Tagged with "marcus"
The Best that Never Was, Marcus Dupree Tags: the best never was marcus dupree 30 of 30 football legend word life production

In 1981, college athletic recruiting changed forever as a dozen big-time football programs sat waiting for the decision by a physically powerful and lightning-quick high school running back named Marcus Dupree.

On his way to eclipsing Herschel Walker's record for the most touchdowns in high school history, Dupree attracted recruiters from schools in every major conference to his hometown of Philadelphia, Miss.More than a decade removed from being a flashpoint in the civil-rights struggle, Philadelphia was once again thrust back into the national spotlight.

Dupree took the attention in stride, and committed to Oklahoma. What followed, though, was a forgettable college career littered with conflict, injury and oversized expectations. Eight-time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Hock examined why this star burned out so young and how he ultimately used football to redeem himself.

Director's Take

When ESPN invited me to be one of the select directors for its ambitious 30-for-30 project, I accepted without hesitation. This is a story I've been wanting to put on film for years, a story that embodies both what's right and what's wrong about sports in America, and since it plays out over the course of the last thirty years, I thought it would be perfect for this project. It's the story of Marcus Dupree, who was one of the most famously recruited high school football players of his generation. Today, Marcus is a 46-year-old part-time truck driver, struggling to get by, remembered by those who watched him as "the best that never was." The lure of fast money; the brutality of his sport; and above all, a young man's lack of understanding of what the big-time college football world demanded of him and how fast it could turn on him; all these led to Marcus's downfall as an athlete.

Philadelphia, Miss., was the site of one of the most notorious acts of terrorism during the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s: the murders of three young men helping to register black voters who had come to Philadelphia in 1964 to investigate the burning of a church that supported civil-rights activities. Marcus was born a month before the killings, and eventually would join the first class to go through integrated public schools in the state. When Marcus was establishing himself as the best high school running back in the nation, Philadelphians -- white and black -- took pride in him, and in the fully integrated team that he led. He was the town's first shared joy.

It would be naive to believe that Marcus singlehandedly gave rise to a "New South." But it would be cynical to disbelieve that he did help change the lives of the people of a small town with a horrible past. It is here that the best of sport still resides -- in its ability to tear down the isolation and separateness that permeate everyday life in America and to give people something bigger than themselves to share, a way to transcend the distinctions that otherwise keep them apart. For this experience, Marcus feels blessed beyond any measure of wealth or fame that might have come his way had things played out differently. "The Best That Never Was" is a story infused with sadness and loss. But its hero is a man who is at peace with it all.

Source: ESPN

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