NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick urged high school students Tuesday in Connecticut to show kindness toward animals, adding to the string of appearances he has made since returning from a dogfighting conviction to become one of the NFL's most exciting players.
Vick has spoken at several schools since his release from federal prison in what has been described as an attempt to ensure some good comes out of his negative experience.
At Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Vick told an audience packed with students that he has matured since his involvement with the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting enterprise on his property in rural southeastern Virginia.
"I didn't really care what people felt about animals," Vick said in comments reported by the New Haven Register. "I didn't care about the welfare of animals."
Vick noted that animals have no choice when they are put into a ring. If you could ask a dog if it wants to fight, "do you think he'll say yeah?" Vick asked.
Vick was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting ring. He served 18 months in prison and two months of home confinement. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback was signed by the Eagles in August 2009, less than one month after his release, prompting an outcry from animal rights groups and animal-loving football fans.
Vick has made the most of his second chance in the NFL, leading Philadelphia to three consecutive wins, including Sunday night's 27-17 victory over the New York Giants at home.
Vick spoke about the dire consequences of dogfighting, and he said he's often reminded of his own role in the blood sport.
"Nowadays, every day my daughters ask me if we can get a dog. ... I can't get a dog for my kids," said Vick, who is barred from owning animals.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press