COOK: Outraged Steelers fans need to get over their anger about Vick signing
Three words for those of you who are so angry with the Steelers signing Michael Vick that you are threatening to sell your tickets, throw out your Terrible Towels, burn your jerseys and never watch a game again:
Get over it.
You are ridiculous.
You have doubts about Vick, at 35, being able to help the Steelers as a backup quarterback with Bruce Gradkowski out after finger surgery? That's fair. But spare me the nonsense about his baggage from eight years ago. And, please, spare me your outrage at the Rooneys for this perceived violation of the so-called Steeler Way. There is no Steeler Way, never has been. The Rooneys are in the business of winning. Like all NFL owners, they will do whatever it takes, to quote their former iconic coach. There is nothing wrong with that.
Vick has paid his debt to society. He served 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges in August 2007 for his role in a dog-fighting ring, ending his six-year run with the Atlanta Falcons. He missed two NFL seasons before resurfacing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009.
It's all about winning: No one is condoning Vick's deplorable acts with those dogs. No one with a conscience could. But people change. By all accounts, Vick was a decent human during his five seasons with the Eagles and last season with the New York Jets. The Steelers coaches and players will welcome him with open arms.
Under one condition, of course.
That Vick proves he can help the team win.
In the NFL, it's always about winning.
It's nice to think Vick won't play for the Steelers. For him to get on the field, something would have to happen to Roethlisberger, who has been remarkably durable the past two seasons. If Roethlisberger goes down with a serious injury and has to miss significant time, the Steelers won't win the Super Bowl. He is practically indispensable, just as Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay and Andrew Luck is in Indianapolis. The backup quarterback won't matter.
But what if Roethlisberger gets hurt and has to miss a game or two or even three? Would Vick give the Steelers a better chance of getting through Roethlisberger's absence than their other backup quarterback, Landry Jones? I believe so. There is reason to think Vick has plenty left. Many football people are convinced the Jets would have won more games last season and that Rex Ryan still would be their coach if Ryan had played Vick earlier instead of sticking with Geno Smith. Vick still has a powerful arm — one of the best in the NFL — although it has been inaccurate at times. He still has the mobility that made him one of the league's most feared scramblers. And he has one more thing that Jones doesn't have — valuable game experience.
Tomlin familiar with Vick: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn't need to see Vick throw a 67-yard touchdown pass to help the Jets beat the Steelers last November. He has known Vick for a long time, likes him personally and likes that big arm. He expressed at least some interest in signing Vick after he was released from prison, but the timing wasn't right. Timing is everything in life, isn't it? The Steelers were coming off a win against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. The wounds Vick caused with his dog-fighting ring still were fresh. So was his prison time. The Steelers didn't need the distraction he would have caused.
But that was 2009.
This is 2015.
The guess here is Vick will grow on you and you will forget about his ancient baggage if he plays well. You were quick to overlook James Harrison's domestic-abuse incident in 2008, the sexual-assault allegations against Roethlisberger in Milledgeville, Ga., in 2010 and Le'Veon Bell's arrest on marijuana charges a year ago. You will be quick to embrace Vick if he helps the Steelers win. You will give him a standing ovation the first time he throws a touchdown pass.
You might even buy Vick's jersey.