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October 8, 2015

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


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 Students can register for the clinic at a discounted rate of $75 through the dealership.

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