ATLANTA Controversial quarterback Michael Vick, who says he now is a Christian, announced plans to continue his national book tour despite an onslaught of threats.
He challenged protesters in an interview with USA Today: "Why would you continue to bash somebody who is trying to help make the world a better place?"
When Barnes & Noble announced plans to host Vick's book-signing, animal rights activists took to social media to protest the bookseller, Vick and his publisher, Worthy Publishing.
"I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals," wrote one person on Barnes & Noble's Facebook page. Threats like these eventually convinced Worthy to cancel the tour. The company reported the threats to the police.
"While we stand by Michael Vick's right to free speech and the retailers' right to free commerce, we cannot knowingly put anyone in harm's way," said Worthy's president Byron Williamson.
The company cancelled the tour March 11, but later Vick said he would press on. A Worthy spokesperson said the company will schedule additional dates around Vick's NFL schedule.
In "Finally Free," Vick's self-described "rags-to-riches story of redemption," he recounts his rise to fame as an Atlanta Falcons quarterback and then his fall of shame as the leader of a dogfighting ring. Dogfighting rings are illegal, and the dogs forced to fight usually face horrific abuse inside and outside the ring.
Vick's operation lasted for five years. He pleaded guilty in 2007 and served 21 months in prison and two months under house arrest. In Finally Free, he said he converted to Christianity during that time and started a mentoring relationship with former NFL coach Tony Dungy.
Vick now spends time publicizing his book, advocating for at-risk youth and supporting the Humane Society's "Pets for Life" campaign. Later this year, he will resume his quarterback position in a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
But six years later, his name draws ire from animal rights activists and others who doubt his sincerity. The Humane Society's Wayne Pacelle, the man who agreed to let Vick work with the organization on a campaign to combat dogfighting, admitted reservations in a 2009 blog post.
"I sat with the man, but I still don't know what's in his heart," Pacelle wrote. "He asked for an opportunity to help.... If he makes the most of it ... it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dogfighting. If he demonstrates a fleeting or superficial interest, then it will be his own failing, not ours."
In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick seemed to acknowledge only time and perseverance will silence his critics: "You gotta move forward," he told the newspaper. "I think the most important thing for me to do is to continue to stay positive and continue to do the right thing because that's what's going to make a difference."