The only thing more surprising than Michael Vick backing out on an interview with Oprah Winfrey was his intention to do the show in the first place.
Vick, or someone close to the Philadelphia Eagles all-pro quarterback, finally realized that an appearance on Oprah would outrage those who don’t forgive him for the dog-fighting and dog-killing scandal that cost him two years of freedom and untold millions of dollars. Doing Oprah would have put the dog-abuse story back in the headlines after Vick’s superior play in 2010 had done so much to put the emphasis back on football.
Football reporters and fans have given Vick a second chance. He was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and made a franchise player. But Oprah’s audience represents the mainstream—that’s not Vick’s fan base.
Owners of dogs rescued from Vick’s property in Virginia reportedly had flooded Oprah’s Harpo Studios with calls and e-mails demanding to be heard on the show. Vick got the message.
“After careful consideration, I will need to postpone the taping of the Oprah Winfrey interview,” Vick said in a statement. “I admire and respect Oprah and hope to be able to participate in an interview in the future.”
He shouldn’t, unless there’s no studio audience. Even if the interview took place in an empty studio, Vick surely would struggle to explain the unexplainable. He’s better off keeping a low profile during the off-season. During Super Bowl week in Arlington, Texas, where other stars talked football, a radio talk-show host confronted Vick about dog abuse. Then Dallas' mayor objected to a councilman awarding Vick the key to the city.
That’s the new normal for Vick. If he thinks the anger of critics will die down enough to bring him mainstream acceptance, then he’s barking up the wrong tree.
Cecil Harris is the author of three books, including Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.
Image: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images