Falcons welcome back Michael Vick, and expect more of this (podcast added)

January 1, 2017, Atlanta - Former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (7) greets fans at the Georgia Dome during the NFL football game against the Saints in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, January 1, 2017. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick greets fans at the Georgia Dome during halftime ceremonies Sunday at the Georgia Dome. (David Barnes/dbarnes@ajc.com)

Some are never going to let go of what Michael Vick did — to the dogs, to the Falcons’ franchise, to this city’s sports fans. But it’s long since passed the time that everybody needs to move on.

Vick, who united Atlanta’s sports fans, regardless of race and social class, like nobody else, only to then divide them, returned to the Georgia Dome Sunday for the Falcons’ final regular season game against New Orleans. He was among several former Falcons who were brought back to commemorate the team’s final regular season game in the Dome before it’s imploded. But of course he drew more attention than anybody else, as evidenced by the fact he was the only one the team carved out pre-game media access for (lasting six minutes).

Podcast link added:

This was Vick’s first time back in the Dome since 2011 when he played quarterback for Philadelphia, the team he signed with after his prison sentence for funding and operating — and mostly lying about — a dog-fighting operation in his home state of Virginia. But a lot of time has passed since then. Vick served his time and has handled himself with class and humility since.

When asked what he would say to the fans who haven’t forgiven him, Vick said, “I think it’s so important in your life — you have to forgive. I’m just thankful for the people, a lot if people, here in this organization and in this city. I come and go all the time through the Atlanta airport. A lot of people have forgiven me and given me an opportunity to show a different side of myself. I’m just thankful I have  a lot of support and that’s all I can ask for, and I appreciate those people with the utmost humility.”

Doubt him if you want. I believe he has changed.

What happened Sunday was significant. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said several times in recent years that he has forgiven Vick and moved on. But for Blank to invited Vick back to the building is the most overt symbol of that forgiveness.

This might be the first in a series of Vick-Falcons photo ops. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him return and officially retire as a Falcon. That would mean signing a one-day contract and then retiring in ceremonies. It would further the healing process.

More from Vick:

• On his return: “The last time I was here I was on the opposing team. Those are great memories as well but today is a different feel. When I first got the call they wanted to honor the old legends and have the guys come back, I was just thankful I got the call and my name was in the mix. This Dome holds a special place in my heart. This is where I started my career. It’s not where I finished it. But I have some very fond memories, and the teams that I was on we did some great things.”

• On his favorite two or three memories in the Georgia Dome:  “The play against Carolina in 2004 when I dove into the end zone and I got the touchdown (that led to a 34-31 win) that really put us in position  to go to the playoffs. My first game, playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers when I was just a rookie. My first snap I remember how nervous I was. Going through a lot my second year in 2002, I wasn’t really playing my best and then we got it turned around and got on a winning streak and we were able to make the playoffs that year. We had  a lot of great memories.”

• More reflecting: “Sometimes I look back on my carer and I wish I could recreate all of those scenarios, doing a lot of those things again and maybe doing a lot of things different so we could win some of those games. But those days were spectacular and I was glad we were able to kick-start it. The future is bright.”

On Matt Ryan: “Matt has just taken his game to another level. Over the last three or four years he’s been the consummate teammate, the best player on the field, the leader on the field. You can tell he’s in total control. This team goes as he goes.”

MORE: Never mind fade vs. Saints, Falcons look like Super Bowl team

Subscribe to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast with Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. All episodes can be downloaded and heard on iTunes or via WSBRadio.com. New episodes every Monday and Thursday.

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Reader Comments 0

172 comments
Liz Shows
Liz Shows

Leopards don't change their spots,this tool threw his kids pets into the fighting ring,their own pets!!!!

Ruby Cooper
Ruby Cooper

Think he deserves second chance\U0001f4f2served his sentence !

rationally
rationally

The excitement Vick brought to Atlanta when he first entered the league is unsurpassed. But I will never attend a game where he is present and I'm strongly considering canceling my season tickets for such ignorant stance on the Falcons part!!

Robert Baker
Robert Baker

Should have never gotten rid of Him in the first place,probably would have won 2 Superbowls by now.Got rid of Brett Frave also. 2 great Q B's .

Nancy McCormick Bauer
Nancy McCormick Bauer

Did any of you read Mr. Vick's own testimony regarding what he did to those dogs, with his own hands?? He is a sick, perverted pos. And he should not be rewarded and revered for his heinous behavior. EVER.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Seriously? This guy had flashes of talent, but was never a championship QB. After his jail term, he said and did the things necessary to get back into the NFL and the money. And sadly the NFL and the public bought his act. But again, he failed as a championship QB. What he is....is a convicted Animal Abuser and alleged STD Spreader. Intelligent people have no use for this POS.

