Former quarterback Michael Vick returns to the Georgia Dome for the Falcons final game at the stadium. He was welcomed back with open arms and enthusiastic cheers. Vick rode onto the field in a convertible wearing a silver Falcons hat and a black No. 7 jersey and the crowd went wild.
Before the game started Vick said “There are a lot of people who forgave me. It gives me another opportunity to show a different side of myself. I’m just thankful I have a lot of supporters.”
Not everyone was thrilled about Vick’s return. There was an online campaign urging the Falcons to rescind the invitation because of the dog fighting case the sent Vicks to jail for two years. The petition, on change.org, was signed by 29,000 people telling the Falcons to revoke Vick’s return.
“By inviting Michael Vick to participate in a ceremony on Sunday, the Falcons are honoring a convicted dogfighter who profited from cruelty to animals for years,” the petition said.
Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons, had a different view.
“Mike obviously has a great history with us, a great history with the franchise, an important player in our history,” Blank said. “So we wanted him to attend today and we’re glad he did. Michael represented an important part of my ownership period, an important part of our franchise. I think our fans, based on the response I saw and felt, I think our fans were excited to have him as well.”
Vick was one of the most talented players in the franchise’s history until his reputation was tarnished by criminal activities revealed in his personal life in 2007.
Despite criticism he received roaring applause from the sold out stadium of 70, 835 fans during the ceremony honoring the last regular season game at the Dome where the team has played for 25 years.
After a decade Atlanta fans have moved to forgiveness.
“When I first got the call that they wanted to honor the dome legends, I was just thankful I got the call,” Vick said. “The dome holds a special place in my heart. This is where I started my career.”