Vick: Maybe the truth would have led to 'smack on the wrist'

Michael Vick remembers vividly the day he began his 19-month federal prison sentence on Nov. 19, 2007.

In an autobiography out in July, excerpts of which were published by the Philadelphia Enquirer Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback says his 3-year-old daughter was "crying like a monster was trying to get her" as he entered the courthouse in Richmond, Va.

"I told everybody that I loved them and I walked up to the two officers who were waiting for me," Vick writes. "When I walked myself in, they started handcuffing me right there on the spot. They put the cuffs on my hands and put the cuffs on my legs.

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"At that moment, my freedom was gone."

"Michael Vick: Finally Free," co-authored by Charles Chandler and Brett Honeycutt, will arrive in stores on July 27.

The book will cover the Vick's childhood, his early football career and his rise to stardom with the Atlanta Falcons. He also discusses his prison stay after he pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges, and touches on his signing with the Eagles in 2009 and the resurrection of his NFL career.

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, who mentored Vick upon his release from prison, wrote the foreword. In it, he says: "Finally Free tells an amazing story. It's not pretty, but it's real. If you're like me -- if you've ever done something in your life you wish you could take back, it will encourage you to learn that we serve a God of second chances and live in a country of second chances."

Chandler believes the Vick he worked with every week during the 2010 NFL season was not the same one he encountered periodically as a writer for the Charlotte Observer.

"I think he's very different now," Chandler said. "There's a brightness about him. It's still Michael Dwayne Vick, he's still the person by that name, but I'm a big believer that people can change."

In the book, Vick writes: "Looking back, I can see that my propensity for trying to lie my way out of trouble only made my consequences more severe."

Among those Vick lied to about his involvement in the dogfighting operation were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his lawyer, Billy Martin.

"When the dogfighting allegation surfaced, my lawyer told me, 'If you were involved, you need to tell me you were involved.' That's when it was on the state rather than the federal level. I kept telling him, 'No, no, I wasn't involved, no, no.' The whole time they were building the case, my lawyer was saying 'no' but he was seeing all this evidence saying 'yes.' If I had just told the truth, maybe I would've received a smack on the wrist instead of a lengthy sentence.

"So now that I think about it, I believe it was the Lord. It was God saying, 'Kid, I gave you a chance to get this thing right.' It was like, 'Carry yourself to jail.' I know He didn't say it like that, but it was like, 'Go on. You need to do some time. You need to learn a lesson.'

"He gave me a chance. He gave me three months -- April through July -- to go to all these people and say, 'Look, I was wrong,' and to get the correct advice, and to use it correctly. But I didn't do it."

Vick made the most of his second chance, taking over the Eagles' quarterback job last season and posting career highs in passer rating (100.2), passing yards (3,018) and touchdown passes (21). He received NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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