Roger Goodell: Michael Vick to serve as Pro Bowl captain despite petitions

Dec. 12 (UPI) — Despite online petitions calling for his removal over his 2007 dog fighting conviction, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick will serve as one of the league’s honorary Pro Bowl captains this year.

Online petitions calling for Vick to be barred from the 2020 Pro Bowl have received more than 1.2 million signatures across multiple websites, including one petition that garnered more than 570,000 supporters.

Despite those pleas, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Wednesday at the league’s quarterly ownership meetings that he doesn’t plan to remove Vick from the event, saying he has made progress since the conviction.

“Over the last, what is it, nine years or so, we have supported Michael in his recognition of the mistake he made,” Goodell said. “He’s paid a heavy price for that. He’s been accountable for it.

“I know there are people out there who will never forgive him. He knows that. But I think this is a young man who’s really taken his life in a positive direction, and we support that, so I don’t anticipate any change, no.”

Vick served 18 months in federal prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting operation. The NFL suspended him indefinitely until the Philadelphia Eagles signed him in August 2009 after he served his sentence.

Goodell said Vick, who retired from football in 2017, has been involved in animal rights issues since his release from prison. In 2015, Vick met with Pennsylvania lawmakers to support a bill that allowed police officers the right to break into cars to free dogs and cats.

The year before, Vick supported a bill later signed into law that made it illegal to attend an organized animal fight, according to the Washington Post. He has also worked with the Humane Society and other institutions to speak out against animal cruelty.

Vick will serve alongside co-captains Terrell Davis, Bruce Smith and Darrell Green at the 2020 Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.