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More 30 for 30? 30+ Interesting Film Projects ESPN Should Consider

Colin LobdellContributor IJanuary 15, 2011

More 30 for 30? 30+ Interesting Film Projects ESPN Should Consider

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The first 30 films are complete and I’d like to think I’m not the only one who has enjoyed the series.  In fact, I know I’m not since more projects are in the works.

    Among those upcoming subjects include Steve Bartman’s interference and a rumored documentary on the University of Michigan’s Fab Five.

    I realize that these projects depend more on the filmmakers and the projects they wish to pick up, but there are still some interesting subjects that ESPN should seek filmmakers for (or rather already have, but haven't found any takers with a new spin).

    These are, of course, films I would like to see.

    I tried to abstain from those that got too much media coverage and happened transparently before our eyes or still have perhaps another chapter similar to the way the series is conducted now, but some still remain.

    I also recognize a certain degree of bias which is why I would like to open a discussion and get more ideas (Hockey, Auto Racing stories, anyone?). 

    Herewith, are more suggestions for the series.  Your comments are very welcome.

    Remember, every team and program has a story to tell…

No-Huddle: The 1989-92 Buffalo Bills

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    From 1989 to 1992 the Buffalo Bills reached the Super Bowl four straight times, but failed to win one including a one-point loss in the Super Bowl 25, missing a field goal in the final seconds. 

    Noted for their upstart “no-huddle offense” and uncanny never-say-die mentality that led to the greatest comeback in the history of the game in the 1992 playoffs, the Bills grabbed the hearts of Buffalo and the sympathy of a nation.

    Even if they are missing a trophy they are one of the most talented, consistent and exciting group of players to not win a title.

Marinermania: The 1995 Seattle Mariners

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Ken Griffey Jr. was in his prime and a miraculous comeback in the AL West and tremendous ALDS against the Yankees perhaps saved baseball in Seattle, which had struggled to catch on in the city due to years of futility, having only two winning seasons since 1969 and facing a stadium vote.

    The final manic eight weeks of 1995 season made this team a story to remember and packed the once empty Kingdome into a Mariner hotbed while the city graveled towards radios and televisions to follow and catch every moment.

Go Zags!: Gonzaga Captivates The Nation

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    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    The star has certainly faded, but Gonzaga became the first mid-major to really captivate the nation.  Suddenly Spokane, Washington was on the map to many easterners and "Go Zags!" was a familiar phrase.

    As Gus Johnson put it "The slipper still fits!" as the 10th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs danced to the 1999 Elite Eight beating Minnesota, Stanford and Florida -- thus capturing the nation's fancy and elevating mid-major basketball.

    First led by coach Dan Monson, the program has continued to prosper under Mark Few, but their initial years in the late 90's were a heartwarming story with a lasting impact on the game.

Bo Knows: Bo Jackson Becomes Two-Sport Star

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    After winning the Heisman trophy at Auburn, Bo Jackson elected to play baseball where he rose up the ranks with the Kansas City Royals before deciding to play football as well with the L.A. Raiders. 

    Bo elected baseball initially due to the roughness of the football.  His football career ended when he was tackled from behind suffering a hip injury, in turn leaving many to wonder what might've been had he remained healthy.

    Jackson would continue his baseball career, but was far from the same player.

Bull Dominance: Chicago Bulls Of The 90's

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Equipped with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and a host of other support players, the Bulls became the most dominant team in the NBA.  So good in fact that some questioned whether or not they were hurting the league. 

    After a dominating string that may never be matched including a stellar 72-10 regular season record in 1995-96, the Bulls then disbanded and left the franchise to rebuild from the ground up. 

    However, their greatness still resonates.

Ichiro Mania: Far West Import Grabs Nation's Attention

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Sticking with the idea of "Fernando Nation", Ichiro Suzuki (or just Ichiro) took baseball by storm when he entered the league garnering the nickname "Wizard" from his teammates.

    Demonstrating unusually good bat control, speed and defense, Ichiro became a fan favorite and Japanese icon in the United States.

    The attention on Ichiro has faded somewhat, but he has remained a star while also breaking George Sisler's record for hits in a season.

All In The Family: Valpo and The Drews

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    Homer Drew, head coach of Valparaiso, had to go into his own living room and recruit his own son Bryce.  Bryce eventually choose Valpo and ended up canning one the most memorable buzzer beaters in tournament history.  Valpo would go on to the Sweet 16 in 1998.

