Story by Malik Smith

Daily Press

It's no secret that Michael Vick is one of the most polarizing figures in sports. His exciting style of play and quick rise to fame brought many fans to love everything about him. His personal shortcomings gave others reasons to hate him.

Vick went from a good high school football player at Warwick High school to a college football star at Virginia Tech. His success in college carried over into the NFL and he became a superstar. He signed lucrative deals with Nike and a 100 milion dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Vick's popularity was a blessing and a curse as far as how he was covered in the media. Especially during his federal dog fighting case.

"It's amazing how much interest he generates, positive and negative" said Ashley Fox who covered Vick with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When Vick's dog fighting scandal became public it immediately became a topic that media outlets across the country became obsessed with. Every columnist had an opinion and every beat writer dug deeper and deeper into his background and the culture behind his crime.

As more information came out about the case, it became evident that Vick was heavily involved. Before Vick was even sentenced to prison animal rights groups and animal lovers had found him guilty in the court of public opinion.

Once he was sentenced to prison Vick had to serve 23 months for financing a dog fighting ring and transporting dogs across state lines. These facts were publicized, but were heavily overshadowed by his actions and the culture of dog fighting.

Vick left prison with no job, very little money because his contract had been voided and a reputation that was split.

Vick ended up getting a second chance in the NFL despite criticism from many Animal rights groups. Angry fans with signs like: "Vick's an Eagle hide your Beagle", were outside of the Eagle's facility protesting. However, He still received support from thousands of fans including those in Atlanta.

Vick made the team and sat behind Donavan McNabb his first season. His second season he started after an injury to Kevin Kolb and took the Eagles to the playoffs. He also won Comeback player of the year in the process.

Vick's relationship with the media and the public fluctuates often now. He says he doesn't like to look back at it now, but he feels the coverage was fair."I Never look at the media and say people are trying to treat me different from anybody else," Vick said.

Vick has done a lot in the community to repair his negative perception in the media including speaking to youth about dog fighting and other evils he has come across.

His focus now is to go back to being judged by what he does on the field and not off the field.

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