Editor’s Note: ESPN The Magazine’s NFL Preview issue, out this week, features multiple stories on Michael Vick. Below, Magazine Editor In Chief Chad Millman addresses the decisions made with the publication of “What If Michael Vick were white?”
This past January we decided to dedicate our entire NFL Preview issue to Michael Vick.
His story, from All-Pro to inmate and back, had transcended the boundaries of the field and become a flashpoint of conversation.
Among the many questions asked when discussing his crime and punishment — How could he do such a thing? Should he be allowed to play again? Could he ever play again? — was, would he have been punished as severely if he were white?
It’s hard to ignore the topic in a fully realized examination of Vick and his impact.
As the senior editor of the piece, Raina Kelley, pointed out on CNN [see video below] rather than use vague arguments that skirt the issue, we chose to address it head on.
First, in a thoughtful essay by Toure. And, just as important for magazines, with art that lended power to the concept.
In the past, designers have challenged readers to consider their views on race by portraying a black Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II.
We had several conversations about how to support the essay with imagery that made people think as much as the words did.
Ultimately, the resulting treatment felt like the strongest way to answer the question so many have been asking.