…Well, a jersey number, the lead in their respective divisions, and a tarnished public reputation.
But, that is where the comparisons should stop. Gene Wojciechowski wrote an article yesterday for ESPN that compared these two troubled quarterbacks, though all of the similarities he listed between Vick and Roethlisberger seemed as superficial as saying, “They are alike because they both got in trouble and now are playing well.”
Obviously, there is much more to the story than that.
Michael Vick had a four year road to travel before ending up where he is today. He went to prison and was forced to endure (deserved) public scrutiny at every turn.
What he did was unconscionable; you will never hear me say otherwise. I have my own doubts about fully accepting him, but I will also never say that he is not doing everything he can to become a better person for it.
Certainly, the fact that he is the best player on a highly respected NFL team has allowed him immense help in pulling his reputation from the gutter. But unlike Roethlisberger, this is not his only redeeming quality. He has become a model player for others on the team, and changed his practice habits significantly from his days in Atlanta. He is putting everything he has into his career, which is a great start.
On top of that, he is speaking out to the community and children in general, against the kinds of things with which he used to be involved. So at least publicly, he is condemning his previous behavior and trying to change the future for others that could potentially follow in his footsteps.
Ben Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime. However, regardless of whether or not he was convicted, there is no doubt that he had been consistently putting himself in situations that were not appropriate for anyone, let alone a football superstar admired by so many.
If the allegations were, in fact, true one can only hope that he learned from the experience and started his own path to redemption. But to compare his journey to Vick’s at this point in time would both undermine the progress and effort Vick has put into his own life and career, and overstate the level of hardship Roethlisberger has faced.
While Vick went through years of rehabilitation, Ben was scrutinized for a few months and suspended for a few games. One can only hope that Roethlisberger will never have to endure what Vick went through, and that his troubles will never reach that level.
The debate on whether either man has been "redeemed" or is simply a bad person undeserving of forgiveness is irrelevant. I just do not agree with anyone who chooses to compare these two men on any grounds other than on a football field.