Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin Wanted to Sign Michael Vick in 2009

By Bryn Swartz
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Two of the most storied franchises in the NFL over the past decade will take the field against each other on Sunday afternoon, as the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Steelers are a physical, smash-mouth type of football team, while the Eagles are built on speed, on both offense and defense.

Yet they’re linked together by one incident in 2009. The Steelers were one of the teams originally interested in signing Michael Vick, the current starting quarterback for the Eagles, after he was released from prison.

In fact, if it was up to head coach Mike Tomlin, Vick would have been the backup to Ben Roethlisberger.

But the Rooneys, the owners of the team, stopped Tomlin from signing Vick. There were two main reasons for not wanting Vick, and I feel like both were extremely justifiable.

The first was that the Steelers were reigning Super Bowl champions and they did not want the headache of bringing in Vick, a former felon who would undoubtedly bring intense media attention, the majority of that negative.

The second reason was that Roethlisberger had just been in the headlines for sexual assault allegations. There’s no way the Steelers could bring in another felon as their quarterback.

“Given some of the things that my quarterback was going through, I didn’t think it was the appropriate time to add another quarterback to the mix,” Tomlin told NBC-TV’s Bob Costas that year. “He’s going through somewhat of a trying time with the civil allegation, a case against him. I didn’t want to do anything that was less than supportive to Ben.”

I don’t think that there was any worry that Vick could beat out Roethlisberger for the starting job, especially since Roethlisberger has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks as he continues to age.

However, here’s what would have been really interesting. Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for another sexual allegation accusation. If Vick had been the backup, he would have obviously started those four games. Who knows if he would have played well enough to win the starting job?

I doubt it, considering Roethlisberger was a two-time Super Bowl champion and a top six or seven quarterback in the league, but remember how well Vick played when he was starting in Philadelphia in 2010. It would have been a tough call for Tomlin.

In the end though, it all worked out. Roethlisberger stayed with the Steelers and Vick went to the Eagles, where he has won 20 of the 24 starts in which he played and didn’t suffer an injury.

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