Sunday, 19 February 2012

What if ESPN '30 for 30' came a knocking?

It's Black History Month in North America and this got me thinking about some great stories about black athletes and how the world has moved light-years on from where we were in the 80s.

When Doug Williams (pictured above) became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl (playing for the Washington Redskins in 1988) he proved to the planet that skin colour doesn't matter when it comes to winning a big game, its about the size of your heart.

Williams story is remarkable, from being a first round pick in 1978 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to ten years later winning a Vince Lombardi trophy and a Super Bowl MVP award.

The story of Doug Williams, I think, should be a special two-hour documentary, much like the superb ESPN 30 for 30 series.

'30 for 30' is a series of 30 sports documentaries, filmed by famous directors, celebrating 30 years of North American sport. As you would expect there are some amazing American Football stories that form the '30 for 30' series, six of the best so to speak:
  • Pony Excess - about the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Mustangs college football team who in the 80s used illegal payments to recruit the best team in the nation
  • Small Potatoes Who killed the USFL - about the 80s spring league the USFL that rivalled the NFL before it died a premature death
  • The U - about the Miami Hurricanes college football team and the way their team changed the attitude of American Football players forever (think swagger!)
  • Run Ricky Run - about Ricky Williams the running back and how he went from the saviour of a franchise (New Orleans Saints) to a weed smoking dropout to coming back to the NFL
  • The best that never was - about college mega-stud running back Marcus Dupree and how he was supposed to become the greatest running back in a generation
  • The band that wouldn't die - about the Baltimore Colts marching band who played on despite the team moving in the middle of the night to Indianapolis
Having watched all six when they have popped up on ESPN Classic I have to say I have been mesmerised. My favourite out of the six was Small Potatoes, as it had some amazing footage of the USFL, which used to boast Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, Steve Young and Bobby Hebert, and Doug Williams. What was most fascinating for any USA Apprentice fans was that the USFL owner of the New Jersey Generals was none other than Donald 'syrup of figs' Trump.

All this made me think, what if I worked for ESPN and had to commission some further American Football based documentaries - well here goes, and if you got this far you can guess the first one pretty easily.
  • How long have you been a black quarterback? - Named after a question posed by a journalist to Doug Williams before Super Bowl XXII this would be the story of Doug from his days at Grambling University, to his USFL and then NFL days and then some of the story of him coaching. Ending on the fact Doug is still the only black qb to win a Super Bowl.
  • Friendly Fire - Named after Pat Tillman R.I.P. who died from Friendly Fire in Afghanistan, having quit a lucrative career in the NFL to become a corporal in the US Army
  • Can you double bag it please? - Named after Kurt Warner, former NFL quarterback who went from supermarket shelf stacker to Super Bowl MVP, as well as taking the Arizona Cardinals to the big dance (a feat I don't think ill see again in my lifetime)
  • Scoops - Named after Scott Couper the skinny white kid who went from the Glasgow Lions amateur team to win a World Bowl title in NFL Europe and play for the Chicago Bears

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