IN THE OLD DAYS, there was the talk-show apology tour, a trip to Oprah's couch or to The Tonight Show. Then came the reality era, with fare like Dancing with the Stars geared toward rehabbing reputations through rumba. These days, it seems that if you are looking to change your image with the public, grab a mike and take a seat at the analysts' desk on Fox's FS1.
Last week the network added a resident to its sports rehab house, announcing it had hired former NFL quarterback Michael Vick as an analyst. Vick has long been a fascinating subject as an athlete, but he is also a polarizing figure: He was jailed for 19 months in 2007 for his involvement in a dogfighting ring and recently suggested on FS1 that Colin Kaepernick would be wise to cut his hair as part of his pitch to work as a quarterback. (Vick has apologized repeatedly for both.)
Television executives say they generally care about one thing above all: Will the personality be compelling television? Fox believes Vick will. But will the public agree?
Of course, no athlete has used TV better than Alex Rodriguez. Suspended for the entire 2014 MLB season for using performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez has been a revelation for Fox as an analyst. His reinvention has drawn plenty of interest in the media. Last month Rodriguez was on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter, which read: "The Redemption Will Be Televised." Asked how he was able to rehab his image, Rodriguez told The Reporter: "You have to own your s---."
It remains to be seen if that will be enough for the public to tune in to Vick.