    Homer's other son Scott would succeed him at Valpo before taking the job at Baylor.  Homer then reclaimed his position.  Bryce has since been hired as an assistant on the staff.

Miracle Worker: Bill Snyder's Turnaround at Kansas State

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    Upon Bill Snyder being hired, Sports Illustrated dubbed Kansas State, with its horrific play in front of an empty dump of a stadium, to be the worst College Football program ever coining the appropriate nickname “Futility U”  as a tribute.  The season before Bill Snyder was hired, Kansas State had become the first program to ever lose 500 games and were riding a 27-game winless streak (0-26-1). 

    Through tireless practices, scheduling soft non-conference opponents, finding bright up-and-coming assistants and milking junior colleges for key players, head coach Bill Snyder led the greatest turnaround in the history of the sport.

    A tragic overtime loss in the 1998 Big 12 Championship cost Kansas State a shot at the national title, but they won the Big 12 Championship in 2003 and were the 10th-winningest program in the nation from 1993-2003. 

Art Broke Cleveland's Heart: Art Modell Moves The Browns

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    It seemed unfathomable to the people of the Cleveland that they could lose the Browns, but with the rise of new state-of-the-art revenue generating stadiums it became reality even for the city that loved its football team.

    Heartbreak wasn't new to Cleveland and especially for the Browns who had suffered through "The Drive" and "The Fumble" in the 80's (another interesting idea), but if you are going to have a documentary about Baltimore rejoining the NFL ranks, you must acknowledge what the city of Cleveland went through and how they lost their team even though they would return.

    Also the Houston Oilers could be an interesting study.  A talented team that never lived up to its potential and the events that led to their departure.

Tark The Shark: Jerry Tarkanian, UNLV, and The NCAA

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    "Tark the Shark" was best remembered for winning, his chew towel and battling the NCAA. The NCAA even once attempted to pressure UNLV into suspending Tarkanian for two seasons in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Coining the term "Runnin' Rebels" for UNLV due to their up-tempo style and ability to put on long scoring runs, Tarkanian was slapped with NCAA violations at each stop he made (Long Beach State, UNLV, Fresno State) despite being 5-1 in court battles with the NCAA.

    Through all this, Tarkanian kept winning even as many viewed him as either corrupt or misunderstood and looked at UNLV as a school potentially selling its soul for basketball glory.

Playing Field To Battlefield: Pat Tillman

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    We are aware of the story, but one that still could be told.  Tillman joined the Army in June of 2002, along with his brother who gave up his professional baseball dreams, in the aftermath of the Sept.11th attacks -- in turn leaving millions of the dollars and gridiron glory behind.

    After being redeployed to Afghanistan, he was killed in action with a messy investigation in waiting.

    A study of Pat Tillman and his decision to turn down a dream job for countless Americans could be the focus of a documentary.

Heroes to Zeroes: Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa

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    Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    In the summer of 1998, McGwire and Sosa captivated the country and brought fans back to a game still suffering to mend itself from the strike four years earlier.

    Baseball was once again back in the hearts and minds of many who had aliented the game to see the two sluggers chase Roger Maris’ magic number 61*.

    Now, Sosa and McGwire live in exile with scarlett letters of performancing enhancing drug use hanging over them after McGwire finally admitted it and Sosa was revealed to have tested positive in what was supposed to be an undisclosed test. 

    Neither is now expected to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    But despite their current states the impact they had on the game was undeniable even if we are left questioning the integrity of sport and what we now think of these two men.

Niner Dual: Steve Young and Joe Montana

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    After serving as a backup to Joe Montana for four seasons, Young stepped in as starter in 1991 when Montana went down with an elbow injury.  Finally given his chance to shine, Young posted stellar numbers, but failed to capture the hearts of 49er fans who were loyal to Montana.

    At one time, Young was discussed in trade talks with the Los Angeles Raiders, before it was revealed that Montana would not return as quickly from his injury as thought.  Young played well again, despite a slow start, and Montana was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs where he would later meet Montana in a dual.

    After seeing Montana reach Super Bowl glory for the 49ers, Young was left a heavy burden, but eventually broke through winning the 1994 Super Bowl and throwing six touchdowns in the game.

    In turn, Young finally achieved hard-earned acceptance from a city with high standards set by another hall of fame quarterback.

Magnificent Seven: Kerri Strug and 1996 Olympics Gymnastics Team

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    A member of the "Magnificent Seven" of the 1996 Women's Gymnastics team, Strug sealed the gold medal for the team when she vaulted on seriously injured ankle and planted on one foot.

