Destiny can be a fickle playmate. With 5:35 left in the third quarter of the Steelers and Rams game, destiny decided to call on Michael Vick. Mike has been forced into action and must produce. The backup quarterback will start Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens.
In the midst of a surprising season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the main character has been wounded. The Steel City was horrified when Big Ben went down in a heap. Rams safety Mark Barron sacked Roethlisberger, after being released on a blitz. Through ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler, Ben has stated the hit wasn’t dirty. He does feel like a flag should’ve been thrown.
Enter Mike Vick, the journeyman quarterback who started only three games with the Jets last year. Vick may have lost a step, but he can still make a defensive coordinator change his game plan. When Vick is mentioned, defenses tend to pack the line and dare him to beat them with the pass. So far this year, Vick has completed five of the six passes he’s thrown. That may not seem like much, but it shows a slight improvement in his accuracy. In his career, Mike has a completion percentage of 56.1. His best numbers came in his second season with the Eagles. Vick completed over 62 percent of his passes and had 21 touchdowns with just six picks.
Vick is a professional. He will have no problem preparing for the game. The question is, how will the fans receive him? Since his involvement in dogfighting, Mike has been the poster boy for animal activists. Some Steelers fans were so adamant about their refusal to forgive and forget, they stopped following the team. USA Today carried an article that contained a petition to keep Michael Vick off the team.
Very few understood that Vick was a low hit away from being the starter. Even Big Ben gave his vote of confidence in Vick. He told that to ESPN.
“We brought [Vick] in here for a reason. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a good group around him here. Everybody’s got to do their job. We’ll be just fine… He’s helped me and I’ll continue to do what I can to help him.”
Now that the dreaded reality has arrived for some, how will they react to him playing? If Roethlisberger can give his blessings to Vick, shouldn’t the city of Pittsburgh? Vick is the man. The only other option is Landry Jones. The Steelers took him in the 2013 draft, hoping he would be the heir apparent to King Roethlisberger’s throne. Injuries have kept him on the sidelines. Jones will be getting a game helmet for the first time in his career.
This is where Vick and fans of the Black & Yellow will find out what their hearts are made of. Vick will find out if he has the heart of a champion. Some Steelers fans will be checking their hearts for a temperature above freezing. They have developed icy stares and even icier feelings for Michael Vick.
At a certain point, the past has to become the past. Maybe Vick isn’t the model guy and great all-around quarterback like Tom Brady. But for four to six games he is now the man who will be calling the signals for the Steelers.
Vick is now with his third team since he left prison in 2009. He had moderate success with the Eagles and never looked comfortable while playing for the Jets. As Thursday night inches closer, fans will have to think of how they should react. Booing Vick for horrible play on the field is acceptable. But jeering because he’s a Pittsburgh Steeler will show the country the real Steelers Nation.
[Photos by Jared Wickerham, Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images]