ESPN the magazine is relaunching with a Sept. 5 episode it bills as being completely about Michael Vick.
Some of the subjects assayed seem pretty familiar to a Philadelphia audience, which has pondered the Vick ponderables for two years now. One piece is about how there is no middle ground, you either think Vick is a terrible person or you think he was given too harsh a sentence. (I think there is room for middle ground there, but that probably wouldn't make a compelling story). Another piece goes the route of declaring how Vick is revolutionizing the quarterback position. (We read that one before, sometime around 2004, a point that author David Fleming acknowledges.)
That "revolutionizing" talk always makes insiders nervous. The Eagles' feat has been to marry Vick's great, unique ability to a West Coast offense. But the more he goes for "revolution" instead of staying within the offense, the more he resembles the Atlanta Vick, who never won much of anything.
Most interesting to me is the story written off an informal poll of 44 anonymous players. For one thing, the poll results reflect what we heard from the free agents who signed with the Eagles this summer -- that Vick is held in high regard by his peers. Asked if they liked Vick, all 44 respondents said they did, the first time, ESPN said, that such a poll has ever gotten a unanimous response.
Asked how Vick could improve, 21.6 percent of the players said he should learn how to slide.
ESPN said 58.1 percent of the players polled felt Vick was treated unfairly, when he was sentenced to federal prison for dogfighting. Fifty-seven point-one percent felt Vick would have fared better had he been white.
The magazine asked about the $30,000 a month Vick was providing to support friends and family, back in his Atlanta days. To those of us who don't play pro sports, that seems extremely generous, but 59.1 percent of the players felt such support was common. They reported that they lend an average of $17,964 a year, very little of which is paid back.