    Her coach Bela Karolyi was forced to pick her up and carry her after the vault.

    Just four years earlier she was the youngest member of the US Gymnastics team and, after a rash of injuries nearly wrecked her career, made the team four years later again.

    Strug became a national icon and appeared on Wheaties boxes and had her high voice poked at with friendly humor on SNL.

Say It Ain't So, Danny: Danny Almonte

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    Danny Almonte became a star in the Little League World Series standing tall on the mound for the "Baby Bombers" and earning the nickname "The Little Unit."

    However, suspicion about his age grew as his presence appeared to be too overpowering for a 12-year old.

    Despite the feel-good story that saw his team honored at a game at Yankee stadium, Almonte eventually became an afterthought after it was revealed through an investigation that he was in fact two years too old to be in the Series.

    Almonte would later play semi-pro baseball and has since returned to Bronx, New York volunteer coaching his high school alma mater's baseball team at one point.

Boys Will Be Boys: The 1990's Dallas Cowboys

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    After finishing 1-15 in 1989, the Cowboys brought in a herd of young talent assisted in part by a trade of Herschel Walker to the Vikings to build the best team of the 90's.

    However, the glory days also involved party nights as detailed well in Jeff Pearlman's book.

    A documentary should cover the rise and collapse of the franchise in the same way "The U" film did and include Jimmy Johnson's relationship with owner Jerry Jones.

True Huskers: Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer

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    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    One of the most dominate teams in the history of college football in the mid-90’s, Nebraska suddenly had a simmering feud between its two quarterbacks when Tommie Frazier (don’t call him Tom or Thomas) was suffering from a blood clot issue and Berringer stepped in. 

    No matter whom the Huskers plugged in they were dominant, but Frazier would reclaim his spot and lead the Huskers to back-to-back national titles. 

    After his senior season, Berringer would die in a plane crash and Frazier’s health would prevent him from advancing as a football player ultimately retiring after a short stint in the CFL.

Hard Court: Monica Seles and Her Comeback

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    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    On top of the tennis world in 1993, Monica Seles was stabbed by a crazy Steffi Graf fan (the man had no relation to Graf) at a match.  Seles was so shaken by the incident that she left tennis for two years before reemerging on the international scene.

    Her attacker was given a relatively light sentence citing insanity, but that incident changed the way tennis regulated security and how Seles approached her future.

Replacement Professionals: the 1994 MLB Strike

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    I don't see just a documentary on the Baseball Strike being all that intriguing.  An interesting twist could by through the eyes of the replacement players, some of whom were given their only shot to wear a big league uniform.

    From this perspective you could view the owners and players struggle while giving insight to the players who are largely forgotten but were given their one chance to shine.

What Might Have Been: Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Once seen as the future of the Mets, the careers of both men were marred by off-the-field problems that hampered both men from achieving their full potential.

    Both players would later rejoin each other as members of the crosstown Yankees, but many are left to wonder just how good for how long the Mets could have been had their two stars remained on the field and away from the troubles that hurt their performance on it.

Queen Marge: Marge Schott and the Cincinnati Reds

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    Born and raised in Cincinnati, Schott became the first female owner to buy a major league franchise rather than inheriting it.

    Schott was praised for keeping the Reds family friendly by keeping ticket prices low, signing autographs and having activities for kids including letting them on the field after games.

    However, she was noted for unusual behavior that only contributed to her visibility including making racial comments, once asking a team executive why they had scouts on the payroll when "all they do is watch ball games" and letting her dogs on the field to debrief themselves.

    Schott eventually sold her majority in the team but still lived in Cincinnati contributing huge sums to charitable organizations until her death in 2001.

Heavy Hearts: 1993 Navy Football

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    Prior to the 1993 Army-Navy game, Navy quarterback Alton Grizzard was murdered in California when he was consoling a naval coed who had just broken off her engagement.  Her crazed and jealous fiancee shot both of them before turning the gun on himself.  Grizzard was the team's unquestioned leader and all-time leader in total offense at the time.

    Left to mourn, Navy players wore black arm bands and stickers labeled "Griz" on their helmets in remembrance when they faced Army.

    The game came down to an 18-year-old kicker named Ryan Bucchianeri, who had once claimed he would win the Army-Navy game with a perfect kick, and an 18-yard field goal from the right hashmark.  The only problem was the kicked sailed wide right and Army took the game 16-14.

    When Navy returned home after the game, they learned three of their squad members had been killed in a freak car accident on Route 450 a mile from campus.

