None More American: Army Football in Post-9/11 America
None More American: Army Football in Post-9/11 America
At a time of war, 12 young men choose to attend West Point, play football, and serve their country in combat following graduation.
At a time of war, 12 young men choose to attend West Point, play football, and serve their country in combat following graduation. Read more
Army Football. Brotherhood. Uncommon commitment. Unparalleled honor.
“None More American” profiles twelve former players that embody the true spirit of Army Football: Selfless Commitment. Brotherhood. Fierce Determination. Relentless Effort. Young men who chose the more difficult path of service to country, sacrificing the typical college experience to prepare to lead others into combat, and who served honorably and with distinction when called upon.
A story told through their own words, those of friends, family, teammates, coaches, and those who served with them in combat...and shown through their own actions on and off the field.
What makes Army Football So Special? Why Are you doing this?
The answers are in the people themselves. I attended my first Army Football game 33 years ago. I am a third-generation Army Football fan. My grandfather attended Army Football games for over 50 years. He was my hero, and his love for the Black Knights was not lost on me.
It was Army vs. California, and Army won. The experience was amazing, and the football was awesome. But there was something different about the atmosphere. To the left of the stadium, I could see the walls of Fort Putnam. Walking down to the Plain after the game, the cannons perched over the hudson. The steel chain. Behind me, barracks that housed over 4,000 young men and women who, at the age of 18 or so, made a commitment for the next 9-10 years of their lives. These kids walked a bit differently – straighter, with more confidence. There was a mystique about the place, the walls, the Chapel up on the hill. The beauty of it all.
As I grew up, I began to better understand just how unique Army Football was in the college landscape. The guys who decided to play here had no shot at the NFL, a big difference from the teams they played each week. I watched them beat Tennessee, Boston College, Illinois, Michigan State. I saw them take Alabama to the brink. I watched them take a top 25 ranking and 10 wins in 1996.
I witnessed first hand how a team could be bigger than the sum of its parts. That although none of these guys may have been able to make the Tennessee roster, all of them could band together to beat the Volunteers on their home turf. I saw young men become larger than life, putting in performances that would be remembered for years, and maybe generations.
I learned quickly of the birth of Army Football and the “Glory Years”, the heroics of Don Holleder, and all of the great players and warriors of years past. For me, it was all about the Black and Gold and the Long Gray Line.
There is no more honorable path.
When 9/11 hit, it brought everything home. The reality of it not just being a game was evident in Army’s first game after the attacks. The players stood on the sideline, saluting the flag while the National Anthem played. As guys like Chad Jenkins led Army to a win over Navy on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia, it hit hard that they would be serving on the ground in harm's way in just a few short months. These guys were something special, and everyone in the sellout crowd got it.
At West Point, you make that active service commitment on the first day of your junior year. Up until that point, you are free to leave the Academy. For the guys that took that step after 9/11 – staying at West Point or coming to the academy – did so at a time of War. They decided on West Point – the Army – the guys on the ground taking the fight to the enemy.
For the guys who decided to come play football at Army, they did so when the program was struggling and with the same five-year active service commitment. They chose West Point over Navy and Air Force. Again, they chose to be the ones in the fight.
So I want to tell that story. I want people to see more than the celebration of the team annually during the Army-Navy game. More than the early mornings and relentless schedule at West Point. I want to show what brotherhood means – on the football field, at the Academy, and in combat. I want to show how a hard hitting linebacker was in the fight of his life against the Taliban. How an offensive lineman was in weekly firefights on his first deployment, and lost a leg to an IED as a Special Forces team leader on his third deployment. And how a selfless teammate gave the ultimate sacrifice as a selfless Army officer.
We found 12 guys to profile, but the reality is that there are hundreds to choose from. The famous declaration from General Marshall in World War II rings as true today as it did then. “I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission; I want a West Point Football Player.
What makes Army Football so special? The brotherhood; the guys that play the game. That’s why we are doing this.
What is the funding being used for?
Our crew will have to travel over 32,000 miles to over 20 destinations with over 40 days of production and filming to make this film. The funding covers crew, travel, licensing, legal and insurance, equipment, and post production.
Risks and challenges
Over the past three years, we have worked very closely with West Point and Army Football on a series of documentaries profiling the destination of a West Point cadet; the life of a young officer on active duty. Our work on these projects has developed a very close working relationship with the Academy and Athletic Program, and our work around the world has provided a close-knit relationship with active duty units. This experience uniquely positions us in the production of this film.
With a production of this magnitude, we run the risk of encountering a number of obstacles. Our team is uniquely positioned to successfully work through these.
Locations: We have a crew of 5 that will need to travel and film at over 20 global locations to make this happen. Coordinating travel, access, and subject availability will be an ongoing challenge. However, our experience working with the military and managing documentary scheduling will go a long way in helping with this. We have extensive military support for this project and a number of resources in our corner to assist with facilitating access.
Army Support: In order to work with the active duty personnel involved in this film, extensive planning and coordination with Army PAO and specific unit PAO is critical. We have a dedicated resource for this, and our experience filming with some of the top units in the Army will assist in working through any access issues.
Archive Footage - A strong challenge will be acquiring archive footage of each of these individuals. While we have a good deal of support with personal archives, we have dedicated a significant budget number to the acquisition of archive footage.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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