Michael Vick, who knows a thing or two about trying to repair a public image, has some advice for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice as he deal with the aftermath of his domestic violence case.
Vick, who has been fighting a constant battle against public perception after his conviction on dogfighting charges in 2007, has become an animal rights advocate through the Humane Society. He pointed to that as an example of what Rice can do to gain back the public’s trust.
“You’ve got to continue to make amends,” Vick told nj.com. “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. 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.”
At a news conference last month to answer questions about the two-game suspension he received from the NFL as a result of the incident, Rice expressed his intentions to become an “ambassador” against domestic violence.
Vick said Rice must follow through on that pledge.
“I think the most important thing that you can do is to try to make amends for what you’ve done,” Vick told the website. “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.”
Vick spent 18 months in federal prison as a result of charges associated with dogfighting. He was reviled when he came back, and there was an outcry from animal rights groups when the Eagles signed him in August 2009. But Vick won over fans in Philadelphia and outside the city, too, with his performance on the field and his service in the community. He is now with the New York Jets, signing with the team this offseason.
Rice was arrested Feb. 15, after he allegedly struck then-fiancée Janay Palmer during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of an elevator. The couple since has married.
Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May.
Ravens fans have embraced Rice this preseason, despite the incident with his now-wife and the subsequent suspension.
In his first game since the incident, fans cheered for Rice when he was announced during pregame introductions, and they clapped again for him after his first run, a 6-yard gain. No boos were audible during either instance.
“That means the world to me,” Rice said after the preseason game against the 49ers on Aug. 8. “Everything I went through, I don’t take anything for granted anymore, especially going out there and playing in front of our fans. It’s a lot of respect that I have to go out there and earn because of the position that I put myself in.”
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