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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Small Potatoes Who Killed The USFL - Movie Review

I was just a young teenager when the United States Football League played from 1983-1985. The USFL was considered an underdog rival to the National Football league even though they did not play during the same time of year. The NFL played football in the fall and the USFL played in the spring.

I remember the USFL pretty well and rooted for their success like anyone who roots for an underdog (and loves football year round)

ESPN put out a short film that delves into what happened to the USFL and what caused the league to go out of businesses. The film is called "Small Potatoes Who Killed The USFL" This short documentary was part of ESPN's 30 for 30 television series.

"Small Potatoes Who Killed The USFL" was made in 2009 but looks like it was made in the 1980's. The sound track is dated (even for 2009) and the split screen effects seem so old-school cinema- tacky. It documentary is cheaply shot. Sounds horrible right? Somehow I loved it. The 80's camera work, special effects, music and subject matter made it feel like I was watching the USFL back in the 1985 again. 

Producer Michael Tollin does a nice job resurrecting at lot of the highly entertaining characters and heroes that were part of the USFL. Burt Reynolds, Donald Trump, Harry Usher, Jim Mora, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Hershel Walker, etc. The list goes on and has some interesting surprises and great personalities. I loved the good guy, bad guy relationship the film presents between John F Bassett (former owner of Tampa Bay Bandits) and Donald Trump (The Don).

I think viewers will be surprised at how close the USFL came to becoming a legitimate league. According to Michael Tollin, this wasn't some fly by night venture. A few changes here and there and we might still be watching spring football.

I won't spend too much time talking about this very short but sweet 51 minute film. I will warn you that it is completely biased. Michael Tollins view on the defunct league might be correct but he is clearly the bitter, laid off, USFL employee who lost his 'dream job' over internal bickering and greed. Keep this in mind as you watch it.

If you loved sports in the 1980's or are interested in a league that tried to rival the NFL, check out this film. It is a short movie, won't take up much time, and you might actually enjoy it.


51 Minutes

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