Retired NFL quarterback Michael Vick has been selected to be an honorary captain of the Pro Bowl, which will take place on Jan. 26 in Orlando, Florida.
But a whole bunch of people are against it, and hundreds of thousands have already signed petitions in hopes the NFL will change its mind about Vick.
In 2007 Vick and three others were hit with felony charges for running a dogfighting ring. He would be punished with 18 months in federal prison and a suspension from the NFL over the charges.
Vick returned to the league in 2009 after filing for bankruptcy, and he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers and retired as an Atlanta Falcon in 2017. These days, Vick is an NFL analyst on Fox Sports.
But despite paying his debt to society and working for animal rights with the Humane Society of the United States, people are still outraged about Vick being a Pro Bowl captain.
One woman named Joanna Lind is the creator of one petition, which already has over 500,000 signatures.
“When is the NFL going to take any responsibility for the behavior of it’s current and former players?” the petition reads. “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.”
Another petition, started by a woman named Brande Wood, has over 93,000 signatures.
“Please tell sponsors no more,” her petition reads. “Stop giving money or support to these businesses until they replace Michael Vick.”
But someone named Roger Duncan created his own petition and asked people to support Vick being a Pro Bowl captain. Duncan also called the people complaining about Vick “racist detractors.”
“I and many others are tired of these racists disguised as animal lovers trying to control this man’s every move,” the petition reads. “Enough is enough. The NFL should in no way shape or form bend the knee to these people. Stand with Vick as I am.”
“It’s time for certain members of society to stand and face the mirror and admit what they’re hate for this man is truly based on, it’s more than just a dog,” Duncan continued. “It’s the hate that this country was founded on for a race of people that simply want to live in peace and not constantly be harassed for wanting to simply be.”
He then accused Vick’s detractors of selective outrage and not making a fuss when white NFL players did wrong and kept working with the NFL.
“There are many white athletes that have done a lot worse, Ben Roethlisberger, is one that comes to mind that these same petitioners still stand and cheer for,” wrote Duncan. “He is a man that was accused of sexual assault not once but twice and he has never been vilified the way that Vick has been and continues to be.”
Underneath Duncan’s petition, which has over 11,000 signatures, there were a couple of people who left comments.
“The value of a black man’s life is just as if not more important than a dog,” one person wrote.
Vick has kept quiet about the backlash so far.