NFL celebrates Michael Vick as Pro Bowl captain in continued whitewashing of his dogfighting past

Michael Vick was named a Pro Bowl captain alongside three NFL icons not associated with torturing and murdering dogs. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The NFL announced on Monday that Michael Vick will be among the four legends captains for the 2020 Pro Bowl.

Former Washington cornerback Darrell Green, Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith and Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis are the others.

Aside from Green, Smith and Davis all being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one of these captains is not like the others.

They didn’t organize a dogfighting ring that saw dogs tortured, electrocuted, drowned, hanged, shot and beaten to death, according to Department of Agriculture officials who investigated Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in 2007.

Another move to revamp Vick’s image

Vick being officially honored by the NFL is the latest step in his public rehabilitation process that saw him make a return to the NFL after serving 18 months in federal prison for his conviction for bankrolling the dogfighting ring.

He joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 after his release from prison and played seven more seasons in the NFL. He has since worked as an NFL analyst for Fox Sports.

Should Vick be rewarded?

Many rightfully argue that Vick served his time and is due the rights of any other citizen to pursue his private endeavors.

Those arguments generally ignore that he did not serve time for charges directly related to animal cruelty. And the conversations around Vick’s rehab often leave out the vile details of what actually went on in his dogfighting ring.

Regardless, Vick did serve his time and is due the freedoms of any ex-convict who’s paid his or her debt to society. And he’s made the most of his second shot, earning nearly $60 million in NFL salary after returning to the league.

This is a celebration of Vick

But allowing a man his rights and freedoms and celebrating him are two different things. And the NFL, by honoring him next to beloved franchise icons Green, Smith and Davis, is indeed celebrating Vick.

It’s the next step in the continued whitewashing of Vick’s depraved behavior.

As the league continues to struggle with accepting Colin Kaepernick in its circles because he used the platform of the national anthem to make a stand for social justice and racial inequality, it raises more questions about what exactly is going on in the heads of NFL decision-makers.

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