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In the latest NFL Pro Bowl voting results unveiled by the league, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick surprisingly tops the list with 729,838 fan votes. Trailing Vick by nearly 39,000 votes is Colts QB Peyton Manning, with Patriots QB Tom Brady checking in at the third spot. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers round out the rest of the top five.
Now obviously, Vick’s play has more than earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl. Even if you hate the guy, you can hardly deny that. But there’s a bit more to this vote than that, now isn’t there? There were a great many people out there who loved Michael Vick even while he was being sent to prison for killing dogs. They never stopped adoring him, and I’m guessing that they were more than happy to stuff the ballot box once he resurfaced and began playing well again. There’s also the fact that Vick’s style of play just naturally draws in more fans. Perhaps Vick, the man, isn’t popular, but his theatrics on the field certainly are.
People unwilling to forgive Vick may fear that this vote and Vick’s ascendancy will serve to only further diminish his crimes, but I disagree. As I said earlier this week, I don’t think Vick will ever shake the stigma of his past, no matter how many games he wins or Pro Bowls he goes to. There are too many people out there determined to make sure he doesn’t ever forget it. And frankly, the longer he stays in the NFL spotlight, the MORE his crimes will be discussed on an endless loop. Is it okay for him to succeed? Should we really be cheering? That debate has no real answer, and as long as Vick is garnering attention, we’ll keep on having it.