New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick went back to his hometown on Saturday in Newport News, Virginia for a football camp. A crowd of people gathered to welcome the 34-year-old athlete.
James Johnson, a club director who has known Vick since he was a kid said, “I used to tell Mike even when things are going bad, the people down home, they still in your corner. There might be some days where you get booed, but you won’t get booed by nobody down here.”
Vick was incarcerated for more than 500 days for running a dogfighting ring and lying about it. He was released in 2009. Since then, he has been trying to redeem himself. He helped build a football field in a Philadelphia neighborhood, and launched Christmas and Thanksgiving food drives. He also participates in anti-dog fighting campaigns.
Michael Vick tries to explain his fascination with dogs
Though dog fighting is in the football player’s past, some are still protesting. One of the protesters, Rhonda Spataro said, “Michael Vick didn’t just fight dogs. He tortured, drowned, electrocuted, and beat them to death.”
— Maya Lau (@mayalau) July 12, 2014
On Saturday, there were two groups outside The Strand Theatre where the Michael Vick Comedy Explosion took place. On one side were the protesters, and on the other were Vick’s supporters who organized a "Forgiveness Rally".
Michael Vick's protesters and supporters
Bo Spataro, a protester, said that he’s not yet ready to forgive Vick. “I’ve seen nothing from him that shows a deal of remorse. I know he might’ve went to jail and paid some fines, but it doesn’t look like he’s sorry for anything other than getting caught,” he said.
Comedian Robert Powell defended the football star and said that his dog fighting days are over and all the bad things that happened are in the past. “It’s time to let it go,” he said.
Amidst all the controversy, Vick has accepted that his career will never be only about football. Many people still hate him for his past, and there is even a petition seeking to ban him from the Jets training camp.
“How can I try to win over everybody in this world? Even if I didn’t go through what I went through, some people probably still wouldn’t like me for whatever reason,” said Vick.
Despite Vick's past, he's still seen as a hero by many. Little boys were chanting his name over and over on Saturday, and his fans approached him to sign their jerseys and shirts.
— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) July 13, 2014
Image via YouTube