Houston Sports Stories That Need Their Own ESPN #30For30 Episodes
Photo By Brittanie Shey
Red-Blooded American Man's newest obsession -- behind Kate Upton -- has to be ESPN's 30 For 30 series. The sports documentary series takes on notable and not-so-notable events in sports history and gives them the 360-degree treatment.
Since 30 For 30 debuted in late 2009, the directors have tackled the USFL, the death of would-be superstar Len Bias, Fernando Valenzuela, fantasy sports, and transsexual tennis star Renée Richards.
This week's episode, "Broke", centered on retired, hapless, cash-strapped pro athletes who have pissed away their earnings on bowling alleys, yachts, and hangers-on. In a few months they tackle the rise and fall of two-sporter Bo Jackson.
The closest that the series has gotten to Houston was probably the "June 17, 1994" episode that centered on that hellish day in sports, with O.J. Simpson laying down in the back of a Ford Bronco in Los Angeles, the Rockets playing the Knicks in the NBA Finals, and golfer Arnold Palmer hanging up his pro clubs.
Then there was the USFL episode which touched on our own Houston Gamblers, our other professional football team in the '80s that featured Jim Kelly, the "Run & Shoot" and future Oilers head coach Jack Pardee.
Of course as a Houston homer, I would love to see some of our stranger, golden local sports tales told through the 30 For 30 lens. The Bayou City has had its share of heartbreak, oddity, and triumph.
Did I mention heartbreak?
Where are you now?
The genesis of the Astrodome is surely worth a look, especially with the backdrop of the dilapidated old girl as a focal point. What about the sad tale of J.R. Richard, the strange death of pitcher Don Wilson in 1975, or the early sweaty, bug-bitten days of the Houston Buffs? Jim Umbricht's name has been lost to history too.
The Houston Oilers' mark on Houston could be explored, from the Luv Ya Blue and Bum Phillips era -- you could do a special on all the Oilers fight music recorded alone -- to the suicide of Jeff Alm, and that fateful Buffalo Bills game in January 1993. The 20th anniversary of "The Comeback" is coming upon sooner than you know.
What is Bud Adams made of, literally? Just devote a whole episode on that sack of shit. How much of him is actually congealed chicken fat, pig assholes, and duck vaginas?
What about a Zapruder-like look at Buddy Ryan punching Kevin Gilbride?
What happened to those couples that got married at the Gamblers games?
Basketball in Houston hasn't been without its drama, from UH's Phi Slama Jama, the Rockets dual championships, and the story of Yao Ming coming to the United States and making basketball a Chinese interest. I could see a Yao doc doing good, same for one on Hakeem.
There was Gordie Howe playing for the old WHA Houston Aeros with his kids in the `70s, during hockey's first thrusts into Houston.
Does anyone remember the Houston Hotshots? They surely helped break soccer in Houston in the '90s and paved the way for the Dynamo.
And the Texas Terror and the Houston Thunderbears -- though just arena football teams -- kept our gridiron hearts from breaking for good while we waited for the Houston Texans to begin play.
Speaking of the Texans, why not at 30 For 30 entitled "What The Fuck Was Your Problem, David Carr?" That would be a laugh riot. At the end of the episode, there could be a massive bonfire of his jerseys in the parking lot of the Academy near Kirby.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.