Change.org, an online hub for leftist internet activism, has launched a petition for Atlanta Falcons to rescind their invitation to former Falcon Michael Vick to attend this weekend’s game. The Falcons had invited Vick and others so the team could honor them during a halftime ceremony.
However, Change.org launched an effort to prevent that by gathering thousands of online signatures. The group had a goal of 10,000 signatures, and as of Friday evening they boasted more than 16,000 signatures.
Change.org’s petition states, “By inviting Michael Vick to participate in a ceremony on Sunday, the Falcons are honoring a convicted dogfighter who profited from cruelty to animals for years. Please sign this petition and let the Falcons know that NFL fans do not support Vick and do not condone his actions.”
Vick went to prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to felony charges of helping to run a dogfighting ring. Vick ended up serving 21 months in federal prison. Yet, Vick did come back and play seven more years in the league, during which he threw for over 10,000 yards, more than 60 touchdowns, and made it to his fourth Pro Bowl in 2010.
Vick committed a heartless and cruel crime, no one seriously disputes that. However, if any player in NFL history has genuinely worked to redeem himself its Michael Vick. The former NFL quarterback even went before Congress in 2011 to advocate for anti-dog fighting legislation, and toured with Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society, traveling to churches and schools to teach kids about the evils of dog fighting.
Could Vick have done this purely for PR purposes, with no real sense of remorse or heartfelt meaning behind it? Absolutely, but before anyone goes too far down that road consider that Michael Vick was not only already on an NFL roster in 2011 when he went before Congress, he had just had the best year of his career to date, in addition to making the Pro Bowl.
In other words, in a league where winning remains the ultimate deodorant, in which great play on the field can and will almost always erase any wrongdoing off the field, Michael Vick had total job security in 2011. He didn’t need to go before Congress and advocate for anything to save his job. Eagles fans at the time, stayed far too busy buying Vick jerseys and dreaming of future Super Bowls to care deeply about what Vick had done.
The argument that Vick lobbied against dog fighting out of pure self-interest can easily be turned around. Vick did the crime, but he also did the time plus a lot more. Time for Change.org and their petitioners to let it go.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn