ATLANTA — Michael Vick is again facing backlash over his past with dogfighting, as petitions calling for the NFL to remove him as an honorary Pro Bowl captain circulate online and gain hundreds of thousands of signatures.
But the former Falcons quarterback can still count on large portions of Atlanta staying in his corner.
At least one group, the New Order National Human Rights Organization, is holding a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in support of Vick.
"We want to show him that we still have his back in 2019," a release by the group says.
And anecdotal evidence collected by 11Alive indicates a base of support for the ex-quarterback. In an informal online poll that received more than 260 responses, 72 percent of respondents said Vick should not be removed.
On Facebook, viewers have voiced their support in large numbers. An original story last week about the petitions got 921 comments on the social media site - mostly in support.
"He who without sin let him cast the first stone," wrote Marcia L. Hall-Hargrove. "This man served time and others continue to play and get paid with the turn of the head. Please stop!!!"
Monica Minter wrote Vick "has served his time for the bull$%#!"
"He was the BEST quarterback Atlanta has had," she said.
In a Morning Rush ATL post from Tuesday asking if he should be removed, as the set of petitions continue to gain steam, most comments were again in support.
"I don't like what he did but he has paid his due and we as humans need to be more forgiving and allow him to heal," Terri Y. Carter wrote. "People make mistakes. We all do. I sure have, haven't you?"
Some, of course, disagree.
"Definitely needs to be rejected for his past treatment of animals," wrote P Dennis Querin.
The petitions, as of Tuesday, collectively have hundreds of thousands of signatures and are nearing their total goals.
One, posted to change.org, "Do not allow Michael Vick to be honored in the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl" has nearly 490,000 signatures toward a goal of 500,000. Another on change.org, "NFL: Stop Michael Vick from being Pro Bowl Captain," has 227,000 toward 300,000. And a third on animalvictory.org has more than 367,000 toward a goal of 500,000.
But Atlanta is still the place where, when he returned with the Eagles for his first game back in the city in 2009, he heard chants of "We want Vick! We want Vick!"