Michael Vick returned to the Georgia Dome for the first time since the scandal that almost cost him his career.
The Atlanta Falcons won their final regular season game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome last night (January 1, 2017) and also honored several of their past star players.
The Georgia Dome has been home to the Atlanta Falcons since 1992, but it will soon be replaced a new stadium currently under construction. Since the game marked the end of an era, it was only fitting to invite several key players that had played under the Dome over the years and Michael Vick was the most highly anticipated return.
Despite an online campaign calling for the Falcons to revoke their invitation over a dogfighting case that sent Micahel Vick to prison for nearly two years, he received by far the loudest ovation from the sellout crowd of 70,835 during a ceremony honoring the final regular-season game at the team’s home of 25 years.
“There are a lot of people who forgave me,” Vick said before the game. “It gives me another opportunity to show a different side of myself. I’m just thankful I have a lot of supporters.”
Mike Vick rode onto the field in an open convertible, accompanied by former wide receiver Roddy White, to a huge ovation.
Vick himself even shared the moment online in a few emotional intagram posts:
Vick was the top overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, earned three Pro Bowl selections in six years with the team and guided Atlanta to the NFC championship game during the 2004 season. He was the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank received criticism for his decision to invite Vick back to the dome, but he stood by it. When asked about his choice, Blank stated:
“Well, Mike obviously has a great history with us, a great history with this franchise and he’s an important player in our history. We wanted him to attend today and we’re glad that he did attend. We had close to thirty players and coaches here today. Michael played an important part in my ownership period and an important part of the history of our franchise. He was thrilled to be here today and I think our fans, based on what I saw and felt, were excited to see him as well.”
VIDEO: Falcons Fans Embrace Mike Vick During Halftime 010117
What do you think Falcons fans? In order for this to happen, the Falcons would have to sign Vick to a ceremonial one-day contract. Vick expressed his desire to retire a Falcon on Dec. 12, and also revealed that he stays in touch with Falcons owner Arthur Blank. #RiseUp #Repost @falconsdaily #Falcons #AtlantaFalcons #MikeVick #MichaelVick #straightfromthea #atlien #atlanta
One thing’s for sure… Atlanta still LOVES Michael Vick!!!