Vick still feel­ing back­lash

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS -

Since his re­lease from prison in 2009, Michael Vick’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has taken place slowly and steadily. He apol­o­gized for his dog­fight­ing past and took up the cause of an­i­mal wel­fare. He has been wel­comed back into the NFL and onto tele­vi­sion sets.

But for many fans, the Pro Bowl ev­i­dently is a step too far. As of Thurs­day af­ter­noon, more than 500,000 peo­ple had signed a Change.org pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing that Vick be re­moved as an hon­orary cap­tain of the Pro Bowl in late Jan­uary. An­other pe­ti­tion, with more than 300,000 sig­na­tures, de­mands the same thing and yet an­other, which has more than 100,000 sig­na­tures, urges spon­sors to back out of the Pro Bowl un­til it drops Vick.

Dur­ing re­marks at the close of this week’s own­ers meet­ings out­side Dal­las, NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell weighed in, ex­press­ing his sup­port for Vick and sug­gest­ing that, de­spite the out­pour­ing, Vick’s sta­tus would not change.

“Over the last nine years or so, I’ve sup­ported Michael and his, I think, recog­ni­tion of the mis­take that he made,” Good­ell said. “He’s paid ev­ery price for that. He has been ac­count­able for it. He has worked ag­gres­sively with the Hu­mane So­ci­ety and other in­sti­tu­tions to deal with an­i­mal rights and to make sure peo­ple don’t make the same mis­take he made. And I ad­mire that. I know that there are peo­ple out there who will never for­give him. He knows that. But I think this is a young man that has re­ally taken his life in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion, and we sup­port that.”

“Just saw this on Face­book and was ab­so­lutely dis­gusted,” one poster, named Joanna Lind, wrote on the web­site af­ter see­ing the Pro Bowl an­nounce­ment. “When is the NFL go­ing to take any re­spon­si­bil­ity for the be­hav­ior of its cur­rent and for­mer play­ers? To honor a man who had zero re­gard for an­i­mals is un­ac­cept­able, and I would like your help to make sure he is not hon­ored at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl.”

For­mer play­ers charged: The Jus­tice Depart­ment charged 10 for­mer NFL play­ers with de­fraud­ing a health care pro­gram for re­tired play­ers of nearly $4 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. The Depart­ment also said it in­tends to file charges against two other play­ers as well.

Af­ter an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Jus­tice Depart­ment filed charges Wed­nes­day morn­ing in the Eastern Dis­trict of Ken­tucky against Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Ta­mar­ick Vanover, Ce­an­dris Brown, James But­ler, Fred­er­ick Ben­nett, Correll Buckhalter, Etric Pruitt, Clin­ton Por­tis and Car­los Rogers.

The gov­ern­ment also in­tends to charge for­mer NFL wide re­ceivers Joe Horn and Reche Cald­well with con­spir­acy to com­mit health care fraud.

The play­ers al­legedly sub­mit­ted false claims to the Gene Up­shaw NFL Player Health Re­im­burse­ment Ac­count Plan for re­im­burse­ment for med­i­cal equip­ment — such as hy­per­baric cham­bers, cryother­apy ma­chines and ul­tra­sound ma­chines — cost­ing be­tween $40,000 and $50,000. The play­ers charged re­cruited oth­ers into their scheme by of­fer­ing to sub­mit false claims in ex­change for “kick­backs” and bribes that ranged up $10,000, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ments. The play­ers fab­ri­cated doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing in­voices and pre­scrip­tions, to ex­e­cute the plan, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ments.

Ex­tra points: Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones was lim­ited in prac­tice for the sec­ond straight work­out, in­creas­ing the like­li­hood two-time Su­per Bowl Eli Man­ning will start this week­end. Jones missed Mon­day night’s loss in Philadel­phia with a sprained right an­kle. “Just like any in­jury, it’s a process to come back,” said Shur­mur, who said he could wait un­til game day to choose his starter . ... The Ea­gles placed WR Al­shon Jef­fery on in­jured re­serve with a foot in­jury af­ter he left Mon­day night’s game against the Giants. WR Robert Davis was called up from the prac­tice squad . ... Jaguars QB coach Scott Mi­lanovich re­turned to the CFL as head coach of the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos. Mi­lanovich suc­ceeds Ja­son Maas, who was fired af­ter the Eski­mos fin­ished fourth in the West Di­vi­sion last sea­son with an 8-10 record . ... The Lions put DT Da’Shawn Hand on IR with an an­kle in­jury.

CUR­TIS COMPTON/TNS

For­mer quar­ter­back Michael Vick is a hon­orary cap­tain for the 2020 Pro Bowl.

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