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ESPN's 30 For 30


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#1

AimingforYoko

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Posted Oct 6, 2009 @ 4:05 PM

ESPN may have produced the increasingly annoying Chris Berman, overemphasized the highlight in sport and overcovered nonsense (Breaking News: Brett Favre sighted in Waffle House bathroom!) But once in a while they come up with a really good idea like SportsCentury. This has a chance to be as good as that.
Starting tonight on ESPN:

Inspired by ESPN’s anniversary, ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 is an unprecedented documentary series featuring thirty films from some of today’s finest storytellers. Each filmmaker will bring their passion and personal point of view to their film detailing the issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.


Starting tonight with Peter Berg's (Friday Night Lights) film about Edmonton's trade of Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings, King's Ransom.
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#2

iliketowel

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Posted Oct 6, 2009 @ 9:34 PM

I thought it was pretty cool stuff. I like the idea of a different director every week.

I love Peter Berg, but man... he needs to lay off the jump cuts once in a while. Also, he really, really loves Explosions in the Sky. Everything he does, I hear their music in the background.
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#3

EllisCarver

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Posted Oct 13, 2009 @ 1:31 PM

Kings Ransom was a great documentary. Really nailed the impact of that colossal trade.

Tonight is Levinson's The Band That Wouldn't Die about the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, who continued to play even after their team left (in the middle of the night).
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#4

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Posted Oct 13, 2009 @ 11:09 PM

I think Levinson told a better story tonight than Berg did in the first film. Much more compelling figures, IMO--and that's despite the magnitude of Gretzky's fame.

I look forward to following this series each week.
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#5

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Posted Oct 13, 2009 @ 11:11 PM

The Band was nice, but it's really hard to feel all that sympathy for Baltimore given how they turned around and stabbed Cleveland in the back the exact same way. It's like if Brooklyn turned around and in 1965 stole the Cubs.
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#6

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Posted Oct 14, 2009 @ 7:40 AM

For me, the most interesting part was the short section about Irsay. Although anger is the first reaction I have with respect to the way he treated the people of Baltimore, the story they told of his alcoholism and how it affected his mental ability was kind of sad.
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#7

vildachaia

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Posted Oct 14, 2009 @ 1:38 PM

For me, the most interesting part was the short section about Irsay. Although anger is the first reaction I have with respect to the way he treated the people of Baltimore, the story they told of his alcoholism and how it affected his mental ability was kind of sad.

I have to agree. Watching footage of that press conference was uncomfortable at best. And watching his son talk about it was equally painful.
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#8

ZeroForce

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Posted Oct 14, 2009 @ 1:40 PM

Crocktacularity, I think that Levinson did as well as he could with the situation, with the band members saying explicitly - "good God, I didn't want it like this, because of all people, we know how Cleveland feels."

However, I would also have to say that Modell's departure from Cleveland pales in comparison to Irsay's departure from Baltimore. Modell didn't have Mayflower trucks before dawn, didn't do drunken interviews where he flat out lied, and wasn't a complete bastard as Irsay apparently became.

I don't blame Cleveland for refusing to perform a huge wealth transfer just to keep the Browns in town - that's the one lesson learned by all owners from the Colts, and it's a shitty one if you're a taxpayer or a fan (Seattle Sonics fans, for one, can sympathize with Baltimore Colts fans).

Modell is, I think, rightfully hated by Cleveland (and apparently David Modell, who came off really well in this piece, was a completely useless rich boy who was best known for nose candy habits). But I can't blame Baltimore in this instance. I can blame Tagliabue for awarding franchises which are now floundering (seriously, how many blackouts does Jacksonville need to have before they move that damn team) to the wrong cities. I can blame Irsay. But I can't blame Colts fans.
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#9

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Posted Oct 16, 2009 @ 1:36 PM

ZeroForce I agree that Levinson did the best with what he had, and the band was a compelling story. The sort of glossing over the Cleveland thing was interesting. I was surprised by how Modell apparently welcomed the Colts band, which in light of what came later was weird foreshadowing. At the same time, I really felt it glossed over a few things about the Ravens saga. I didn't like the way it more or less painted the band as heroes for marching to the capital in support of subsidized municipal stadia for rich pro sports franchises over other necessary budget things. When thrown on top of the way they treated the Cleveland thing, it was just a hairs shade too close to hagiography for me. I do also agree that the NFL's expansion to Jacksonville was silly: Does Florida need three pro teams on top of three major college programs? There just aren't enough consumers there, and it shows.
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#10

