If you haven’t heard – the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed Michael Vick. Yes, former football superstar fallen from grace due to dog fighting reformed felon and redeemed Vick. Although Vick may never see the field as a Steelers quarterback, the fact that he was even signed to the roster has Steelers Nation up in arms. The argument has run from open petition to questions about the level of judgment Steelers fans have a right to offer up. What that the situation proves is that Vick has caused a polarized response from the Rooneys’ fanbase, often considered one of the largest and strongest in the NFL, but why argue?
There is a long list of reasons why you may not like Michael Vick as a person. His crimes, though paid for, were considered especially heinous by many due to the fact that he was abusive to innocents – dogs. Yes, many can argue that women who were allegedly attacked by Steelers players in the past were also innocent. Ray Rice would have received a similar reaction from fans (and did in many social media circles during the off-season) had the Rooney family decided to make him a part of their team.
Chris Mueller of KDKA radio (93.7 FM, Pittsburgh) went so far as to infer that fans are being hypocrites. His statements on Tuesday ranged from showing Steelers fans as ones who either buy into anything the Rooney family approves to those who will cheer as long as a player with past trouble is a big contributor to the team’s success to those who believe they should get a final say on nearly every aspect of the roster. If you don’t like Mueller’s proposition of hypocrisy, tell him, not me. I disagree that fans should just be tagged with that generalization of hypocrite. Some have shown that in their public statements, but many more are voicing their concerns in healthy ways.
The fact that the Steelers signed Vick does not have to be such a polarizing issue. It doesn’t need to come down to Steelers fans ripping each other apart in front of the rest of the league proving what many of them already believe; that if you root for Pittsburgh you’re a pompous, opinionated jagoff or “yinzer” with steel shavings in your brain; who think that because your favorite team won four Lombardi trophies in the 1970s and three since then makes you entitled to any opinion, right or wrong. Unfortunately, that is truly what a lot of fans of teams outside of Pittsburgh see Steeler Nation as. A group of snobbish thugs who want things their way or no way.
I don’t agree. As a Steelers fan, I have been disappointed plenty of times by different players that have worn the black and gold. That didn’t mean that I was being holier-than-thou. I just didn’t agree with the actions of the individual.
I thought it was wrong for James Harrison to strike a woman. I disagreed with Maurkice Pouncey supporting Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder. I got really riled up with Rashard Mendenhall took to Twitter to bad mouth players on his own team or make ridiculous statements. I thought it was wrong for Ben Roethlisberger to get into a situation where questions even had to be brought up as to whether or not he was involved in crimes against women. I was ticked off that Chris Rainey decided it was okay to strike a girl who took his cell phone. I was disappointed in Hines Ward for getting a DUI. I thought Plaxico Burress was just plain idiotic for taking a loaded gun into a nightclub and accidentally shooting himself.
If I continued, there would be a long list of players here. Steelers fans who have followed the team for more than the last five years already know about these incidents and some that stretch as far back as the beginnings of the Steelers organization.
I don’t like Vick as a player for reasons that have nothing to do with his off-field issues. First, Vick is two years younger than I am. He’s a 35-year-old that I seriously hope never has to step on the field. Based on his age alone, I don’t see him being more than a bandaid since Landry Jones has been such a disappointing backup and Bruce Gradkowski has to have surgery, period. I am not sold on Gradkowski, either. Second, although Vick has a decent arm, he has been a journeyman quarterback with a three-year span out of the league for his criminal activities.
Vick can still throw the ball. He isn’t as nimble on his feet. He has caused contention in locker rooms, but for the most part has kept his nose clean. Sure, Vick has an attitude. How many football players don’t have one? In 2011, Vick had one of his best seasons in the league. He threw 423 completions for 3,303 yards and 18 touchdowns. Tell me truthfully, do you think Jones or Gradkowski can legitimately do the same? I would love to see Charlie Batch come out of retirement and join ‘Big Ben’ again, but it isn’t happening. When we get down to the nitty-gritty, I have to agree that Vick has the skill-set that the Steelers need as a backup. He isn’t in Pittsburgh to win a congeniality award.
I won’t be buying a Vick jersey, count on it. I think it is my right as a person to make a decision about my purchases. Like it or not, the Rooney family are running a business. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry. My petitions are likely to fall on deaf ears or just incite fans of other teams to ramp up their hate-filled tirades. That does not mean I have to run right out and buy a jersey that has the man’s last name on it. Never going to happen.
Remember how appalled we all were by how the Kansas City Chiefs fans treated their team a few years back? What a bunch of bums. Throwing stuff on the field attempting to hurt their players? Booing constantly. Cussing? Acting like a bunch of boobs? Threatening the lives of individual players?
Unfortunately, nearly every NFL team has faced that kind of scrutiny from the fan base at some point or another in their history. I am not sure it is excusable.
I certainly hope that Steeler Nation does not think one man on the roster warrants that kind of behavior. Am I condemning any fan for not liking the Vick move? No. But I also don’t like hearing my Steelers fan friends giving ammunition to every hater out there that already thinks I am a jerk just because of the team I like to follow, love to watch and have since I was a kid.
Vick is signed. It’s a done deal. This does not have to define the team overall. Arguing isn’t going to get the Rooneys to change their mind. The Steelers have some issues with their team, and unfortunately, Vick isn’t the only one.