ESPN will debut the next installment in the Peabody and Emmy award-winning 30 for 30 series, THE GREAT HEISMAN RACE OF 1997 on Saturday, Dec. 9. Directed by Gentry Kirby (This Magic Moment, Tommy), the film takes an immersive, time-capsule style approach to telling the story of the Heisman Trophy race of 1997, going back a quarter century to chronicle a season that fans will never forget, with future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson headlining a cast of legendary players – and living at the center of a debate that still lives on all these years later.
Peyton Manning stunned the sports world in 1997 by deciding to return for his senior season at Tennessee and spurning the NFL, making him the Heisman front-runner as he set his sights on an SEC Championship. But while Manning would be the preseason favorite for the hallowed honor, other candidates would find their way into the conversation when the games began. There was Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf, making a bid for an even more impressive season than Manning. In West Virginia, after troubled stints at Notre Dame and Florida State, Randy Moss had emerged as a seemingly unstoppable wide receiver at Marshall. And then there was Charles Woodson, the Michigan cornerback who was so talented that the Wolverines made him a two-way player, designing plays for him at wide receiver. All the debate and controversy would culminate on the first Saturday in December at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.
THE GREAT HEISMAN RACE OF 1997 is told through archive materials from that season, taking viewers in a veritable college football time machine through this seminal season in the sport’s history, telling an unforgettable story for all time. The documentary will be made available on ESPN+ immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.
Advance press screeners, additional information, including film clips, director statements, and interviews are available upon request.
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX, SEC Storied and Emmy award-winning docu-series “The Last Dance.” ESPN+ is the exclusive home for the entire 30 for 30 library.