Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick are two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the National Football League, and they will square off on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles renew their cross-state rivalry.
Had Mike Tomlin gotten his wish back in 2009, though, Roethlisberger and Vick might not be foes this week. They might have been teammates.
Ed Bouchette writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Tomlin had a desire to make Vick a Steeler after he was released from prison in 2009. Vick had just served a 21-month sentence for running an interstate dog fighting ring. Tomlin wanted him, but the Rooney family, the long-time, well-respected owners of the Steelers, didn't share Tomlin's interest.
Two things prevented Tomlin from bringing Vick to Pittsburgh. The main reason was the Rooneys were dead set against it. They had no desire to bring on a felon, just out of prison, and all the negative reaction his signing would bring, both internally and externally. Plus, the Steelers were reigning Super Bowl champs. Who needed that headache?
The headache would've been massive, too, as Ben Roethlisberger was dealing with sexual assault accusations at the time. That was the other reason Vick never became a Steeler ‒ the Steelers didn't want to further complicate things for Roethlisberger by bringing in a quarterback who would've been a major media distraction and could be seen as a potential threat to Roethlisberger's job. That would've been the last thing Roethlisberger needed.
In hindsight, it's worked out just fine for both teams. The Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl after the 2010 season, and any struggles they've had since then certainly haven't been the fault of Roethlisberger. He continues to be one of the league's finest quarterbacks. Vick would've been somewhat wasted in Pittsburgh.
As for Vick, he landed with the Philadelphia Eagles, of course, where they appreciated him so much that they gave him a contract in 2011 that guaranteed him more than $30 million. In 2010, Vick had a Pro Bowl season and led the Eagles to the playoffs.
Since then, Vick's level of play has slipped a bit, but had he not come along, it's hard to tell what the Eagles quarterback situation would look like right now. The Eagles could still be trying to mold Kevin Kolb into their quarterback of the future. Maybe they'd even still have Donovan McNabb. Maybe they'd have taken a quarterback earlier than the fourth round in the 2010 draft, when they drafted Mike Kafka. Maybe they'd have traded up and tried to get Sam Bradford, or landed one of the other QBs in the 2010 draft: Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen or Tim Tebow.
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