Fox Sports president stands by Vick
Network adds former QB to NFL pregame show
Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said he absolutely and completely understands the backlash over the network’s hiring of former quarterback Michael Vick, though Shanks added it was “the right thing to do.”
Vick will be a studio analyst for Fox NFL Kickoff and will make appearances on Fox Sports 1 shows, as first reported by USA TODAY Sports on Friday. A Change.org petition asking Shanks to reconsider the hire because organizers “do not believe that Michael Vick is repentant” for his part in a dogfighting ring more than a decade ago had gathered more than 60,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We absolutely and completely understand,” Shanks told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s not a different reaction than what we had prepared ourselves for internally at Fox Sports. ... We talk about what happened then. What type of person is Mike now? What debt has he paid to society? We still believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Vick served 18 months in pris- on after his 2007 conviction related to a dogfighting operation on his property in Virginia that led to his release from the Atlanta Falcons. Vick returned to the NFL in 2009 with the Philadelphia Eagles and finished his 13season career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015.
As evidenced by the petition and through social media reaction, many thought that Vick’s ties to dogfighting should pre- clude him from having a broadcast career.
“Clearly, we knew that there was potential to be a reaction,” Shanks said. “We spent a lot of time with Mike. We looked at his experience playing in the league after he paid his debt to society.
“We looked at his interaction and support he’s gotten from people like Andy Reid at the Chiefs and (former NFL coach) Tony Dungy. Over the last 10 or 11 years, not only has he paid his debt to society but he’s done everything a person who has made a terrible mistake like that can do. We felt it was the right person at the right time for us.”
Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, who is among the new faces on CBS’ The NFL Today pregame show, said Vick has paid his debt.
“If you don’t like Michael Vick, fine,” Burleson said. “If you don’t want to watch Michael Vick, fine. But if you’re asking him to pay after he spent time in prison for a crime, then how much more work does he have to do? Does he have to pay for it the rest of his life?
“Society says when somebody commits a crime, they go to jail, and once they get out, they have served their time. I have a problem with people who have a problem with Vick having a job.”