Free agent Michael Vick has signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team announced on Tuesday.
Vick spent last season with the New York Jets, but signed with the Steelers as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger after Bruce Gradkowski dislocated a finger in his left hand during last week’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers.
“There’s not a throw on the field he can’t make from an arm strength standpoint,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s a very experienced guy at what he does at this point in his career, and the mobility is still unique even at 35.”
Vick was found guilty in 2007 of funding an illegal dog fighting ring on his property, and served 21 months in prison. He was suspended by the NFL indefinitely, and commissioner Roger Goodell said the quarterback had admitted to conduct that was “not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible.”
But after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons, he returned to the NFL in 2009 and resurrected his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was named the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2010, and helped the Eagles finish with a 10–6 record to make the playoffs. But he had injuries and inconsistent performances in 2011, and in 2012 was replaced by Nick Foles as the Eagles’ starting quarterback. He played last season as backup to Geno Smith at the Jets.
In 12 NFL seasons, Vick has started 112 games and completed 1,767 of 3,151 passes for 22,093 yards. He has 131 touchdowns and is a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
Roethlisberger said he supported the signing of Vick if the move helps the team. When asked about Vick’s controversial past, Roethlisberger said: “This is a locker room. It’s about football. That’s what matters to me most.”
Tomlin said of Vick: “Rest assured, he’s done a lot since he’s gone through some of the things he’s gone through. His track record to this point in that regard speaks for itself.”
In a corresponding move, the Steelers placed Gradkowski on the reserve/injured list. He is having surgery Tuesday, and is expected to miss three to four weeks, leaving Landry Jones as the only other full-time quarterback on the Steelers’ roster prior to the Vick signing.
This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 26th August 2015 14.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010