Here Are 8 ESPN ’30 For 30’s That Must Be Made
ESPN proved yet again several years ago that their audience will watch long-form storytelling, even if the focus isn’t exactly on sports, as long as the story is told in A+ fashion. Their 30 For 30 series has been nothing short of fantastic, and monumental for the network as a whole. OJ: Made In America won the network its first Oscar this past year; the film was roughly 8 hours long.
The only parameters for an amazing ESPN 30 For 30? There must be an amazing story to tell that hasn’t yet been told in great detail. And the story being told must have originally occurred during the ESPN era (1979 -).
Below are just eight sports documentaries I feel should be made asap.
See these pictures? This is what Rio looks like just one year after the Olympic games were held there. Just 12 months! Some would argue that FIFA and the International Olympic Committee are two of the most evil and corrupt organizations on Earth. While the crime may be more politically related in the Olympics realm, some justice has been served on the FIFA side; 16 officials were arrested in 2015 for racketeering, money laundering and fraud. And everyone knows it's all just the tip of the iceberg. How else does a country like Qatar (hot as Mars) win the right to host the World Cup? The death toll of slaves building the stadium continues to climb and countries want the rights stripped.
(Photo: Protesters hold a banner depicting victims of Bahrain's anti-regime protests as they demonstrate against the candidacy of Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa on the sidelines of the extraordinary FIFA Congress during which a new president will be elected in Zurich on February 26, 2016. The 50-year-old is a senior member of the Bahraini royal family and has substantial support amongst football's powermongers. But human rights groups have accused him of being involved in the arrest and torture of footballers involved in the 2011 civil protests when he was head of the Bahrain Football Association. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images))
The most beloved Cubs broadcaster of all-time had enough stories to fill Fort Knox. Born into a rough family environment in the St. Louis suburbs, Caray actually spent more time broadcasting for the rival Cardinals. But there would be plenty of plot twists throughout his career; rumors of butting heads with players, affairs, possibly a 'hit' on his life when he was fired in St. Louis. He was also a stranger to many members of his family, but not his diary that he kept of his drinking-capades; who he drank with and when, which essentially would fill every day of the calendar. Love him or hate him, there's no doubt his life was fascinating and it wouldn't be hard to find people who could talk about him.
Any baseball fan growing up in the 90s remembers the chase of '98. Not one, but two players, both hitting home runs at a record-clip, approaching Roger Maris' record of 61 from 1961. Not only was the record broken in '98. It was shattered. Mac hit 70 for the Cardinals and Sosa would finish with 66. Although MLB embraced 'the chase' because it brought back many fans following the '94 strike, it would also prove to doom the sport once people realized how much 'help' the players got from PEDs such as steroids or Human Growth Hormones. Because the PEDs weren't banned in 1998, McGwire and Sosa -- and every other player who used PEDs during this era -- weren't doing anything illegal or out of code. Yet, every single player who has been connected to PEDs since is looked down upon, stripped of any chance of making the Hall of Fame or accepted socially as one of the all-time greats.
Thompson was the most electrifying player in the NBA during the beginning of his short career in the late 70s. The 6-5 guard was nicknamed 'Skywalker,' and was known for his high-flying dunks and masterful scoring. The first pick in the 1975 NBA Draft was an immediate star for the Nuggets, earning Rookie of the Year honors, scoring 26 points a game. He even went to 5 All-Star games and very easily could have been Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan if cocaine hadn't derailed his career.
On top of the world, Hernandez was an All-American tight end and national champion who was an integral part of the Brady/Belichick Patriots offense from 2010-2012. But what would appear to be a story of redemption would prove to be nothing but a short facade. Hernandez would be charged with murder in 2013. In fact, he was connected to several crimes and several murders. Even though he was acquitted for a double murder in Boston from 2012, Hernandez hung himself inside his prison cell on April 19, 2017.
(Photo: BOSTON, MA - MARCH 2: Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits at the defense table during his double murder trial at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Mar. 2, 2017. Hernandez is charged in the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado who he encountered in a Boston nightclub. The former NFL football player already is serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images))
Sure, Will Smith made the movie. But the NFL will forever be dealing with the realization that smashing your head into other men, helmet or not, turns your brain into Swiss cheese. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is real. It's not going anywhere anytime soon. And neither is the laundry list of players who die with the disease, those who die even earlier from brain trauma, or decide to retire early because of CTE.
(Photo: BOSTON, MA - MAY 31: Dr. Ann C. McKee, Director of Boston Universitys CTE Center and Chief of Neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, analyzes brain tissue at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston on May 31, 2017. Boston researchers who studied the brains of 202 deceased football players have published the most detailed portrait to date of the devastation wrought by a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head. The study presents the largest number of CTE cases ever published and puts to rest any remaining arguments about whether the disease exists, said McKee, the studys lead author. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images))
From my buddy Tyler Yoder, who wrote the perfect tease line: "What if I told you they don't just build furniture and churn butter....they are also bad ass softball players." ... It's true. From an Amish community myself, the Amish teens who go on Rumpspringa love nothing more than hitting the diamond like young bats out of Helsinki, while chugging Amish beer (Mountain Dew) and listening to early Sum 41 hits. They have their own language on and off the field, they're great at the sport, and it's incredibly fascinating to watch, even for an insider like myself. The only tricky part is getting them on camera. As to why they can play softball and not baseball? I have no clue.
On November 14, 2004 an unparalleled brawl erupted in Detroit between not only the Pacers and Pistons, but fans as well ... Upon an on-court scuffle, a fan threw a cup of liquid at Pacers guard Ron Artest. Then, all hell broke loose ... Artest entered the stands, the ugliest player/fan brawl in American professional sports history then ensued, a fight that stretched onto the court between several players and fans. The NBA suspended nine players for a total of nearly 150 games. Five of those players were charged with assault. Five fans faced criminal charges and were banned from attending Pistons games for life ... There were plenty of factors that led to this fight and the result following the brawl still resonates in the NBA to this day.