Updated: Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010, 6:49 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010, 6:33 AM EST
New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - NFL star Michael Vick and TV legend and comedian Bill Cosby spent some time in New Haven today at separate events.
Sent away to prison for 18 months for running a dog fighting ring, Vick got a second chance. Now he's making the most of it on and off the field making sure the children who cheer for him don't follow exactly in his footsteps.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick spoke to students at Hillhouse High and Wilbur Cross High as part of his community service following a prison term for running a dog fighting ring.
Vick made two appearances with Wayne Pacelle, the President of the U.S. Humane Society, who happens to be from New Haven. ( Click here to read : Vick's participation in The HSUS' anti-dogfighting program).
Guarded by a wall of New Haven police officers, as protective as the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line, Michael Vick made his way out of Wilbur Cross High school looking like an NFL MVP.
By most accounts he leads the MVP race right now, after getting his life -- both on and off the field -- back on track.
Vick says he's on a mission now to help more animals than he hurt after spending 18 months in prison for dog fighting. His dramatic drop from superstar status to federal convict gives him a rare kind of credibility with kids.
“You know, I sit here today with a great opportunity to be in the position that I'm in now. To be able to come up and preach this message to these kids in which, I think, they would be more entailed to listen to the message now, due to the fact of where I've come from."
His message: Animal cruelty is wrong, even if it's common or cool in your neighborhood. The kids who heard it say Vick seems to be sincere.
"In my opinion, I feel like he really did mean what he said and this is a healing process for him,” said Wilbur Cross junior, Caleb Levy.
"Looking for the bright side of things and staying positive in life, and I really liked what he did,” commented Wilbur Cross senior, Pat Wellington. “It hit home. I liked it."
Coming out of Hillhouse High School this morning, News 8’s Ted Koppy asked Vick if his message is more likely to be heard now that he's once again an NFL star.
"I think now kids will be more inclined to listen to my message, more inclined to doing the right things, and making rational decisions,” Vick replied.
With Michael Vick back at the top of his game, it is a compelling story of redemption. But he was very quick to point out that his fall from grace three years ago was a result of his own actions.