," Vick told USA TODAY Sports. "People are dying every day, children are being killed, going to jail. Not to say I overlook what I've done, but I try to do outreach as a positive.
"That's my responsibility. That's what I'm going to continue to do. That's what's important. Those people are not important."
Despite coming off a disastrous 2012 season, Vick also said that he is preparing for 2013 with the mindset that "I'm the starter." The Eagles opted to restructure his contract rather than release him, agreeing to a deal in February that reduced his 2013 salary from $16 million to $7 million plus incentives.