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)