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April 18, 2014

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Dealership learns that Michael Vick, in town for youth event, remains a lightning rod

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Gregan Wingert

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, right, poses with a fan at Findlay Toyota in Henderson Friday, May 26, 2012.

Updated Saturday, May 26, 2012 | 12:55 p.m.

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Michael Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback, is one of the NFL’s most intriguing stars. His involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring and subsequent incarceration make him a divisive figure.

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Michael Vick fallout

An act of goodwill has enraged Findlay Toyota’s Facebook audience to a point where the car dealership’s marketing department shut down its promotional page. The target of the backlash is Philadelphia Eagle Michael Vick, who met with fans Friday night at the Henderson dealership.

The infamous 31-year-old NFL quarterback — in town for a youth football camp — continues to face scrutiny for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. In 2007, he pleaded guilty and served a 21-month sentence.

During a kickoff for the camp, the soft-spoken Vick greeted fans, shook hands and autographed Eagles’ memorabilia and footballs between posing for snapshots.

“People have grown to forgive me and give me a second chance,” said Vick, acknowledging that some haven’t dropped the issue.

Commenters on Findlay Toyota’s Facebook page called Vick a “dog killer” and threatened to beat him up. Others posted that they planned to boycott the car dealership for sponsoring Vick for promotional and charity events, including a May 29 youth football clinic at the Henderson International School.

In response, the dealership began deleting comments and ultimately shut down the page Friday night.

“We’re just trying to do something right for the kids and people just forget about that,” said Stephanie Bernas, marketing manager and social media director for Findlay Toyota.

Vick and other former NFL players will host the camp that gives eighth- through 12th-graders the chance to learn the game from pro athletes. High school students will have a chance to be instructed by Jim Fassel, former head coach of the New York Giants and current coach of the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives. A separate noncontact clinic will also be held that day for youths from third to seventh grade.

“Just showing them how to play the game,” said Vick, adding that he enjoys working with the kids.

The camp helps students grow, Vick added. “We give them an opportunity to dream.”

“We sponsor the camp and him to come here,” said Rick Glenn, marketing director of the dealership. This is the second year Findlay Toyota has brought Vick to participate in the camp.

“I love Las Vegas, it’s a great place,” said Vick, adding that he’s more inclined to do the camp here because of his affinity for the city.

For more registration information, visit findlaytoyotaevents.com. Students can register for the clinic at a discounted rate of $75 through the dealership.

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  1. I'm no Mike Vick apologist...

    But the irony of a community that treats it's animals like DOG DOO calling HIM out for his animal cruelty is rich.

    I remember reading that Las Vegas puts down more animals per-day than New York Freaking City.

    During this years-long foreclosure fiasco, people have left their 'beloved pets' inside abandoned houses as they've departed, chained up OUTSIDE as they've departed, and much worse.

    Everyone here seems to think they need a HUGE, BARKING DOG. Or 2 or 3 HUGE BARKING DOGS.
    They leave them out day and night to bark, bark, bark... and SUFFER.

    (Of course the selfish bastid's that own these HUGE, BARKING DOGS take the Marmadukes for walks and leave their huge piles of crap WHEREVER THEY LAND.)

    Yeah, Las Vegas, you tell Michael Vick...
    your hands are clean.

  2. So Findlay Toyota thought bringing Vick in would help sales? Who runs the PR department?? When I first read about it i had to think twice like WHAT THE #@%^
    I guess their new slogan should be " We will do anything, and i mean anything to sell you a car"

  3. what exactly do most of you want vick to do? what he did was wrong by todays standards in most (but not all) communities in the usa. its against the law but so are alot of things still going on. he served the time given to him, had everything he had taken away, and had to start over.

    i havent heard of him getting in any more trouble, and im sure he is watched like a hawk by many people. hes done work for animal rights and works with kids.

    so, what i want to know from all of the naysayers, is "what should he do now? what would you do if you were him? and dont say crawl back under a rock or something stupid like that...

    i think he was wrong for what he did, i dont see how any body could engage in that, but he did, he paid the price given to him by us..and now what, lets hear it...what should he do???

  4. He tries to do something good and people bag on him. We didnt hear anything about him being in the club or making it rain, but still people want to bag on him. Not cool.

  5. @ james higgins - What should he do? Let's start with a SINCERE apology and TRUE remorse for what he did. He had no choice but to serve the time, but I never saw a single time he acted like he was actually sorry for what he did, but only that he got caught doing it.

  6. Sad response from a city. Vick served his time. Leave him alone. And I fault Findlay for being stupid.

  7. Spelling errors in paragraph 2. Need a copy editor? ;)

  8. I am a dog lover. I have five dogs and two cats who live in the house and they are treated quite well. I despise any cruelty or neglect that animals have to endure. But Mr. Vick had completed his prison term. And the fines he paid, along with the money lost when his $100 million contrct with the Atlanta Falcons was voided, lead me to believe that he has paid a higher price for animal cruelty than anyone in American history.
    I think it's time to give a second chance to someone who has paid his debt to society. Isn't that the American way?

  9. Michael Vick has an agent and, possibly, a public relations consultant who shop him around as part of his rehabilitation as a public person. A major football personality with no baggage doesn't come cheap unless he's a selfless Tim Tebow. Michael Vick probably does come cheap or even free. If the publicity folks at Findlay weighed the options of low-cost star versus controversy count the comments, 10 against, 10 sorta for and five neutralish. If that carries over to the bigger population then Findlay has potential new customers across the sales floor. The ten against, not potential customers anyway.