Elway and his father hours after being picked by the Colts, a move that led to them announcing he would play baseball instead. ESPN's latest installment of 30 for 30 airs tonight at 8 PM ET.
If you had to pick three companies that are thriving at producing high quality sports documentary content, you'd give the nod to HBO, NFL Films, and ESPN with their popular 30 for 30 series. Tonight's 30 for 30 installment in Elway To Marino has the distinction of being the only 30 for 30 film to be produced by NFL Films, thus giving the film about the 1983 NFL draft a second helping of high production value special sauce.
Even with the knowledge that two sports documentary powers had collaborated to make the documentary, I had a bit of skepticism that the focus of this film would be compelling enough to a general sports audience to warrant its inclusion in the middle to upper tiers among the 30 for 30 and ESPN Films.
Even though I was less than a year old at the time of the 83 draft, it occurred to me that non NFL fans might not find the topic interesting and that hardcore NFL fans would find the subject matter to be too redundant.
All that said, Elway To Marino brings the 1983 draft to life in a way that is stirring, intriguing, and at times quite shocking and I'm confident most viewers will place the film somewhere in the middle of their own 30 for 30 rankings.
Crucial to the film is the participation of Marvin Demoff who was not only Elway's agent but also Marino's. Thanks to a meticulous journal Demoff kept in the months leading up to and after the '83 draft, viewers are treated to a windy and bumpy road for both future Hall of Famers to find their way to their eventual teams. The fact that both players retired with those same teams has only intensified the draft day narratives that played out for both.
Demoff as well as other league owners, coaches, and front office personnel essentially walk you through the '83 first round pick by pick. While this doesn't sound overly compelling, their is an incredible amount of almost unbelievable stories and revelations that either connect directly with the Elway and Marino selections or are close tangents.
Demoff's mandate was to pry Elway out of the Colts' hands who would be relocating in less than a year and were known to have an erratic owner and a disciplinarian head coach. Demoff's other big concern was stopping a draft day slide for Marino that tied back to some murky rumors about his recreational life at Pitt.
Both quarterbacks were dangled for the entire NFL on that day that saw a large amount of close calls on deals for both, many of which are somewhat shocking.
Elway To Marino is probably closest to the Wayne Gretzky 30 for 30, Kings Ransom, as it pulls back the curtain on the the high stakes world of NFL front offices and meddling agents. It also touches on some interesting storylines like the USFL's existence, Al Davis' feud with the NFL, and some relevant connections with Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Danny White, Howie Long, George Steinbrenner, and Dan Fouts.
For fans old enough to remember the '83 draft, I'm sure it will be an enjoyable refresher on one of the most talented and dramatic first rounds in NFL history. For those unfamiliar or light on details of the event, there is certainly enough meat on the bone to suck you in for the full 90 minutes.
While missing a protagonist and lacking the element of being a lesser known story , Elway To Marino is so jam packed with insider nuggets of gold, football fans as well as fans who like to know just how the sausage is made will thoroughly enjoy this 30 for 30 installment which serves as a great NFL Draft appetizer.