Despite there being a previously alleged rapist at quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers fans are disappointed at their newest signing.

By Jeff Weisinger

So a previously alleged rapist and a convicted dog killer walk into a locker room…

Or better yet, you have two quarterbacks lead you to a big win. One can attack the opposing defense swift and viciously, the other knows how to take advantage of the opponent – which do you choose?

If there’s anything we’ve learned in sports, especially the NFL, it’s that winning championships makes the past seems like just that: the past. Unless you’re new Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Michael Vick…then, well, your past is your story.

With Bruce Gradkowski landing on injured reserve, the Steelers signed Vick Tuesday night to backup Ben Roethlisberger.

Fans have already protested against Vick’s signing with five people showing up to Vick’s first practice on Wednesday. There’s an Anti-Vick group on Facebook that was set up by Steelers fans. The group, called “Pittsburghers against Michael Vick” had 14,269 likes as of Wednesday night.

There’s also a petition calling for the team to release Vick. Over 15,000 fans have signed the petition which says:

“Michael Vick is a convicted felon and no-class piece of crap. He is also a terrible QB which is why he has no team. Let’s united as Steelers fans – as NFL fans – and stop him from playing on our team! Steelers fans united! Sign to keep Vick from ever wearing the coveted Steelers uniform!!”

As of 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, 17,036 people have signed the petition.

This isn’t the first time Vick has received backlash from his new hometown fans. After signing with the Eagles right out of prison in 2009, several fans had T-shirts made that said “Hide your beagle Vick is an Eagle.”

While Vick, ideally on the field, is a solid backup for a now pass-happy Pittsburgh offense, the reaction of Steelers’ Nation to chastise Vick before even hitting the field is actually ironic given the past of their starting quarterback.

Since Vick’s return to the NFL in 2009, he’s thrown for 10,588 yards in his six seasons since prison with 60 touchdowns to just 35 interceptions. In his years starting for the Eagles in 2010 and 2011, he threw for over 3,000 yards each, recording a 60 percent completion rate highlighted by a career-best 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions in 2010.

Surprisingly enough, after two Super Bowl wins in three appearances, most fans have quickly forgotten that Roethlisberger was accused of rape, twice. He was never charged (of course) but he managed to settle out of court with one of his victims.

There was a sign at Wednesday’s protest that read: “FIRST, BEN … NOW VICK … WHAT NEXT.”

Another sign read: “Jail time is not enough. Ban Vick from football.”

The women who held those signs outside of the Steeler facility are from the “Justice with Animals” group according to protester Ellie Gordon.

Take to that as you will, but it’s ironic that there wasn’t much protest for a guy accused of rape compared to that of someone charged with dogfighting under a decade ago.

“Obviously, you’re sensitive to those particular things, but we’re going to do our due diligence,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “He has done a lot since some of the things that he has gone through. His track record to this point speaks for itself.”

Unlike Big Ben, Vick pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring, serving two years in prison.

Another protester, Natalie Ahwesh, a season-ticket holder, said that the objective of the group is “to show the Steelers we don’t approve of this.

“The move is embarrassing. It’s upsetting. I’m angry. I’m not going to be able to go to the games and have fun with my family. The season is ruined for me as long as he’s on the team.”

She isn’t the only one to voice her opinion. Numerous fans alike have voiced their opinion on Twitter, displaying their disappointment with the Steelers’ decision.

The reaction has to make one wonder what Steelers fans would think of Big Ben had he not won those Super Bowls, let alone lead Pittsburgh to the big game.

Last December, comedian Chris Rock called Roethlisberger the “Original Cosby” during a media event in Baltimore for his movie “Top 5.”

After cracking the joke, Rock cut the rest of it short saying, “That’s horrible … that’s gonna go everywhere.”

The truth is to chastise one as much as to create a petition for him to lose his job, a Facebook group and show up to protest outside of the team facility for one player’s mistakes while overlooking the player ahead of him is a complete contradiction as to what you really want. Pittsburgh’s protest of Vick and massive support of Big Ben is, in short, saying that fans worry about the lives and well-being of dogs rather than that of other people.

Here’s a possibly well-known fact: the NFL is full of criminals. After Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 23 NFL players were arrested. Since 2010, more than 730 NFL players have been arrested in alleged criminal incidents.

Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger have, or allegedly have, done illegal things. Majority of the NFL have done illegal things. They all have been arrested or questioned and all still have jobs.

If you’re going to go after someone for their potentially illegal or criminal past, then shouldn’t everyone protest the entire league?

Unfortunately everyone is going to remember the Michael Vick that was convicted of dogfighting. I, as most football fans should, remember him for the electric plays he’s made throughout his career that made everyone, including myself stand up and say “Wow!”


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Jeff Weisinger

Featured Columnist for FanSided and Beat-Writer for New York City FC. My #LifeAfterQB is incredibly #blessed.