    However, with heaving hearts, Navy and Bucchianeri plowed ahead with their duties as every midshipman must.

World Series For Sale: 1997 Florida Marlins

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Before the 1997 season, the Marlins went on a spending spree securing the talents of such players as Kevin Brown and Gary Sheffield.

    For his investment, owner Wayne Wayne Huizenga was rewarded with a 92-win season and a wild card berth that eventually culminated in a World Series victory.

    However, the victory was short-lived, as an ensuing firesale took place and left the franchise to finish dead last in the game the next season at 54-108.

Showdown In Seoul: Ben Johnson Versus Carl Lewis

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    The shy Jamaican immigrant from Canada faced off against American Carl Lewis in one of the most anticipated races in the history of sport.

    Johnson blew away the field and won in then world record time of 9.79. 

    However, Johnson then tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was left in disgrace after forfeiting the gold medal to his rival Carl Lewis.

    The story of both men are intriguing and how and why they became rivals, but also gives notice to the fact that Johnson still considers himself a scapegoat for a corrupt sport.

Deadly Silence: Reggie Lewis Dies Of Heart Failure

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    Playing for the hometown Boston Celtics, Reggie Lewis was averaging over 20 points a game his last two seasons at the age of 27. 

    However, he had collapsed during the playoffs the season before and a few months later in an offseason practice he collapsed and died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a common condition found in the deaths of young athletes.

Fired: Bob Knight Dismissed at Indiana

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Bob Knight won three national titles at Indiana and has since become the winningest college basketball ever.  However, he is still haunted by his ouster at Indiana and the definition of "zero tolerance."

    Indiana has since struggled to find itself and Knight never approached the same success he had at Indiana.

"Down The Road" Projects and Others

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    1. Always Compete: Pete Carroll and USC

    Pete Carroll came to USC after being considered a failure at the next level and built the most dominated team of the era.  However, he left in the midst of NCAA sanctions.

    2. Who Dat?: Saints Win Super Bowl in Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

    A city still rebuilding from the damage of a devastating hurricane saw its team that had battled a history of futility and being transplanted by the hurricane reach and win their first Super Bowl.

    3. All Things Possible: Kurt Warner

    Once stocking groceries and working out at his alma mater (Northern Iowa) to keep his NFL dream alive, Warner got his chance in 1999 and took off winning a Super Bowl and reaching two others.

    4. Goal of the Century: Diego Maradona

    Remembered for skipping between six english defenders at one time and scoring a miraculous goal, Maradona battled cocaine addiction and other health issues to comeback and coach the Argentine national team.  However, he is now fighting tax problems.

    5. Tony Hawk and the Emergence of Extreme Sports

    Before Hawk, skateboarding and other extreme sports were viewed as a crazy and careless kids, but Hawk promoted and spread the sports making them common today.

    6. Michael Vick Project

    This story will need to play out as certainly another chapter exists.

    7. 3:53: Alan Webb

    After showing great potential as a teenager breaking Jim Ryun’s national high school record in the mile run (3:53.43), Webb slowly faded on the international circuit, but will have a chance to redeem himself in the upcoming Summer Olympics.

    8. Seen, But Not Herd: Randy Moss and Marshall

    After assaulting a fellow student in high school, losing his scholarships at Notre Dame and Florida State (the latter for a positive drug test), Randy Moss ended up at Marshall leading a revival of a program still licking its wounds from a devastating plane crash.  But Moss cared little about Marshall before having a whirlwind NFL Career.

    9. Freddy Adu

    Still young, but sticking with the concept "The Best that Never Was", Adu was once heralded as a prodigy and signed his first pro contract at age 14.  However, he is largely forgotten now.  Ickey Woods was another talented, but forgotten player, but was not as talented as Dupree or Adu in his sport.

    10. Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma

    Tennessee and UConn have ruled women's college basketball for a better part of two decades now, but Summitt refuses to play UConn due to what she perceives as unfair recruiting practices.  Still their story and connection to the era is too great and future clashes between the two are inevitable.

    11. John McEnroe Project

    Known for his fiery temper and rivalry with Bjorn Borg, there is likely a McEnroe documentary somewhere.

    12. Never Give Up: Jim Valvano's Battle With Cancer

    We know the speech, but many don't know the full story.

    13. Tough Subjects: Rae Carruth, Baylor Basketball Scandal, Latrell Sprewell Chokes PJ Carliesmo

    All of these would be tough to do, but could be done tastefully like the June 17, 1994 film by Bret Morgen.

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