PITTSBURGH -- In his first meeting with a Pittsburgh media mob, Michael Vick said all the right things -- about the town, the organization, his new teammates, his repentance, and even just about good old-fashioned football.
Yes, Vick's perfect football response was to a question about his potential role in two-point packages.
"I think we have enough athletes that we don’t have to do that," said Vick. "There is just talent everywhere. The last thing I want to do is disrupt their timing with Ben. If Coach Haley comes up with something, then I am all for it. I am all about helping the team. But I understand that importance of rhythm and the significance of it. I think as of right now, I just have to prepare to be the best backup I can be, and I will be that."
The guy gets it.
He knows this team needs a backup, has needed a backup, a veteran, a healthy veteran backup with skills.
Vick showed in Tuesday's practice that he still has his skills.
He still moves well, and probably very well if necessary. And he still has that rocket of an arm.
"It was obviously above the line," Tomlin said of Vick's first practice Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "He can throw the football and put it anywhere on the field. I stated that before the workout."
Tomlin was right. It looks as if Vick's become the next-day version of Byron Leftwich and/or Charlie Batch: the savvy vet who'll help Ben Roethlisberger in any way he can to get a ring.
A ring just might make those neverending questions about his past go away, or at least fade.
The man who served 21 months in prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring faced those questions again Wednesday.
Q: What do you think of the media attention?
MV: "I am used to it. I am used to this. It is nothing different from what I went through in New York and in Philadelphia. It is what it is. I am a professional. I play for a professional football team. It’s what I expect."
Q: Did you expect this much of an uproar from fans?
MV: "I try to stay away from that because all it does is make you develop mixed emotions about how you feel towards people. I don’t want to be emotionally disturbed right now. I want to be in a great place. I am enjoying playing football, and I am going to continue to just try to make my teammates proud and this organization proud, and be the best football player I can be."
Q: How do you rationalize the crimes you committed?
MV: "I just try to make it right. I think going through what I went through and what transpired, the best thing to do was to try to make amends for what I did. I can’t take it back. The only thing I can do is try to influence masses of kids from going down the same road I went down. That’s why I work with the Humane Society, and work diligently in affecting a lot of kids' lives, and saving a lot of animals. We have had a lot of progress. We’ve been able to change some laws and do some great things that I am very proud of. I never thought I’d be doing that."
Q: Are you doing that here in Pittsburgh?
MV: "I will. It’s coming. Right now, I just have to get acclimated. I am pretty sure there is a plan getting put together [by my publicist] as of right now."
Q: Have you grown accustomed to the attention and questions?
MV: "I think you have to look at the right I am trying to do. You can’t take back what happened in the past. Everybody is different when they are 20 than when they are 35. So you can’t fault people for some of the mistakes that they make in their life. If that was the case, you would have a lot of people who wouldn’t get a second chance and wouldn’t be successful. You have people like that changing lives and changing the world. It is what it is. I just try to move on from it, stay positive and keep building on what I’ve built for the last five, six years."
These are important questions, and Vick answered them honestly.
He also praised his teammates, praised the Rooneys, Tomlin, Roethlisberger, marveled at the offensive firepower, and paid homage to the ghosts of hard-hitters past.
"I couldn’t have landed in a better place," he said. "What I have heard from everybody in this locker room and organization is that there is only one goal, to get a ring. We are going to try to get it however we can get it. I walk in and see six Lombardi trophies. It’s motivating. So I understand why this team is always motivated the way it is, and why Mike Tomlin pushes this team the way he does. I am just glad to be a part of it. It’s something that I needed in my life. I feel like I am in a great position and in a great place."
He's been here before. He's won, lost and tied. Overall he's 2-1-1 against the Steelers with 9 TD passes and 2 interceptions, a solid passer rating of 95.9, a yards-per-carry average of 4.8, and even a reception.
"It was always tough playing against Pittsburgh," Vick said. "You always had to bring your A-game and be in the right mindset. You are going to get hit. It’s just a different attitude when you come to Heinz Field. I am just glad to be a part of that now. I am very thankful. And I am blessed."