NFL Network’s film on Jerry Smith

We’ll have a longer post on this at some point, but in case you haven’t heard, here’s an alert: NFL Network’s latest “A Football Life” debuts Tuesday night at 9, and it has a major Redskins focus.

The topic is two-time Pro Bowl tight end Jerry Smith, who at the time of his retirement had caught more touchdowns than any tight end in NFL history. To casual fans, he is perhaps better known for personal reasons: Smith, who was gay, later died from AIDS. Among the D.C. figures featured in the movie are Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor, Chris Hanburger, Brig Owens, Dave Kopay, Larry Brown, Billy Kilmer, Calvin Hill, Jean Fugett, Bruce Allen, Mark Murphy, George Solomon, Leonard Shapiro and David Maraniss. That’s a pretty heady list for Redskins fans who still remember the ’70s.

The filmmakers also interviewed Bonnie Gilchrist, a pretty well-known Montgomery County high school volleyball coach and Smith’s sister, which I never actually knew, despite interviewing her many times.

Smith’s teammates, needless to say, rave about the man in the film.

“When you needed a play to be made, you knew you could throw the ball to him and you knew some way, somehow he was going to catch the thing,” Jurgensen says in the film, according to a press release.

“This guy was a tremendous football player. Tough as nails, great hands – just so dependable,” Mitchell says.

Outsports’s Cyd Zeigler, who has seen the movie, wrote an extremely favorable review:

NFL Network’s ‘A Football Life’ episode about former Washington Redskins tight end Jerry Smith fully embraces the man’s sexual orientation as it weaves the story of one of the greatest tight ends to have ever played the game.

The hourlong piece is entirely about two things: Smith’s excellence on the field and his sexual orientation. Various former teammates of Smith are interviewed, including Brig Owens (his roommate), quarterback Billy Kilmer and running back Larry Brown. All of the men talk about Smith being gay, how they found out, when they suspected and when they knew. For many of the men, it was the first time they had ever interacted with a gay man.

“One of the things I learned is that a person’s sexual preference has nothing to do with their heart,” former running back Calvin Hill says during the piece.

Owens, Hill and Smith’s friend David Mixner will join Jenn Brown for a 30-minute back-story program after the film, also on NFL Network.

QUOTE OF THE DAY, I

Randy Wittman, on the Wizards’ never-ending quest to get above .500:

“It’s not a magical thing. I don’t think all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500 and we’re not going to lose another game. We just got to continue to play the right way. That’s all I want to do.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY, II

Marcin Gortat, on the Wizards’ bench frittering away most of a 21-point fourth quarter lead:

“I don’t think they were ready. It’s just too bad for them because they had an opportunity to get some playing time, and they just wasted it. I know how I was playing my first four years behind Dwight [Howard]. I was just praying for a few seconds on the court, and every time when I got on the court, I would just die before Coach would sub me out.”

GIVEAWAY OF THE DAY

Georgetown lost, but student fans got tattoo sleeves.

 

U-VA. FANS TAUNT UNC


MEANING IN THE UNIVERSE

This is a good way to go out. From a WaPo obituary:

 

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY

The Caps host the Senators at 7 on Comcast SportsNet. All radio and TV listings are here.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · January 20

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