- Phil Sheridan, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick's controversial appearance at an event in Raleigh, N.C., will not happen after all.
Vick was scheduled to appear at the Evening of Champions, an annual event sponsored by the Raleigh Sports Council, on Wednesday night. The event was postponed until Feb. 27 because of a snowstorm forecast for the area.
The Sports Council said on its website that Vick was not available for the rescheduled date: "We had hoped that our special guest interviewee, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, would be available on the 27th but we have been advised that he can't be in Raleigh on that date due to a previously scheduled engagement."
A pit bull advocacy group created an online petition calling for Vick's appearance to be canceled. The petition on change.org had over 74,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. A Facebook page calling for a protest of the event had over 1,500 people listed as planning to attend. The page was updated Tuesday, canceling the protest.
Vick appearances have drawn protests before, leading a few of them to be canceled. The timing on this one was especially complicated for Vick because he is about to become a free agent. An NFL team weighing whether to sign him as a potential starter would already have to factor in the reaction of its fans. A fresh controversy could serve to dissuade potential employers from considering Vick.
Vick, 33, has been with the Eagles for five years. He was the No. 1 quarterback from 2010 until being unseated by Nick Foles during the 2013 season. Vick has said he wants to pursue a starting job elsewhere in the NFL when his contract expires next month.