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Integration, NFL title game spotlighted in must-see films on TV

by Mel Bracht Modified: December 12, 2008 at 6:28 am •  Published: December 12, 2008
’Tis the season for sports documentaries, and two upcoming programs are worth a look.

"Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football,” which debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on HBO, chronicles the end of segregation in college football.

"The Greatest Game Ever Played,” 8 p.m. Saturday on ESPN, looks back at the 1958 NFL championship — the Baltimore Colts’ 23-17 victory over the New York Giants in overtime at Yankee Stadium.

The HBO documentary looks at integration in three conferences in the South — the ACC, SEC and Southwest — so there is no mention of running back Prentice Gautt becoming the first black athlete to play for OU in 1956.

However, several Texas players are featured, including SMU running back Jerry LeVias, who helped break the color barrier in the Southwest Conference, and NFL great Bubba Smith, a Beaumont, Texas, native, who migrated to Michigan State after no school recruited him in Texas.

The film culminates with the 1970 game between USC, which had been integrated for years, and Alabama, the last successful all-white college football program. Led by fullback Sam "Bam” Cunningham, USC defeated Alabama 42-21 in Birmingham, Ala. The rout helped open the eyes of Alabama fans to the idea of recruiting black players.

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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