Animal rights activists are slamming the NFL for naming Michael Vick, convicted for his role in a dogfighting ring, as a captain for its upcoming Pro Bowl Legends.
The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback financed a dogfighting and gambling operation that took place on a property he owned in Virginia in 2007, which saw pit bulls kill and maim each other, as well as other pet dogs.
Vick served a federal prison sentence and returned to football before retiring, but just last week was named by his former league to the 2020 Pro Bowl Bowl Legends team.
The NFL lauded his career on the gridiron.
There was no mention of his criminal past.
— NFL (@NFL) November 25, 2019
But animal lovers don’t want people to forget it.
“The news is a slap in the face to dog lovers who are appalled that this former dog-fighter is being honored,” Wilmington, N.C.-based Animal Victory said in a statement.
“Out of the hundreds of professional football athletes who have led upstanding lives, the NFL has chosen a convicted dog-fighting organizer as someone who they want to honor,” the group added.
It already has more than 90,000 signatures on its online petition, which will be presented to the NFL.
“Michael Vick should not be placed in a position of honor – the dogs who were tortured and killed deserve to be remembered and honored. Not the man who played a part in their suffering,” it reads.
Another petition titled “Make NFL Replace Michael Vick in Pro Bowl” is also racking up electronic signatures by the thousands.
“The NFL, Disney, ESPN, the city of Orlando, and Camping World Stadium should not be condoning the torture and murder of dogs by allowing Michael Vick to be involved in the Pro Bowl – or any other professional sport,” reads the petition on Change.org. “Please do not buy any products, merchandise, vacations, tickets, shows, etc. until they replace him.”
Yet another petition on Change.org has almost reached its goal of 75,000 signatures against Vick’s involvement in the Pro Bowl Legends.
“When is the NFL going to take any responsibility for the behavior of its current and former players?” asks petition starter Joanna Lind. “To honor a man who had zero regard for animals is unacceptable and I would like your help to make sure he is NOT honored at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl.”
Vick was convicted on a conspiracy charge related to dogfighting and sentenced to 23 months in a minimum-security federal prison camp. And once he was out in 2009, he returned to the NFL playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
He’s currently on analyst on Fox Sports.
And, he has worked with a humane society to redeem himself.
just wondering if your sponsors are cool with having a dog abuser/murderer honored as a captain?
— Taylor Hollingsworth (@taylornholl) December 2, 2019
Michael Vick named Pro Bowl captain by NFL
Disgraceful. He tortured and killed innocent dogs. https://t.co/PT7VQYWete
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 2, 2019
— Scott Clements (@BrScottClements) November 26, 2019
— MizpahMoon ☀️🌜🌟🌛☀️ (@EkbMary) December 1, 2019
Since the announcement, Vick has also been busy on social media — selling his new line of clothing and autographed jerseys.
Atlanta! I will be at @TheAthletesFootUSA at Atlantic Station this Friday for the launch of my new apparel line!
— Michael Vick (@MichaelVick) November 27, 2019
— Michael Vick (@MichaelVick) November 28, 2019
Photos Michael Vick/Twitter