From a critical standpoint, that seems very possible. This documentary's from acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Charles Officer, and it's got incredible subject matter to work with, the unbelievable story of Chuck Ealey. Ealey was a legendary college quarterback for the Toledo Rockets, leading them to a 35-0 run over his last three seasons and finishing eighth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1971, but he never received a chance to play quarterback in the NFL, primarily because of his race. Instead, he came to Canada in 1972, took over as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' starter partway into the year and led them to a first-place finish and a Grey Cup, becoming the first African-American QB to win the Grey Cup in the process and paving the way for future legends like Warren Moon. As Officer pointed out in an interview with TSN's Shane McNeil, Ealey's story is remarkable, and it's one that has implications and parallels well beyond the sports world:
When NFL teams expressed reluctance to draft him as a quarterback, Ealey set his sights on becoming a star in the Canadian game.
The journey north - one that, as Officer points out, has tangible connections to the Underground Railroad that led freed slaves to Canada during the Civil War - would land Ealey with a serious chance to shine.
"There are places around this country that people can come to and not be afraid and they'll be respected to a degree more so than they've experienced," Officer says of Ealey's move to Hamilton.
"They'll be given the opportunity and they'll be given the benefit of the doubt...It's pretty telling and it's not just in sports."
We'll see Friday night how well Officer does with that great subject material, but it's certainly promising. The ratings may not be quite as strong as the first documentary, though, and that's just a function of the Riders' audience. (Also, providing compelling content for people to watch during a post-turkey-dinner recovery is probably not a bad idea.) This doesn't need to pull in quite as many viewers to be a success, though. If a substantial amount of people stick around after the CFL game and some others tune in, this could still do very well for TSN, boosting the profile of the rest of the series in the process and encouraging TV networks to invest further in telling compelling CFL stories.
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