Michael Vick will remain Pro Bowl captain despite backlash, NFL commissioner says

National Sports

Petitions circulating online had called for the ex-quarterback's removal.

FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick stands on the sidelines before NFL football game between the Falcons and the New Orleans Saints in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

ATLANTA — Saying Michael Vick has “paid a heavy price for his past mistakes” and “has really taken his life in a positive direction,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the former Falcon will remain a Pro Bowl captain.

A backlash emerged when Vick was named an honorary captain, with animal advocates and others asking the NFL to change its decision over Vick’s history with dogfighting. 

At least three petitions circulated online, together gathering more than 1.2 million signatures.

Others – particularly longtime fans in Atlanta – have supported the ex-quarterback, saying he’s paid his debt to society and worked hard to make amends.

Goodell echoed that argument in comments made at the NFL owners meeting, NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk reported.

“I have supported Michael, and I think his recognition of a mistake that he made. He’s paid a heavy price for that. He has been accountable for it. 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,” the NFL commissioner said. “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,” he added.

That would seem to settle the matter. As a captain, Vick’s duties will involve selecting from among the Pro Bowl players to form one of the two teams in the game.

The Pro Bowl is slated for Jan. 26 in Orlando.

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