Tomorrow, ESPN Magazine’s 2011 NFL Preview will hit the shelves… more accurately, the Michael Vick Preview will hit the shelves with some other filler is thrown in.  There will be other stories in the issue, but it will be totally dominated by Vick with no less than four major stories about the Eagles QB.  Here’s the details from ESPN’s release

In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine on newsstands Friday, August 26, fans will get up close and personal with Philadelphia Eagles’ starting QB, Michael Vick, as The Mag shares its first ever issue committed so exclusively to one athlete. Overall, the issue offers readers a 360 degree look at how Michael Vick explains the NFL and all its fault lines, full of startling revelations and original insight into his evolution as a QB, his time in prison, and the culture wars he has started in a four-chapter series: Welcome to the Revolution, The View From Within, Zero-Sum Game, and The Dog in the Room.

The only question is… why?  Why does Michael Vick need the wall to wall Favrian coverage?  The reasoning is simple – the Philadelphia Eagles are this year’s it team and with Michael Vick still a lightning rod for debate and controversy, ESPN will attack this story like a bunch of rabid dogs.  ESPN going all-in with Vick and the Eagles is more of an entertainment decision than one that is actually about football.

Consider the “Dream Team” drama that surrounded Philly early this month.  We all got our knickers in a twist when it was said the Eagles wanted to be called the Dream Team, when in reality, it was one quote from backup QB Vince Young about the additions to the roster taken out of context.  But has that stopped ESPN from going all-in on the “Dream Team” narrative?  Of course not… even with the Eagles struggling in their preseason game against the Steelers.  Brian Kenny talked about the Dream Team possibly turning into a nightmare last night when referring to the Eagles.  Mike Greenberg did the same thing at the end of Mike & Mike today.  Schefter has continued to Tweet about the “Dream Team” after the story dropped.  It’s all Eagles, all the time.  Rex Ryan is sooooo jealous.

I wonder this though… has ESPN gone all-in with the Eagles because of this planned Michael Vick issue?  It seems strange because Vick’s comeback from prison has largely been laid to bed as many fans have forgotten/forgiven Vick and others will never truly accept him.  People largely know where they stand with Vick, so I was very surprised when I saw ESPN was devoting this much space to the Eagles QB.  However, ESPN worked throughout the Summer to put the Vick Issue together, so has the leader purposely been hyping Vick and the Eagles merely to sell more magazines?  Hmm…

The Vick issue is also cause for ESPN to take part in its favorite pasttime – cross promotional synergy!  They get to ride these Vick stories in the Mag and fill Mike & Mike, First Take, PTI, ESPNNEWS, Around The Horn, and others with Vick debate.  ESPN’s programs will get to talk more about the team they have deemed to be the #1 story this season and if all else fails, they’ll talk about the talk about the Eagles.  We’ve seen it with USC football and the Miami Heat before, but in truth, it’s simply an entertainment decision (that makes a lot of fans angry).

Are the Eagles worth devoting eight times more attention to than any other team?  Of course not.  The NFL is far from a one team league, but building up someone like Philly into a superstar team, deserved or not, makes for more compelling stories (for better or worse).  It’s like when the words “Dream Team” came out of Vince Young’s mouth, ESPN finally saw something to do with the Heat Index during the NBA lockout – turn it into the Eagles Nest!  The last two Super Bowl champions, Green Bay and New Orleans, both reside in the NFC and are probably better teams… but don’t let the actual football get in the way of ESPN’s story du jour.

(Click read more for an unbelievable update on the story)

***Update: Deadspin has a pic from one of the articles in ESPN The Vick, which is entitled “What If Michael Vick Were White?”  If that wasn’t mind-numbing enough, ESPN took the liberties of actually, you know, producing a virtual white Michael Vick…

The accompanying piece written by Touré is actually an excellent read and decries the lunacy of White Vick… the exact question ESPN The Mag trumpets in the story’s title.  How much sense does it make to have a story contradict its own title?  You can ask ESPN The Mag that question.  In fact, the author writes this in his real story…

“But after his arrest for dogfighting, so many people asked: Would a white football player have gotten nearly two years in prison for what Vick did to dogs?

This question makes me cringe. It is so facile, naive, shortsighted and flawed that it is meaningless. Whiteness comes with great advantages, but it’s not a get-out-of-every-crime-free card. Killing dogs is a heinous crime that disgusts and frightens many Americans. I’m certain white privilege would not be enough to rescue a white NFL star caught killing dogs.”

One could understand that someone who penned a thoughtful column would be displeased if his work was labeled with the disaster that is White Vick.  Touré took to Twitter to distance his column from ESPN’s creation…

By the way, after the internet raised its collective ire, ESPN took White Vick off the story as quickly as he was created.  And that’s why sports blogs are necessary.  To make White Vick disappear.

***Update 2: And with a giant middle finger to common decency, White Vick is back.  Sigh.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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