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Posted Oct 20, 2009 @ 3:38 AM

Modell is, I think, rightfully hated by Cleveland (and apparently David Modell, who came off really well in this piece, was a completely useless rich boy who was best known for nose candy habits). But I can't blame Baltimore in this instance. I can blame Tagliabue for awarding franchises which are now floundering (seriously, how many blackouts does Jacksonville need to have before they move that damn team) to the wrong cities. I can blame Irsay. But I can't blame Colts fans.


Except in 1993, awarding the Carolina franchise made sense as Charlotte in those days was beginning to become much more of a major league market (and in fact, had the Panthers not gotten off to an 0-5 start in 1995, they might have actually made the playoffs in their first year of existance). What I think may have been why Jacksonville, and not Baltimore got the other expansion franchise may have had a lot to do with the same reason Washington didn't get another baseball team until MLB transferred the Expos from Montreal to where they became the Nationals: Territorial issues.

If you remember, Jack Kent Cooke still owned the Redskins at the time the 1995 expansion teams were announced. I'm thinking that behind the scenes, Cooke might have demanded too much from the NFL to give Baltimore an expansion franchise, and as I remember Cooke, as one of the "old guard" of NFL owners at the time may have had too much influence to allow Baltimore to get an expansion team.

That said, what I do think Tagliabue should have done in 1995 when the Browns moved to Baltimore was this: Demand the Irsays swap franchises with Modell, with the then-Browns moving to Indianpolis to replace a Colts team that would have, name and all, moved back to Baltimore (and this would have been if that had happened the second time an Irsay swapped a franchise, as back in the '70s Robert Irsay got the Colts from the late Carroll Rosenbloom in exchange for the Rams franchise Irsay had at the time (Rosenbloom died about a year after that happened, and his widow Georgia Frontierre took over the Rams, with of course the Rams ironically moving to another city that had previously lost an NFL franchise in St. Louis for the 1995 season). Short of the Irsays agreeing to swap the Colts for the Browns franchise (that would have in that scenario replaced the Colts in Indy), Tagliabue should have in retrospect demanded the Irsays give up the Colts name and allow that to go to Modell with the Browns to Baltimore, with the Indy franchise then given a new name in either instance (my choice would have been the Racers, with Indy Cars as the logo since of course the Indy 500 is probably what Indy is still best known for to many), and if necessary compensating the Irsays in some manner (whether it be extra draft picks or being guaranteed the #1 overall pick in the draft for a few years regardless of record and such picks being exempt from any salary cap and/or monetairly) to make it happen.

Given that even almost a decade and a half after the announcement of the old Browns moving to Baltimore that there are still a considerable number of old Colts fans, even with the Ravens winning a Super Bowl and making numerous playoff appearences that have never felt whole because it was not done as the Baltimore Colts, even now if I were Godell, I'd be trying to right what is still considered a wrong by some in Baltimore by working an arrangement that the Colts name goes back to Baltimore (with the Ravens in that scenario becoming the Baltimore Colts, and retroactively all records under the Ravens plus the pre-1984 Baltimore Colts history belonging to what would now be the Baltimore Colts once again) and the Indy franchise getting a new name, with its entire 26-year history in Indy (1984-present, including their Super Bowl win three seasons ago) going under whatever the new name the Indianapolis franchise got. That to me would give older Colts fans a true sense of closure.
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#11

ZeroForce

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Posted Oct 21, 2009 @ 12:16 AM

Good God, Donald Trump is an asshat.
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#12

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Posted Oct 21, 2009 @ 7:37 AM

The funniest part of the show was listening to everyone talk about how big an asshat he is (including Burt Reynolds).

I enjoyed the movie. Lots of humor, a little bit of tragedy and as a bonus, I finally got to see game footage of a friend of mine who played for the Philadelphia team.
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#13

Lantern7

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Posted Oct 21, 2009 @ 5:35 PM

"Who killed the USFL? Donald Trump. NEXT!" He did look better back in the Eighties. Just a little bit, mind you.

