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August 28, 2017

Michael Vick draws backlash, petition after landing gig at FOX Sports

Animal welfare activists renew efforts to sideline former Eagle

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick can't shake his past involvement in the infamous Virginia dog fighting ring that once landed him in federal prison.

Now retired, Vick, 37, was picked up last Friday as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports, where he is slated to appear regularly on the network's pregame show. 

“Michael will be a huge addition to both Fox NFL Kickoff and our FS1 studio shows,” FOX Sports producer John Entz said in a release.Entz said. “He was obviously an outstanding player but we feel he has an incredibly bright future as an analyst. He has stayed close to the game and has many relationships with today’s current coaches and players. We feel he can bring a truly unique perspective that intrigues and engages our viewers.”

It didn't take long after Vick landed the job for his critics to denounce Fox Sports. A petition launched by Rally for Animals quickly racked up more than 40,000 signatures as the organization pushes for FOX Sports to cut ties with the four-time Pro Bowler and former Comeback Player of the Year.

While we believe in second chances and that convicted felons should be able to acquire gainful employment, we do not believe that Michael Vick is repentant and as such, he should not hold a position of influence ...

We believe that whatever it is within Michael Vick that made him capable of performing violent acts against innocent animals for entertainment and profit is not something that goes away. Call it evil, call it psychosis, call it what you will, but it is inherently woven into the fabric of his character.

In the months after Vick's release from prison, he pledged to play a role in youth engagement and committed to supporting animal welfare through a partnership with the Humane Society. The former Bad Newz Kennel, a 15-care property in Smithfield, has since been converted into an animal refuge and rehab center.

None of this has deterred Vick's many detractors, who continue to question whether his public amends were little more than the price of admission back into the NFL and a life of luxury, debts notwithstanding. 

Vick recently invited controversy after commenting on the situation surrounding Colin Kaepernick and political protests by NFL players. Dismissing the idea that Kaepernick has been tacitly blackballed by the league, Vick suggested a good start for the former 49er would be a haircut. He later apologized for those remarks.

In response to the FOX Sports hiring, Vick was cast by some on social media as a prime example of the NFL's hypocrisy concerning the difference between legal transgressions and political controversies that create issues for the brand. Others repeated the position that Kaepernick doesn't have a job because his play no longer justifies it. 

Vick has picked up numerous endorsement deals since he returned to the league with the Eagles in 2009. After spending this summer as a training camp coach for Andy Reid in Kansas City, Vick called the television opportunity a blessing. 

"To hop on and contribute to several of the FS1 studio shows and reunite with several former competitors during the week is icing on the cake," Vick said.