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Michael Vick vs Ben Roethlisberger: The Moral Issue

Michael Vick

His name makes people sick; he’s a convicted Dog-Fighter, Torturer, and Killer.

While he’s never publicly admitted to more than funding one of the largest dog-fighting rings in American history; he has pleaded guilty to all acts in a court of law.  Some of these acts include drowning dogs, hanging dogs, electrocuting dogs, and slamming dogs against the ground repeatedly to kill them.

Being an animal lover, it makes me physically ill to think about it.  I abhor this violence, and all of those convicted should be justly punished. 

In 2007 Michael Vick served almost 2 years in a federal penitentiary.  He was also instantly suspended from football for over 2 years, and subsequently has filed for bankruptcy.  Last year Vick joined the Philadelphia Eagles after his re-instatement, and is currently the starting quarterback for the team. 

Over the years, and especially since his release, I have been trolling blogs and forums discussing/including public opinion on Michael Vick.  People call for his head and his career on a daily basis; they feel that anything he does to correct his mistakes will never be enough.  It is fair to say that Vick is the most hated man in the NFL, and quite possibly, in sports history. 

Ben Roethlisberger

If you are familiar with Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers you know that he’s made headlines both on and off the field. 

Ben has just escaped his third rape charge; the latest of which was brought forward by a 20 year old college student in Georgia. She explained that he forced himself on her in a public bathroom which he had guarded by his entourage.  Doctors have found physical trauma on the woman typically found in a rape case, but once again the charges have been dropped, in part because the woman was under the influence of alcohol.  Roethlisberger has not served any jail time, and he was only suspended for 4 games by the NFL.  He has just returned to the NFL with a relatively small amount of discourse from fans and the league.   What’s worse is when you search out blogs and forums regarding this topic it is far less assessable than Vick’s.

The Discussion

My question isn’t whether Michael Vick deserves a second chance or whether Ben Roethlisberger escaped punishment.

My question is why, to the NFL and the viewing public, is rape more excusable than animal abuse?   

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vick before any allegations were proven.  He was dropped by his team (the Atlanta Falcons), and after he served his sentence the NFL added an additional suspension.

Goodell’s legacy has been a “judge first, ask questions later” policy.  Ask Burress, Stallworth, or Jones.  Any player accused of anything bringing discredit to the league is automatically suspended.  However, somehow Roethlisberger wasn’t when his latest allegation surfaced.  His sentence consisted of only 6 missed games, (2 of which were rescinded for good behavior).

Is it because Ben was never convicted in court?  Is it because some believe these women have no credibility?  Maybe because animal abuse is more taboo than sexual deviance?  Or is it because Michael Vick is a Black man and the NFL is “known” to be a racist league? 

It may be more innocent than the above statements, but we need to acknowledge that that public perception favors someone like Roethlisberger over Vick.  Why is that?

I may not cheer for Vick every Sunday, but I can tell you that I would never cheer for Roethlisberger either.

What do you think?


  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed reading this piece, and I am always grateful to have an insiders look into your work. It is rare that someone approaches sports from such a personal angle. I’m not only glad to have you as a part of Dreamland, I am grateful to have you as a brother.

    As for the question. I have never judged Vick for his personal choices. He is nothing more than an athlete to me, so I am only concerned with his performance on the field. As for Roethlisberger… I was not there, and will thus reserve judgment. If he did do what he is accused of, I am appalled to say the least. Such acts of violence against women are one of the rare things that really upset me. Rape is completely and utterly unacceptable. Woman are life’s greatest resource, and god’s greatest creation. Nevertheless, I don’t know what either man did, I am no saint myself, and I will therefore hold my tongue as best I can.

  • Sharlene

    Ugh! I hate them both but I am VERY discouraged by the fact that the NFL seems to take abuse against women (either domestic or sexual) much more lightly than any other offense. This seems true for most sports’ leagues. Often when a woman makes an accusation against a pro athlete, she is represented as an opportunist in the media, and the bigger the star, the bigger the lie she must be telling. The NFL really should learn how to prioritize. As much as I love cute, cuddly animals, I would never put their well being above another human being.

  • Chris Elliott

    Wow man. Astonishing news. I knew very little about each situation going in, and I must say, it is really disheartening to know that either issues are even present. I think that it’s completely disgusting what Sports figures (and celebrities in general) get away with when it comes to the law. These people reach a level of success that no longer becomes novel or exciting, and as a result, begin to fill the voids in their lives with the statisfaction that comes from hurting others. It’s inexcusable and utterly pathetic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Wood/541180607 Adam Wood

    Love the sinner and hate the sin (yup I said it) – Like Mr. Godfrey stated, I wasn’t there and I don’t know what actually happened but both are repulsive actions to Mans best friends. Unlike Mr. Godfrey, I don’t need to talk about the “greatest creation” publically to sway them ; )

  • Anonymous

    Amazing opinions guys, keep em coming! I want to know how everyone feels about the topic!

  • Brian Gault

    Both acts are repulsive, yes.

    What gets me is that sexual abuse allegations, DUI incidents, weapons charges, etc committed by players happen all the time during the season and even more so in the off season which we hear very little about.

    I doubt the press would’ve given this the time of day if these acts were committed by some second string offensive lineman off the bench.

    Ben will get his in time…no doubt.

  • Black Cat

    It just seems to me some people can get a free pass ans other’s don’t! I don’t think it’s fiar, but this sort of stuff has been going on for years! I guess different strokes for drifferent folks! LOL…..

    Great article man!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000583209773 Sabrina Camp

    get blog John!
    Ben is a pig & deserves to be punished.
    Vick admitted his guilt, served his time & hopefully learned from his mistake.
    as a dog lover myself I was appalled by his actions, disgusted.
    I too will cheer on neither on these quarterbacks.
    but at least Vick was punished properly.
    The same needs to be done with Ben.

  • nonpcman

    what about Ray Lewis and Donté Stallworth they both killed people …one never was convected (not enough evidence and he plead down to nothing for pointing the finger at others) the other a DWI car accident that killed sone one and he served 90 days ! at least Vick  admitted his crime ,did his time and is trying to make amends (not that he will ever live it down he deserves the chance.what kind of world do we live in that an animal is more important then a HUMAN?????

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