Michael Vick gets key to Dallas

Updated: February 8, 2011, 9:06 AM ET
ESPNDallas.com

Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway gave the key to the city to Michael Vick, the quarterback for the rival Philadelphia Eagles, causing an uproar among animal rights activists Saturday.

In 2007, Vick was convicted of a felony related to a dogfighting ring and served 19 months in prison.

"The message and the kids are far greater than all this response about, 'Why give him the key to the city?'" Caraway told ESPNDallas Monday afternoon. "He is telling kids and exchanging with them the rights and wrongs of the things that he did and encouraging kids to further their education and to not deal with the drugs. To obey their parents and pick the people they hang around.

"That's a message I would challenge anybody to say that not one kid across America shouldn't hear from people in notoriety such as Michael Vick."

Dallas mayor Tom Leppert distanced himself from the action later Monday.

"The action taken was not sanctioned by my office and was not an official ceremonial honor on behalf of the City of Dallas," he said in a statement. "Official Keys to the City are presented by the Mayor, or an elected official designated by the Mayor, and reserved, on a limited basis, for an elected official of international status. Clearly, this was not the case in this situation and done without my knowledge or approval."

Local radio reporter Richard Hunter attended the event and filmed it. In the video, Hunter says that he actually adopted one of the dogs from Vick's home and he tried to speak with the Philadelphia quarterback at Saturday's event. Vick did not speak to him.

After serving his prison time, Vick was signed by the Eagles in 2009. This past season he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year after making the Pro Bowl with the Eagles.

Caraway is a city council member and as mayor pro tem serves the role that a vice mayor would if Dallas had that office.

Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com contributed to this report.

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