Available now on ESPN Player, the latest 30 for 30 documentary, Vick, is a two-part film directed by one of the most decorated documentarians today, Stanley Nelson. The film provides a comprehensive look back at each chapter of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s saga: the incredible rise, shocking fall, and polarising return.
Beginning with his emergence as a high school star in Newport News, Virginia, Vick traces the quarterback’s rise as a college football phenomenon and then number-one overall draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons – 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 status 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 superstar athlete to national pariah when in 2007 he was found guilty of running a dog-fighting ring. From one of the most popular players in the NFL – and all of sports – Vick was 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, directed by award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson (Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities).
“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.”