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Signing Michael Vick is the right move for Steelers

If it weren’t for Michael Vick’s past, his signing Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers would be nothing more than six-point agate type in the newspaper.

Vick is, after all, a 35-year-old quarterback whose 52.9 completion percentage last season was the lowest in the NFL among quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes. He’s a backup near the end of his career.

But because Vick once ran a heinous dogfighting ring, this isn’t just any transaction. It’s something that has to be talked about.

Many Steelers fans are in an uproar over their team signing a man who used to kill dogs for fun.

Vick did, however, spend nearly two years in prison for his crime. Everyone has a right to make a living once they’ve served their time. Vick makes his living playing quarterback. He did that for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2009 to 2013 and the New York Jets last season.

Now Vick’s redemption tour takes him to Pittsburgh. The Steelers need a backup quarterback after placing Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve with a hand injury.

Vick as a Steeler isn’t an easy concept to stomach. But do we know for a fact that he’s the worst human being ever to wear a Steelers uniform?

The Steelers roster has never been made up of 53 choir boys. James Harrison was arrested for domestic violence in March of 2008, although the charges were later dropped.

Ben Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime for what happened at a bar in Milledgeville, Georgia one night in 2010. There wasn’t enough evidence to pursue a case. Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said “We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes.” That implies disapproval on some level of Roethlisberger’s behavior that night.

Alameda Ta’amu and Chris Rainey, two players with character concerns in college, were drafted by the Steelers in back-to-back rounds in 2012.

It didn’t take long for trouble to find them. In October that year, an intoxicated Ta’amu drove into several parked cars, injuring one woman, then tried to flee police on foot. He faced several charges for the incident, but hung around with the Steelers until training camp in 2013.

Rainey was on a shorter leash. Days after his rookie season ended, he was arrested for hitting a woman and promptly released.

Every NFL team, including the Steelers, has to deal with player conduct issues at one time or another.

Landry Jones, meanwhile, says he wants to be a minister when his football career is over. How nice it would be if he could take over for Gradkowski as Roethlisberger’s backup. While he had his best game as a pro in Sunday’s preseason win over the Green Bay Packers, he still hasn’t suited up in a regular-season game. He’s not ready to be a No. 2 quarterback.

So the Steelers need Vick. If nothing else, they’re preventing a nemesis from joining another team and possibly foiling them again.

After that magical three-game winning streak last season in which Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes in back-to-back games, the Steelers came crashing down to earth against Vick and the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Vick threw two touchdown passes and ran the ball eight times for 39 yards in a 20-13 win.

In 2006, Vick threw four touchdown passes for the Falcons in a 41-38, overtime win over the Steelers at Atlanta. In 2002, Vick led the Falcons back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit at Pittsburgh. The Steelers had to settle for a 34-34 tie.

The Steelers are investing nearly $22 million a year on the 33-year-old Roethlisberger, hoping he can bring at least one more championship to Pittsburgh before the end of his career. Vick provides a much-needed insurance policy on that investment.

Playing behind an improved offensive line, Roethlisberger hasn’t missed a game since 2012. But the leader of that line, All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, will miss at least half the season with a broken ankle. That has to make the Steelers feel a little uneasy about Roethlisberger’s pass protection. They have to think about what would happen if Roethlisberger went down, and that’s why they called Vick.

Because of Vick’s baggage, there will be some backlash. But it would be nothing compared to what the Steelers would hear if Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending injury and went 2-14 with Landry Jones at quarterback.

 Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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1 comment

  1. Grumpy

    Vick has served his time and done his penance. He is certainly better than either Grad or Jones. He can win games if necessary.

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