Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick will remain an honorary captain at the NFL Pro Bowl next month, despite a very concentrated effort to keep that from happening.
According to CNN, last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the decision despite the over half a million signatures collected by a Change.org petition signed by more than 500,000 to bar him from serving as a captain, an honor that would allow him mentor players and coach from the sidelines.
READ MORE: Welcome back: Vick still rules in Atlanta
In 2007 the Vick, who was then quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was hit with felony charges for running a dogfighting ring, subsequently spending 18 months in federal prison and being suspended from the NFL. He was suspended from the league indefinitely until he was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, becoming starting quarterback with a six-year $100 million contract. He retired in 2017 after moving to the New York Jets and finally the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But Goodell noted that Vick has turned his life around in the decade since his conviction and deserves a second chance.
“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.”
READ MORE: Vick completes dogfighting sentence
The commissioner also pointed out how the player turned Fox Sports analyst has become an animal rights advocate since his release from prison and in 2015, even met with Pennsylvania lawmakers to champion a bill that gives police officers the right to break into cars to free dogs and cats.
The Washington Post also reports that a year prior, he also supported a bill later signed into law that made it illegal to attend an organized animal fight.
“I know there are people out there who will never forgive him,” Goodell conceded. “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.”
READ MORE: Why Seattle Seahawks passed on Colin Kaepernick