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Why can I root for Vick but not Roethlisberger?

Updated on February 1, 2011

It's Super Bowl week, and Ben Roethlisberger will be starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I rooted for him and the Steelers the last time they were here, but this time I can't. I found myself rooting against the Steelers all year, at the same time wishing well to Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. I had to ask myself, "Why?" They seem to have committed similar acts. Many think Vick's actions are the worst of the two. Roethlisberger, of course, is only accused of a crime - never arrested or convicted.

The Dog Killer (Vick) has been punished for what he did. He spent a few years in prison, and basically lost everything he had in his former life. The Philadelphia Eagles and Andy Reid gave him a second chance, and he has taken full advantage of it. By all accounts, he works much harder at the profession of football quarterback than he ever did before. He is meeting the scheduled payments to his creditors, and speaks candidly about his mistakes and what he has learned. I have a lot of respect for him for not dodging the questions. He seems genuinely remorseful, and I like the way he has many times thanked the Eagles' organization for what they have done.

The Alleged Rapist has consistently refused to talk about his issues. Of course, it's possible that some legal action could still be brought against him. His alleged victims can also sue him, so it's not like he's going to admit to doing anything wrong. But he won't even admit to making some poor choices that put him in this position. It's as if none of it happened, or it's not anyone's business. He was suspended for 6 games by the NFL - later reduced to 4 for good behavior. So, he's never admitted to any sort of culpability, and never been punished.

The Dog Killer's victims were pit bulls. These dogs are, I have heard, intrinsically good-natured. They only become vicious when trained to be so. I feel sorry for all the dogs who are treated this way. It's sickening that Vick and his friends did this.  But perhaps because I suffered a scary dog bite when I was young and still harbor a fear of strange dogs on the loose, I can cut Vick some slack here.

The Alleged Rapist's alleged victims were 2 (at least, that we know of) young women.  I don't have any idea what they looked like.  I know that Ben Roethlisberger is over 6 feet tall and about 240 pounds.  Opposing defensive players have a real hard time stopping him, even though some of them weigh more than he does.  I'd guess these women are at best half his size.  What chance did they have against him?  Whenever I see him out there on the field shrugging off defenders, I think about those wormen. 

So, I'm glad I figured it out for myself.  And I'm okay with it.  I can root for the Dog Killer, but  not the Alleged Rapist.  It could change of course.  If Vick were to have a relapse in his behavior, or if Roethlisberger were to express some kind of sense of shame or remorse.

Dog Killer or Alleged Rapist

Who can or do you root for?

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