Neo may have been quite comfortable bending over backwards to dodge a speeding bullet in The Matrix, but for the NFL's two most problematic quarterbacks of recent years, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger have become accustom to this challenging routine week in and week out.
"You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson," -The Matrix
Meet the new and improved Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger. Cheesy smiles, a nice guy attitude, and a Tiger Woods-like persona that attempts to make people forget about their hazy past and focus on a bright future that could quite possibly hold Super Bowl aspirations.
Just like The Matrix though, there is a lot more than a barrage of bad guys equipped with futuristic weapons standing in front of Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger right now.
What could be more frightening than middle-aged men dressed in business suits?
How about one middle aged guy dressed in a business suit armed with seven league suspensions to his name—NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
It would be almost laughable if I were to sit here and tell you that Roger Goodell hasn't thought of the distinct possibility that either Michael Vick or Ben Roethlisberger may end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at season's end.
As great as the NFL is run on a day to day basis, America's No. 1 sport is fond of staying out of the tabloids, and would rather bask in the glow of a "feel good" story, similar to the New Orleans Saints of last year.
But as warm as the Saints Super Bowl run of 2009 was, what would Roger Goodell think of a Michael Vick/Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl, if it were to kick off the new decade in a controversial manner come this February?
Six weeks to go, six weeks to discuss. Let's take a look.
Two-time Super Bowl Champion, surefire Hall of Fame quarterback, and a beard that would leave even Sidney Crosby himself a little envious come NHL playoff time.
Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has achieved a lot in his six-year career. What continues to plague No. 7 rather than his success, however, is Big Ben's offseason allegations that occupied news headlines for the span of four months.
When considering Big Ben's chances of a third Super Bowl ring, the Steelers' star quarterback would have to expect some criticism from outside fans. Not only did Roethlisberger miss most on the opening half of the regular season due to suspension, Roethlisberger has of course been the butt of many late night talk show jokes so far this year.
As for Roger Goodell, though, his perspective may involve a little more than just a few humorous side notes mentioned by Jay Leno is his nightly monologue.
First and foremost, Roger Goodell would take into account the fact that Ben Roethlisberger already has two shiny rings sitting on his hand. While I'm not implying that Goodell fixes the Super Bowl in any way, if the boss were to have a preference, Ben Roethlisberger's past success would come into play.
The reason for this being is simple. Vick has won nothing, while Roethlisberger has, so you do the math. NFL fans want something new each year, and although Steel City enjoys a constant winning streak, the rest of the population is growing a little weary of the colors yellow and black.
Secondly, the Steelers' recent "cheating" allegations could also pop up as a concern. Earlier in the year, NFL officials admitted to "rigging" Super Bowl XL. Athough the Seattle Seahawks were displeased, this certainly couldn't compare to Roger Goodell's backstage frustration.
Therefore, if Pittsburgh were to go for the Big 7 in 2010, expect to see some uproar. While the Steelers have won a championship following this scandal (2008), some questions may arise as to whether or not a future matchup would be totally fair.
Not all of this is Big Ben's fault, but it simply plays an unfortunate factor for the remainder of the year.
As mentioned, Vick has nothing to show for his near 10-year career as a professional quarterback. Vick's criminal record is the focal point for most people.
When it comes to comparing Roethlisberger and Vick, the plain difference between the two is that the new Philadelphia Eagles star has served a prison term. Yes, Roethlisberger easily could have too, but a dog fighting charge has always plagued Vick since returning to the NFL.
So does Roger Goodell want to promote a convict?
Most likely not.
On the positive side though, this could be seen as a pro. The Saints' "feel good" story was memorable, but Vick has managed to come back in the face of adversity, something that the average Joe of today can relate to heavily.
Other than Vick's past, it is also his present season that has impressed people. His 1,608 yards and 11 touchdowns take the cake hands down, but with 0 interceptions to his name, the letters "MVP" are easily chosen as the next six weeks progress.
Finally, Vick has also done all the right things. It could be said that anyone who is mentored by Tony Dungy has the potential to excel, but with the press conferences, media releases and in your face exposure, Vick is coming off as a big time redemption story.
No rings, and more importantly rehabilitation, seeing the Eagles win the Super Bowl under a once despised athlete could interest Roger Goodell, and also credit the Eagles coaching genius that is Andy Reid.
Who Would Roger Goodell Prefer?
Understandably, many people have different opinions on this issue. The question of whether or not Michael Vick will re-offend is always up for debate, yet at the same time Big Ben could also be thrown into that pool.
While we're still thinking about it though, chances are Roger Goodell would prefer Vick. Re-offending is always a concern for any troubled player, but Vick's stellar year that has been plagued by injury is enough to make anyone stand up and realize.
Add the icing to the cake by stating that the Philadelphia Eagles are also without a single Super Bowl victory, and the case is game, set, match.
Don't take any of this the wrong way; heck, the Steelers could still get the job done. Both teams have a 7-3 record, and with crucial games coming up again in Week 12, each victory only further widens the discussion.
For now, Vick takes the honors, only due to how much he deserves it. Playing well is one thing, but turning a life of crime around is a totally different scenario. Roethlisberger deserves it also, but he has at least felt the joy of the big dance.
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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters, plus a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.
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