Controversial, fascinating Michael Vick to get two-part '30 for 30' documentary on ESPN

Frank Schwab

Michael Vick has not played in an NFL football game since 2015. While he has a few roles around football these days, he’s not an omnipresent part of the scene and hasn’t been for a while.

And still, the mention of Vick’s name draws as much emotion as just about any football player, past or present.

Vick, a unique talent who is probably better known for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring, will have a two-part documentary about him as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. The first part will air Thursday, January 30 at 9 p.m. ET and part two will air Thursday, February 6, at 9 p.m. ET.

[Watch live NFL games on the Yahoo Sports app, here's how]

It is very likely to be one of the most-watched documentaries in the history of “30 for 30.”

Michael Vick still a controversial figure

ESPN said the two-part documentary will be directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

Nelson’s statement on the film hints at the complicated nature of the Vick story.

“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,” Nelson said in a statement, via ESPN. “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.”

When Vick was named a Pro Bowl captain late last year, perhaps the NFL felt people had moved on from the dog-fighting involvement that landed Vick in a federal prison. They were wrong. More than 679,000 people have signed a petition to remove him as Pro Bowl captain. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in December that Vick wouldn’t be removed.

"Over the last, what is it, nine years or so, we have supported Michael in his recognition of the mistake he made," Goodell said, via CNN. "He's paid a heavy price for that. He's been accountable for it."

Feelings about Vick haven’t softened, even though he was sentenced for his actions more than 12 years ago.

Michael Vick's story will be told on an ESPN documentary. (Kevin D. Liles/AP Images for American Flag Football League)
Michael Vick's story will be told on an ESPN documentary. (Kevin D. Liles/AP Images for American Flag Football League)

Vick’s story has many layers

Vick’s legacy is complicated, to say the least.

He was a first-of-his-kind quarterback at Virginia Tech. He was fastest player on the field and had a cannon arm. He was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons, the first black quarterback to be the top pick of the NFL draft.

There were running quarterbacks before Vick, but his phenomenal talent started to shift how teams looked at the quarterback position. In some ways, he paved the way for dual-threat players like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson to become some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

To some Vick is a cultural icon, to others an integral part of football history, and some view him as a villain who should never be forgiven. Love Vick or hate him, he’s undeniably one of the more interesting figures in NFL history.

ESPN’s documentary should be a memorable one.

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

More from Yahoo Sports: