(WCMH) — Thousands have signed several online petitions demanding the NFL remove former NFL quarterback Michael Vick from the list of captains at the 2020 Pro Bowl due to his previous criminal history with animal abuse.
The petitions were created after Vick was named last month as one of four Pro Bowl Legends captains in the January games between the best players in the NFC and AFC, according to multiple media reports.
One of the petitions on Change.org has already received more than 170,000 signatures.
The creator of the petition who used the name Joanna Lind said she is “absolutely disgusted” the NFL named Vick one of the four “legends captains” at the 2020 Pro Bowl.
The post includes a portion of text from The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption that details Vick’s role in abusing dogs.
“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,” Lind wrote.
Vick, a former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets, was sentenced by a federal judge in Richmond, Virginia, to 23 months in prison for bankrolling a dogfighting operation and killing dogs that underperformed in December 2007.
He served 19 months in a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.
While in prison, Vick developed a relationship with the Humane Society of the United States, described as the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, according to USAToday.
The organization later allowed Vick to participate in its anti-dogfighting campaign.
Vick was one of the featured speakers at the 10th annual Men’s Rally in the Valley, a Christian event, at Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio in April.
He said he wanted to spread that message of forgiveness to hundreds, even as people showed up in protest of his speech.
“If things don’t work out, you face some adversity, things don’t go the way you want to go, don’t deviate from the plan. Stay strong, believe in yourself,” he said.
However, many who have created and signed the petitions on Change.org said Vick does not deserve to be honored by the NFL and urges sponsors not to support businesses that support him.
Aladdin Nation’s petition on the website received more than 148,000 signatures.
The petition said Vick does not deserve to be a captain at the Pro Bowl and mentions Disney, the parent company of ABC and ESPN, that traditionally televises the game and other Pro Bowl events.
“Mike Vick does not deserve the honor of being Pro Bowl Captain. He is a convicted felon and a known animal abuser, is this who we want our children to look up to? Disney, how could you condone this?? There are so many players that have made amazing contribution to society, however Michael Vick is not one of them,” wrote Aladdin Nation.
Another petition created by Brande Wood asks sponsors to stop supporting “these businesses” until Vick is replaced as one of the captains.
“Michael Vick was named a Pro Bowl captain alongside three NFL icons not associated with torturing and slaughtering dogs. He should NOT be celebrated. He should NOT be on television. He should NOT be honored by the NFL,” Wood wrote.
Wood continued: “The NFL, Disney, ESPN, the city of Orlando, and Camping World Stadium should not be condoning the torture and murder of dogs by allowing Michael Vick to be involved in the Pro Bowl – or any other professional sport. Please do not buy any products, merchandise, vacations, tickets, shows, etc. until they replace him.”
Wood said it is ” beyond baffling why they would possibly choose Michael Vick” when there are other deserving NFL players who are “worthy” of the honor and have not been convicted of abusing and murdering animals.