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ESPN to Air Two-Part ’30 for 30′ Documentary on Michael Vick

The NFL quarterback who went to prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring then returned to the league is the subject of a new film by an acclaimed director.

Courtesy of ESPN

ESPN Films’ next 30 for 30 documentary, Vick, directed by Stanley Nelson (Miles Davis: Birth of the CoolTell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities), one of the most decorated documentarians today, will premiere on ESPN with part 1 on Thursday, January 30, at 9 p.m. ET; part 2 will air one week later on Thursday, February 6, at 9 p.m. ET. The film provides a comprehensive look back at each chapter of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s saga–the incredible rise, shocking fall and polarizing return. 

Beginning with his emergence as a high school star in Newport News, Virginia, the film traces the quarterback’s rise as a college football phenomenon and then-No. 1 overall draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, which was the first time an African-American quarterback was selected with the top pick. In the NFL, Vick would stand out not just for his singular athleticism but also for his standing as a cultural icon, a star who refused to turn his back on the friends who’d been with him since the beginning. Ultimately, it would be that refusal that would portend his downfall. 

Vick quickly went from being a superstar athlete to being a national pariah; from one of the most popular players in the NFL–and all of sports–to a man as ostracized as virtually any public figure in America. Yet his style of play would revolutionize the position of quarterback, and his success on the field would open doors for other Black quarterbacks to follow. The full story is chronicled in Vick

“As a historical documentary filmmaker, I was interested in placing Michael Vick’s life within larger historical narratives–narratives about race and sports, poverty and power, and about the criminal justice system,” said director Nelson. “In the film, we get to see how Vick’s childhood affects the choices he makes as well as how these larger social forces shape his trajectory. I hope that viewers of the film can gain a fuller understanding of the social context that gave rise to Vick’s story as well as its reverberating impact.”