Good series so far. It brings me to the tube every Tuesday. I can't wait for the Steve Bartman episode, just so I can see Mike Wilbon's head explode from rage.
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#14

ZeroForce

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Posted Oct 21, 2009 @ 8:01 PM

At least we got reminded of what his real hair looked like. It really was rather impressive, no?
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#15

Wallyhorse

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Posted Oct 21, 2009 @ 8:27 PM

I was no secret Trump ruined the USFL in that regard, though I could see why he thought he could pull it off at the time (and I lived through that whole era when it actually happened, growing up in New York).

The one think Trump should have realized was had the USFL stayed a spring league, it may very well have continued to grow over time (though not as fast as some wanted). The quality of players in that league showed in the fact that you still had players who played in the USFL playing in the NFL as late as just a few years ago.

Edited by Wallyhorse, Oct 21, 2009 @ 8:27 PM.

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#16

BraeJayQ

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Posted Oct 22, 2009 @ 11:48 PM

Given that even almost a decade and a half after the announcement of the old Browns moving to Baltimore that there are still a considerable number of old Colts fans, even with the Ravens winning a Super Bowl and making numerous playoff appearences that have never felt whole because it was not done as the Baltimore Colts, even now if I were Godell, I'd be trying to right what is still considered a wrong by some in Baltimore by working an arrangement that the Colts name goes back to Baltimore (with the Ravens in that scenario becoming the Baltimore Colts, and retroactively all records under the Ravens plus the pre-1984 Baltimore Colts history belonging to what would now be the Baltimore Colts once again) and the Indy franchise getting a new name, with its entire 26-year history in Indy (1984-present, including their Super Bowl win three seasons ago) going under whatever the new name the Indianapolis franchise got. That to me would give older Colts fans a true sense of closure.


My dad is one of those fans.

I've asked him if the Browns had become the Colts would he be a fan (because he's not a fan of the Ravens or the Indianapolis Colts he's a fan of the Baltimore Colts). His answer, no. For him and, at least for the "old timers" I've met, the Colts ended when they left Baltimore. Any new team, even if they were called the Colts, wouldn't be "The Colts."
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#17

AimingforYoko

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Posted Oct 27, 2009 @ 9:04 PM

Tonight's installment, Muhammad and Larry, was very well done but it was just sad. Sad to see Ali at the start of his decline, clinging to his past. Sad to see Holmes' bitterness at never getting what he deemed was his due. Ferdie Pacheco was direct and entertaining as always.
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#18

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Posted Oct 28, 2009 @ 2:32 AM

Yeah, this one (and they've all been at least good if not awesome) was just so depressing.

I guess I see some bitterness in Holmes - but honestly, mostly what I see is a pretty well-adjusted guy who's still with the first woman he married, happy living in the town where he grew up. Unlike the other heavyweights who lived too damn large, Holmes (with the same questionable unretirements all fighters seem to do) is a decent guy that deserves far more respect than he gets.

If he's bitter, he's justifiably bitter, I think.
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#19

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Posted Oct 28, 2009 @ 10:06 AM

Another well done episode. As noted, really depressing. For me, outside of the actual fight, the thirty seconds they showed Ali fumbling with the speed bag was the worst part. Even discounting the benefit of hindsight, it's clear he shouldn't have been in the ring.

It's a really interesting counterpoint to When We Were Kings where an underdog Ali did manage to find the magic and win.

I actually thought Holmes' wife sounded more bitter than he did and agree that Holmes' came off as a decent guy.
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#20

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Posted Oct 28, 2009 @ 11:32 AM

Bad news . . . there are only three installments left for this year. "Without Bias" airs next week, followed by "The Legend Of Jimmy The Greek," and "The U" airs in December.
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#21

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Posted Oct 29, 2009 @ 3:12 PM

I'm really loving this series, even as different as the installments are; I'm just so late in getting to watch them, though, that it's hard to keep up with the comments here. In terms of what's coming up, I'm rather interested in The U, mainly because I know nearly nothing about the details of that.

This will be a very interesting box set.

