ABC News' Sarah Parnass reports:
On Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick endorsed new legislation that would make both observing and enabling a minor to watch animal fighting events criminal offenses.
Congress is the latest stop on Vick’s redemption tour, begun in the wake of his 18 months in prison after pleading guilty on dogfighting charges in 2007.
“Throughout my time in prison, I told myself that I wanted to be a part of the solution, not the problem,” Vick said in a hushed voice. “Dog fighting is inhumane, it's illegal, it's a federal felony and it's a felony in every state now. We have an opportunity to create meaningful change.”
Though it was Vick’s first trip supporting legislation in Washington, D.C., it was not the first time his name had been thrown around the Capitol.
At the height of Vick’s infamy in 2007, then Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd compared dogfighters to the most serious of criminals on the Senate floor.
Back then Byrd “declared that he has seen one execution in his life — a man put to death in the electric chair. ‘It’s not a beautiful thing," he said. "I could say I could witness another one if it involves (long pause) this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic, business of training these vulnerable creatures to kill.’"
Today’s reception of Vick was much warmer. Congressman Jim Moran, D-Va., complimented Vick as being in “tremendous shape.”
“This is a story of redemption; it's a story of leadership,” Moran said. “It's a story of deciding to do good and making a really substantive, consequential difference in the lives of a whole lot of people and certainly among animals that otherwise would be mistreated. Michael's leading the way to get these animals adopted and treated properly.”
Eliza Larson contributed to this report.