When he signed with the New York Jets, quarterback Michael Vick said he appreciates the fans who "accept me for who I am and what I've become, not for what I've done. I think right now my past is irrelevant." Not to everyone, apparently.
Vick's past -- specifically, his ties to an illegal dog-fighting ring -- has sparked a Change.org petition that wants him banned from the team's training camp in Cortland, N.Y. The petition, addressed to SUNY Cortland president Eric J. Bitterbaum, had more than 1,500 signatures as of Monday night.
In 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge and served 19 months in prison.
The petition shows a picture of a maimed dog and provides graphic detail of the crimes committed by the Bad Newz Kennels, bankrolled by Vick. It claims Vick is a "sociopath," adding, "We MUST send the message that we won't be party to the torture of animals by conveniently forgetting what he has done. If we welcome Vick onto our campus, we are complicit in his crimes."
The Jets declined to comment on the petition, referring to previous statements by Vick and owner Woody Johnson.
"We welcome Michael Vick to our team," Johnson said recently. "We fully understand the gravity of some of his past actions, believe that he has paid his debt to society and taken advantage of his second chance.”
Technically, the Jets haven't announced their plans to return to Cortland, although Johnson indicated at the Super Bowl that the team probably will train there for the fifth time. Vick signed a one-year, $4 million contract to compete with Geno Smith for the starting job.