In 2007 the retired quarterback, who’s now an analyst on Fox Sports, was slapped with felony charges for running a dogfighting ring. It was something he spent 18 months in federal prison for and was suspended from the NFL.
Vick returned to the league in 2009 and apologized repeatedly. He also worked with the Humane Society on animal rights. And in 2015, he met with officials in Pennsylvania for a bill that allows police officers to break into cars to rescue cats and dogs.
One of the first petitions created against Vick being a Pro Bowl captain came from a woman named Joanna Lind, who said the NFL failed to take “responsibility for the behavior of it’s current and former players” by working with the 39-year-old.
Other petitions to remove Vick were also formed. But at least one person created a petition and asked people to stand with the former Atlanta Falcon.
“I and many others are tired of these racists disguised as animal lovers trying to control this man’s every move,” read the petition, started by a man named Roger Duncan. “If they could, they would deny him the ability to simply breathe.”
Today, Lind’s petition has over 600,000 signatures and Duncan’s far less with a little over 24,000. But regardless, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he supports Vick being in the Pro Bowl.
“Over the last what is it? Nine years or so? I have supported Michael, and I think his recognition of a mistake that he made. He’s paid a heavy price for that,” said Goodell at a press conference that took place after the NFL’s owner’s meeting.
“He’s worked aggressively with the Humane Society and other institutions to deal with animal rights and to make sure people don’t make the same mistake he made. And I admire that,” added the commissioner.
“I know that there are people out there who will never forgive him. He knows that. But I think this is a young man that has really taken his life in a positive direction, and we support that. So I don’t anticipate any change, no,” said Goodell.
The Pro Bowl will be held in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 26.