VJ Little
VJ Little

DO NOT ALLOW HIM TO RETIRE AS A FALCON

Christy Simpson
Christy Simpson

Goodwill got all of my team spirit items. The Falcons just lost a life long fan. I care more about animals than a sport. Disgusted with Arthur Blank but then again, he has always been about \U0001f4b0

Kordrey D Weems
Kordrey D Weems

Sad state of affairs when people care more for animals than humans. And if you are so naive to believe Vick was the only one, you're a superficial idiot. People are ralibg and killing and are welcomed back into society. I guarantee some of you self gratifying pukes have secrets in yr history that nobody knows about other than you and God. But the bible warns to be careful when you judgeothers because you'll be judged with the same hardness

Janice Montgomery
Janice Montgomery

I DON'T LIKE VICK AND I DON'T LIKE THE FALCONS SO I DON'T CARE ! LET THE DOG KILLER & THE DIRTY BIRDS WALLOW IN MUD TOGETHER !!!!

Rebecca Theresa Anding
Rebecca Theresa Anding

Stop giving time to this loser. Really, AJC?? The majority of Atlanta think he is a scumbag (which he IS) and he IS a killer, and an abuser, and really......most of us wish he would just disappear.

Rhonda Weiss
Rhonda Weiss

Most presidents aren't liked ...get over it

Nancy Woodard
Nancy Woodard

We must forgive in order to be forgiven. He has paid for his crime and deserves a chance.

TideDawg
TideDawg

He paid his dues and served his time. Forgiveness doesn't change the past but it can mold the future. He definitely doesn't deserve a hero's welcome back, but he deserves the chance to prove he knows he was wrong and he deserves the chance to prove it.

Candy Mckinnon
Candy Mckinnon

I believe he has changed also. Give him a chance

Anna Epps
Anna Epps

The man committed a crime and was punished. It's been years since this happened and it's time to let it go. He has learned his lesson.

Ebenezer Ebluz
Ebenezer Ebluz

Funny how people get outraged over animals still waiting on justice and equality for HUMAN RIGHT'S!

Debra B Jones
Debra B Jones

Still, white folk fight dogs and roosters but nothing is said! This country has NEVER been great and won't be until ALL citizens are treated equally!!!

Scott Howell
Scott Howell

Can't have a debate without pulling the race card.....

Antionette Mckenney
Antionette Mckenney

Omg!!! Get over it already the man has paid his debt to society. It's people out here doing far worst things than this man has done and hasn't paid for their sins yet. Including some of these people that are still judging. What is he supposed to do pay for the rest of his life for something he did years ago. For all of the people that still have a problem with him let's open your closets and see what falls out \U0001f633

Alan Burstein
Alan Burstein

Michael Vick deserves a bullet in the head. The NFL has become the bottom of the entertainment food chain at so many levels (which is why viewership is down 20%.) We won't watch football at my home anymore nor do we purchase products made by their sponsors.

Eileen Warren Coonrad
Eileen Warren Coonrad

He's a monster and always will be, along with the rapists and other bullies- white, black, red, green, yellow- don't care what color you are- you harm another living creature- you are a monster rather you throw money at it or not! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Karl Lopez
Karl Lopez

I like the old vick! I loved watching him play. #quitcryingboutacurr \U0001f415

Elaine Daprano
Elaine Daprano

Glad I don't care about the pro football business.

Anthony Staton
Anthony Staton

Vick did his time for his crime now let him plsy. See how his health n arm is.

John Everette
John Everette

To all those pointing fingers, ONE QUESTION, ARE YOU PERFECT? ...DIDN'T THINK SO, THEREFORE, SHUT UP!

Cora Talton
Cora Talton

Changed from what.? He was young and down here right now they are still fighting dog's,but some are white.you never here about that,some are black and poor you might here about cop's busting up a dog fighting ring.maybe.he rich and had the nerve to be black,fighting dog's,i dare him.and you can be white and rape a baby and get time served.

Samantha Smith
Samantha Smith

You folks going to miss me with this ish .. you can't seem to forgive Vick but you can forgive a Lil preppy white boy who drives drunk and kills 4... He gets diagnosed with AFFLUENZA and goes to rehab... then skips the country... then you have the White millionaire who molests his own daughter and serves less than 5 months... then you got the Stanford preppy white kid who rapes another student and serves less than three months in the county... then there are the white preps who sexually assaults a disabled black student and gets no time...and let's not forget the orange man you elected president... NOW TELL ME AGAIN WHY VICK SHOULDN'T GET ANOTHER CHANCE

Michael Basse Hagood
Michael Basse Hagood

Now the curse has been broken maybe y'all can win a super bowl....Humans over animals

Joanne Gaines
Joanne Gaines

Leave him alone! Worry about your next president of the free world. Free is kind of up in the air!

Stephen Holland
Stephen Holland

Oh gosh. Please stop...before you accidently make any sense.

LisaWalker
LisaWalker

How you think a psychopath that enjoyed forcing dogs to inflict grievous injury and death on each other has changed his ways is like thinking Charles Mason should get out of jail because he has learned his lesson. It's part of your DNA if you enjoy inflicting pain and in his case earning money from it, please don't fall for him being sorry. The only thing he's sorry for is being caught.



Albert Smith
Albert Smith

If he has,nt changed there is always a prison cell waiting just for him .