(On a side note, I was a big fan of The Bronx is Burning, and I'm really pleasantly surprised that ESPN films decided to (continue) to make such a big commitment to sports documentaries. Can't imagine that the ratings are amazing, but the product is certainly excellent).
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#22

BettyFiona

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Posted Nov 21, 2009 @ 10:59 PM

I am loving these documentaries. Very well done. "Without Bias" was heartbreaking. I never knew his brother was killed some years later. How sad for the family. "Jimmy the Greek" was heartbreaking as well.
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#23

AimingforYoko

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Posted Nov 22, 2009 @ 11:27 AM

Yeah, have you noticed that most of these docs have been a great big bummer? I'm ready for the 'U' doc.
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#24

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Posted Dec 13, 2009 @ 1:18 PM

"The U" certainly wasn't depressing. I thought it was pretty good. They did a good job of describing the "us vs. everyone else" attitude the team had. Including Luther Campbell was a smart way to develop the story of how the team was bigger than their sport, with their actions expanding into questions of culture and race.

Unfortunately it was too long. Although the player anecdotes were funny (especially calling Bosworth before the bowl game and Irving threatening gangsters), there were to many of them.
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#25

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Posted Dec 13, 2009 @ 2:10 PM

Not only did they change college football culturally, by the way the NCAA responded with excessive celebration penalties and no taking your helmet off on the field, but they changed the way college football was played especially on offense. The speed Miami had on defense almost single-handedly killed the wishbone and they were one of the first teams to display a pro-style offense. It was one of the main reasons they upset Nebraska in '83, they hadn't faced many offenses like the Hurricanes.
I love how they portrayed Miami president Thad Foote as Dean Wormer. He pretty much was the WASPiest WASP that ever WASPed.
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#26

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Posted Dec 13, 2009 @ 5:50 PM

I'm really enjoying this series, too. I don't really find Miami U football that interesting but the documentary was well done. I'm still very upset that I haven't been able to see the Jimmy the Greek one.

I'm excited for what's coming up -- the Marion Jones one, the Invictus one, the fantasy sports one, and the Mike Tyson one all really pique my interest. I have a feeling the ones that, topic-wise, seem uninteresting to me will still manage to be interesting (except the Michael Jordan one).
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#27

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Posted Dec 15, 2009 @ 11:28 PM

Yeah, have you noticed that most of these docs have been a great big bummer? I'm ready for the 'U' doc.


The doc was funny as hell. Good job on Billy Corben not inserting himself all over the place like some of the other doc directors.

I've seen all the docs, and I've like all of them except for the Wayne Gretsky one. I had to stopped watching it after five minutes, because I couldn't follow the narrative. It was too stylized. As much as I like non traditional narratives, if I can't figure out what the hell the filmmaker is talking about, I think it's safe to say you were a bit too heavy handed in the editting department.

On a personal note, I agree with Drew Rosenthall, as distasteful some of those celebration antics are, football should take the collective stick out of their asses about over celebrating.

A little fun never hurt anyone, just as long as the celebrating doesn't make the game longer than it already is.
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#28

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Posted Dec 20, 2009 @ 5:11 PM

Watching the Jimmy "The Greek" episode and him talking to Jesse Jackson (after "The Greek's" infamous slavery rant), I wouldn't help but think of that South Park episode in which Randy Marsh has to literally kiss Jesse Jackson's ass after saying the n-word on Wheel of Fortune. "Jesse Jackson isn't the emperor of black people!!!" to borrow from Token.
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#29

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Posted Dec 26, 2009 @ 12:09 AM

Watching the Miami U film, it's too me, a bit unfair to blame Butch Davis for the 'Canes' lean years for most of the '90s. All of that stuff concerning NCAA sanctions being placed on Miami occurred towards the end of the Dennis Erickson regime. Erickson struck me as kind of a meek caretaker (unlike Howard Schnellenberger or Jimmy Johnson), who pretty much let the inmates run the asylum (a la the infamous '91 Cotton Bowl episode). Davis going in, had the cards stacked against him so to speak due to the lack of scholarships. So in essence, Davis rebuilt the Miami program to the point in which they were once again National Championship quality by 2000-2001 (when Davis left).
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#30

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Posted Jan 11, 2010 @ 12:46 AM

I thought Bernie Kosar was looking a little rough in the 'Canes documentary, but I didn't know it was this bad. Bankrupt Kosar's assets to be sold to pay off creditors.
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