Mike Vick speaks at Pennsylvania Capitol to support pets in cars bill

PITTSBURGH -- This isn't about repaying debt to society or fulfilling public relations obligations.

The way Mike Vick sees it, this is who he is now. He's an animal advocate.

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback drove three hours from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in support of PA House Bill 1516, or the pets in cars bill, giving police authority to rescue dogs and cats from cars due to unsafe temperatures.

Vick spoke on the House floor for about five minutes, and he plans to be back soon to see this through.

"You can save a lot of animals' lives," Vick told ESPN on Tuesday. "I've done a lot, but that doesn't mean I can't continue to be an advocate to help educate. The majority of people probably don't even know this is even being pushed through."

Vick was accompanied by children from a local school. The kids asked the quarterback about life in the NFL. Vick told them about that, and he also explained how, while incarcerated, he set personal goals to make a difference beyond football.

Vick pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring. He served almost two years in prison and has played seven NFL seasons since: five with the Philadelphia Eagles, one with the New York Jets and one with the Steelers, who signed him as a backup in August.

Vick lobbied to the Democratic caucus, and now he awaits word on the bill's future.

Vick sees his influence as empowering.

"I just learned I can walk into the House [of Representatives] and be influential," Vick said. "They see where my heart is. They better get used to me."

Vick's presence in the spotlight still elicits a response from dog advocates. In late August, an advocacy group protested Vick's signing outside the Steelers' team facility. One sign read, "Jail time is not enough. Ban Vick from football."

Vick hopes his local work quells any uneasiness, but he tries not to worry about that. Spinning his past forward in a positive way brings balance to his life, he said. "I don't do it to please anybody else," Vick said. "I do it for the people I can help, including myself."