Sports Illustrated

BLACKSBURG, VA - There’s a saying that goes around the football world. It says that Fran Tarkenton invented the running quarterback role, Randall Cunningham revolutionized it, and Michael Vick perfected it.

Truth be told, Michael Vick is one of the most electrifying athletes the world has ever seen. Before he was able to make NFL defenders look inferior, the speedy QB showcased his skills at Virginia Tech. Vick, known for his breathtaking speed and unique ability to scramble out of the pocket, put Virginia Tech football on the map in his redshirt-freshman season, as he led the Hokies to an 11-0 regular season record and a spot in the 1999 national championship against Florida State.

In 2001, Vick was drafted No. 1 overall in the by the Atlanta Falcons, making him the second player in Virginia Tech history to go first overall in the draft (Bruce Smith, 1995). Earlier this summer, the university announced its plans to honor Vick for his valiant efforts on the football field by inducting him into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. However, the announcement didn’t come without fierce opposition. Less than two weeks after the 2017 Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame class was named, over 90,000 people had signed online petitions to try and keep the former QB out.

This backlash of course, was due to the superstar’s 2007 dogfighting conviction. Cyril Clarke, the dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, which is based on Virginia Tech’s campus, made it clear that he didn’t support the school’s decision. “The college unequivocally opposes honoring an individual whose past actions contradict our values and the cornerstone of our mission,” Clarke said in a statement regarding the issue. “Over the course of several days, I have communicated with President Timothy Sands and other campus administrators to express our disappointment and opposition to this decision. I continue to be in conversations with the president regarding the issue.”

Despite the uproar, the university backed its decision to induct the former athlete. “Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports Hall of Fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete – who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university,” Virginia Tech officials said in a statement. “We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision. In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports Hall of Fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction and time he served for his crime were also considered, and it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives. This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted. The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.”

Although Virginia Tech seems to be standing firm in its decision to induct the controversial quarterback, it is clear that the members of the university’s Hall of Fame voting committee didn’t exactly rush to elect Vick. The former quarterback has been eligible since 2011. In that timespan, 35 former athletes, including 12 former football players, have been inducted by the university.

Undoubtedly, the members of the committee were fully aware that the decision would be met with petitions and protests, but ultimately, they felt the same thing that many Hokie fans did – that the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame is incomplete without the school’s most talented football player of all-time in it.

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