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If you stop following the Steelers because of Michael Vick, you probably weren't much of a fan anyway

The Steelers signed Michael Vick on Tuesday to be their backup quarterback for the 2015 season. Since Vick's past includes some heinous crimes, many fans have voiced their displeasure and some have said they are done with the team. However, if all it takes is one player to ruin your love for a team, that love probably never existed in the first place.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

"I'm done with them!"

It doesn't take much for people to exclaim such things today. Whether it be a controversial Tweet made by an athlete of a specific team; an arrest of a player from a specific team; or a loss to the Marlins on a Tuesday night by a specific baseball team that "dropped" to 26-games over .500 at the end of August, people are often quick to fold up their rally towels and throw them in the trash can (or in certain cases, mail them back to the team).

Of course, this kind of reaction by so-called fans is really nothing new—it's just more visible in a day and age when everyone has the ability to voice their opinions in so many different places and on so many different mediums.

You often read about how certain leagues or teams suffered with poor ratings and attendance for a period of time in the aftermath of a work-stoppage that altered a particular season. Not only did some fans stop watching and going; many simply never came back.

How can that be? How could you just throw (insert any number of years you've been following a team) away because of a strike or lockout that lasted a few months? Professional sports leagues have unions and Collective Bargaining Agreements, and when such entities exist, work-stoppages are unavoidable--you should expect that going in.

It's kind of like saying you're never going to date again because your last relationship didn't last. Unless you get married (or sometimes, even if you do), all relationships are eventually going to fizzle and end. Therefore, to act as if you didn't see your latest breakup coming is kind of silly.

Speaking of silly, it's probably silly to rationalize and put conditions on being a die-hard sports fan. Much like falling in love, there's nothing rational about it. Either you're a fan of a certain team or you're not. If you are a fan, you put up with a lot of things, such as years and years of losing, poor decision making and even unsavory player behavior.

When you're in-love with someone, you put up with so much that you never thought you would going into the relationship. Sometimes (even when things are going great) you ask yourself why you're in-love and list so many great qualities about your mate. However, if you only loved this person because of those great qualities, wouldn't you walk away the very first time he or she displayed poor ones?

But you don't and why? Because it's hard to quantify love.

As a Steelers fan, you might say you love them because of their six Super Bowls and so many years of playoff success, but if those were the only reasons for your passion, you probably would have stopped caring after their consecutive 8-8 and playoff-less campaigns in 2012 and 2013. But you didn't stop caring. As a writer who often got emails from readers who were annoyed by my critical articles during those years, I know you didn't stop caring or wanting Pittsburgh to win.

The Steelers signed Michael Vick on Tuesday to a one-year deal to be their backup quarterback in the wake of the finger injury suffered by Bruce Gradkowski, who was place on Injured Reserve. Naturally, the signing of Vick created a backlash among some fans, many of whom have said they are now done with the team.


Everyone knows what Michael Vick did was heinous and cruel and socially taboo. However, he was convicted eight years ago, went to prison, paid the price with 19-months of lost freedom and has rehabilitated himself into a decent person. Ex-cons who were in prison for murder (far worse a crime than what Vick was convicted of) went on to become model citizens who made a difference the right way and were accepted back into the community.

At a certain point, you have to forgive and let go. Maybe you don't forgive Vick, but you certainly don't stop following the Pittsburgh Steelers with all the heart and soul you did prior to Tuesday. For one thing, Vick is now with his third NFL team since being released from prison in May of 2009. Therefore, it's rather narcissistic for you as a supposed fan to jump on your soap box and act as if Pittsburgh signed Vick the second the prison gates closed behind him. Vick has had over a half-a-decade to prove he's now a model citizen who knows what he did was wrong and has gone about trying to correct his past transgressions.

The Steelers probably aren't the model organization fans have made them out to be over the years. But they sure have had their share of extraordinary individuals that have represented them throughout their history, including Chuck Noll, Joe Greene, Lynn Swann, Carnell Lake, Jerome Bettis, Troy Polamalu, Dick LeBeau, Mike Tomlin and, oh yes, founder and owner Art Rooney Sr, who passed away on August 25, 1988---27 years before Vick was signed on Tuesday.

If you want to let one man—a backup quarterback who probably won't even see the field during the regular season—ruin your love for the Steelers, I seriously have to question if that love ever existed in the first place.