The CFL's history of providing opportunities for black players who were discriminated against in American football is one of the most interesting elements of the league, and it's the focus of a new documentary set to air on TSN this fall—if enough people back it. Filmmaker William Armstrong spoke to 55-Yard Line last week about the project, titled Gridiron Underground. Armstrong, president of Strongwall Productions, said there's a compelling story here, and one that goes beyond just sports.
"It's an hour-long documentary about the waves of African-Americans who came to Canada to play in the CFL," he said. "Canadians really opened their arms to them, and the legacy of African-Americans in the CFL is huge. ...Football and sport in general is its mode of transport, but the story is a more general one of perseverance and hope."
You can see an impressive trailer Armstrong's put together for the project here, complete with snippets of interviews with Warren Moon, Henry Burris and Bernie Custis:
Perseverance and hope describes the project to date, too. Armstrong has been working on this for several years, and that involved plenty of cross-continent trips to track down former players and interview them, but he accomplished that without major funding.
"Out of my own pocket and money I've raised, we've been travelling all around North America for the past few years," Armstrong said. "We've been working on it for three or four years now."Read More »from Interview: Filmmaker William Armstrong turns to crowdfunding to finish Gridiron Underground, a documentary on black players in the CFL