PITTSBURGH (KDKA/CNN) — Michael Vick will serve as an honorary captain at the Pro Bowl despite a petition that called for his removal because of his 2007 dogfighting conviction.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the news on Thursday.
More than 560,000 people signed a Change.org petition to bar Vick from serving as a captain, a role that would see him mentor players and coach from the sidelines.
“Just saw this on Facebook and was absolutely disgusted,” the woman who started the petition wrote on the petition page, referring to a social media post about Vick’s inclusion. “When is the NFL going to take any responsibility for the behavior of it’s current and former players? 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.”
But Goodell said Vick’s made progress since his 2007 conviction for illegal dogfighting.
“Over the last, what is it, nine years or so, we have supported Michael in his recognition of the mistake he made,” he said at a press conference. “He’s paid a heavy price for that. He’s been accountable for it.”
Goodell said Vick has worked to secure animal rights since his release from prison. In 2015, he met with lawmakers in Pennsylvania to support a bill that gave police officers the right to break into cars to free dogs and cats.
Vick served 18 months in federal prison after admitting that he participated in a dogfighting ring.
Vick returned to the NFL in 2009 and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring in 2017.
The Pro Bowl takes place on Jan. 26 in Orlando.
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