Vick's Raleigh appearance draws protests

Posted February 4, 2014

NFL quarterback Michael Vick spoke at New Horizons Academy in Durham Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, urging students not to get involved in dog fighting.

— Whether Michael Vick's rise, fall and return to professional football is a story of redemption or of unpardonable acts is subject to debate this week in Raleigh.

Vick, the keynote speaker Feb. 12 at the annual Greater Raleigh Sports Council's Evening of Champions, served almost two years in federal prison on charges related to a dog-fighting ring run out of a property he owned in Virginia. Since completing his sentence, Vick returned to the spotlight as the quarterback of the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles and has worked with the Humane Society of the United States. In speaking engagements, he has expressed remorse for his role in dog fighting and has become an advocate for the humane treatment of animals.

Vernessa Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Raleigh Chamber, said that organizers recognized Vick might be a controversial choice. 

"Our decision to have Michael Vick as our speaker at the Evening of Champions was made knowing that some would disagree, but our steering committee felt that his career story offers our guests an informative perspective about the excesses of fame and money in celebrity culture. His presentation includes how he made very significant mistakes and how he has learned from the consequences of his actions and subsequently changed his life. His conviction and subsequent reinstatement to the NFL were one of the biggest stories in sports. We believe he has an important message to share," Roberts said.

Among those questioning the Chamber's choice were pit bull advocacy organizations including The Positive Pit Bull, Southern Belle Pit Bull Rescue, South of the Bully Pit Bull Rescue and Merit Pit Bull Foundation. The groups' petition on, asking that Vick's invitation be revoked, has reached almost 70,000 signatures.

"To elevate someone like Michael Vick, as if HE is a champion, and have him speak to young, impressionable athletes is ludicrous," the petitioners wrote. "Please tell the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Sports Council that having Michael Vick attend and speak at their Evening of Champions event is unacceptable in our community and to replace him immediately with a champion who is representative of what we value in a sports hero."  

On their Facebook page, organizers of The Positive Pit Bull noted that an on-site protest was planned at the event, but that they would not be taking part. 

Capitol Broadcasting, the parent company of WRAL, has been a longtime sponsor of the Evening of Champions. That sponsorship continues in order to highlight the excellence of local athletes. As a sponsor, CBC has gotten feedback about Vick’s appearance both positive and negative and has shared those comments with the Chamber.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • rewy11 Feb 11, 2014

    Vick got drafted, made millions, got caught dog fighting and went to jail. When he got out of jail he went back to making millions. Hmmm so who's the real winner here?

  • gailmroper Feb 7, 2014

    What Vick did was wrong. He can't take it back. All he can do is repent in the best way that he knows how. What about you?

  • pappy1 Feb 5, 2014

    Really love those who say "he has paid his debt - he should be forgiven." Not a chance. Folks who kill helpless animals for thrills are less human than the animals they butchered.

  • ccsmith1902 Feb 5, 2014

    Vick is a psychopath, and I would love to know who was crazy enough to invite him to the event.

  • wasone Feb 5, 2014

    I wonder how much Vick charged the "Evening of Champions" to come and speak?

  • Mon Account Feb 5, 2014

    This guy is not a champion of anything in life. He should not be honored for doing time. This "oops, got caught and lost my money and went to jail, but I'm a role model" is a horrible message.

    Raleigh is continuing to lose its mind. At least 70,000 sane people are speaking up.

  • computer trainer Feb 5, 2014

    Feel free to sign the petition:

    I also plan on being at the PNC arena to protest the fact that this abuser is speaking.

  • shelbylynn72 Feb 5, 2014

    I am amazed that there is not ONE better role model/athlete in the state of North Carolina much less the United States. Overcoming adversity? PLEASE. Vick's PA firm most definately earned their paychecks...wonder how much they "contributed" back to the Chamber (of which they are ACTIVE members). Cronisym at its best!

  • Billy the Kid Feb 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    There is making mistakes and then doing what Vick did. They are not the same.

  • HereswhatIthink Feb 5, 2014

    The only remorse he might feel is that he got caught!!!! Otherwise he would still be stangling, beating and fighting dogs! What an absolute disgrace. Surely there are far more worthy people than him. I want even call him a "man" because he is so beneath that title as well. He will never, ever repay all the torture and suffering those innocent dogs felt and endured at his nasty hands. I can't begin to use the words I would like to use to describe him. A "champion" he is most definitely not!