Michael Vick on voting rights and the golden age of Black quarterbacks - Sports Illustrated

Michael Vick Opens Up About Having His Voting Rights Reinstated and More

For Michael Vick, helping people get their voting rights restored post-incarceration is a personal issue. The Fox analyst talks about his efforts in that area, plus his TV work, his relationships with the talented Black quarterbacks in the league now and more.
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When Michael Vick thinks about his career in the NFL, he can’t help but have great admiration for everything he accomplished.

“In terms of the accolades and the big games I played in—I didn’t know I would reach this magnitude,” Vick says. “I would say I appreciated the journey every step of the way. Now I am really appreciating the post-career because when we are playing football you don’t know what post-career is like and it is scary, and now I can say five years since being out of the league, the NFL platform has been good for me and the relationships go beyond football. It’s not about what you can do for the game, it’s about what you can get as far as experience in playing the game and educating the next generation on how to be productive and how to save your money and leave the game of football with your footprints on it.”

Vick was the first Black quarterback selected as the No. 1 pick in the NFL and became a cultural icon while playing for the Falcons. He understands the position other Black superstar quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson are in. He sees himself in them. He also understands how quickly everything could be taken away.

He found new meaning in life after being sentenced to 23 months in prison in 2007. He has partnered with LeBron James and More Than a Vote to help returning citizens understand their voting rights and how to get them reinstated post-incarceration.

Vick spoke to Sports Illustrated about More Than a Vote, being an analyst on Fox and the golden age of Black quarterbacks.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Michael Vick behind a broadcast desk

Congrats on preparing for your fourth season as a cohost on the Fox NFL Kickoff show. I heard that you are driving cross-country to L.A. to join the production team. How has the ride been so far?

It’s been good, man. The family is good. Everybody is happy, and they have smiles on their faces. I guess that is my responsibility to take it serious and make sure they are O.K.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but are you excited for the return of the football season? How have you evolved from your first season as an analyst to now?

Definitely feel like I have evolved since my first season. I was … you know, I auditioned and did well enough, but I never imagined what TV would be like or didn’t really know what to expect after being interviewed and having microphones put into my face. I had to learn about what being an analyst on TV consisted of. It was different. You can't really sit back and think like a player, you have to put yourself on the other side and I think that is what I have grown to learn over the last three years. I am now in that position to be an analyst and help break things down. I feel like I have grown in that category and have grown more confident. I believe in what I say, and I am saying it for a reason. That is more important.

Quarterbacks go through a lot to prepare for the next game. What is your preparation process like being an analyst?

We prepare throughout that week. We talk about what the show will look like, what we want to talk about. Everybody has a chance to make suggestions, and we just bounce ideas all around from Wednesday to Saturday and sometimes Sunday morning. We want to get everything right, and I think everyone takes pride in the preparation and that’s what makes it so easy to work with the cast and the producers. And we put on a good show. So we are very excited about this year. We had a good Super Bowl and we finished the season strong last year and we are just excited to be working again.

Have you had any role models on the TV side of things?

Not really. I think being with the people that I work with—Tony [Gonzalez], Charissa [Thompson], Coach [Dave Wannstedt] and Colin [Cowherd]—they help me get that personal feel and help me with my comfort level. We talk off camera just as much as we talk on camera. I kind of just learned from watching them. They have all been doing this a lot longer than me. I just do my job and play my role and I have fun doing it. Everyone comes with great insight which makes it easier. I don't really have a true role model, but I do watch guys like Marcellus Wiley, Emmanuel Acho, Skip Bayless with Shannon Sharpe, and I am a big fan of Stephen A. Smith and Jalen Rose and all those guys and my peers. Guys that I played with or played against that are doing TV, we all try to help each other.

More Than a Vote is very personal to you. Can you explain your role in the partnership?

It was something that was a necessity in my life, and we did everything in our power to create this campaign and I was thankful that LeBron allowed me to be a part of it. I was one of the guys that is an example. I didn't understand or know that I could vote, and that was something that throughout this whole process, that I was more ashamed of than anything because I didn't do the due diligence of finding out that I can vote and it took until this campaign [to find out] that I did have rights to vote. I became educated and I learned that I can feel good about going out and can vote for the rest of my life. It is something I am trying to teach my kids so they could understand how this country was built. So it is bigger than just voting, it’s about influence and helping people understand that your vote really does count. I am excited to have my voting rights back.

Why is it so important to have someone like LeBron James be a part of this?

I think this is something LeBron truly wants to do. No one asked him to do it. He has a strong team around him that stays together and we have a lot of backing and a lot of people following what we are doing.

You recently joined Roc Nation for management. How did this partnership come about?

The Roc Nation experience is cool. Everybody over there was super cool and understood everything that I have been through. They see I still got something left in the tank and they see the value I can bring to the company and not only what I can do for them but what we can do together. The synergy was there, and I couldn't pick a better group. They are an established company and Jay-Z has always been someone I’ve looked up to even though I didn't really know him growing up. His music was really significant in my life. It helped me get through seasons and years, and that is saying a lot.

Michael Vick in a Falcons uniform

I feel like we are in the golden age of the Black quarterback. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are two of the best in the league, and they just got PAID. You have Russell Wilson. Cam Newton is starting for the Patriots. And then you have someone that is basically Michael Vick 2.0 in Lamar Jackson. A lot of these guys consider you a mentor and someone that they looked up to growing up. What do you think about the current guys leading the charge in the NFL?

I think these guys came out of college already knowing what they wanted out of the game of football. The fact that they patterned their game after me in some degree made it easier for me to talk to them and communicate without having to tell them too much. Because you can’t tell another quarterback how to play his game—you can only advise him on certain things. I had conversations with Pat when I was at Kansas City training camp and I spent time with Deshaun last year and I have spent time with Lamar. I don’t have to say much. Those guys are taking it to another level, and I have a lot of respect for their game and their respect for the game of football.

What’s next for Michael Vick? What else do you want to accomplish?

One day down the road I want to be a general manager. I have a lot of work to do. I have to work alongside a lot of people and educate myself. But I still want to chase a championship. It is something I want in my life. Maybe when I am 47, 48 or 50—maybe I can become a general manager and help build a team. That’s my passion. I think that would be the last dance for me. Right now, I am enjoying life an analyst and trying to be the best that I can be. Just trying to give great insight into the game and helping people understand it. I have fun doing it with my peers. We will see what is next but I am excited about what the future holds.