In 1969, the Wyoming football team dismissed 14 black players for wanting to wear armbands protesting what they perceived to be several racial injustices by a conference foe. For Black History Month, Sunday’s “SC Featured” on SportsCenter will tell the story of “The Black 14.”
“The most important thing in presenting this story is to try and paint a factual representation of what really happened, through the words of those who were there,” said Scott Harves, producer of the piece for ESPN Features. “What we found out was that back in 1969, the facts of the story were misconstrued at times. The majority of Wyoming only knew one side of the story, and a lot of these guys didn’t talk about it for a long time afterward. Some of the story behind the story and what really happened wasn’t known.”
Harves visited Laramie, Wyo., and received help in tracking down some of the former players, 11 of whom are still alive. He interviewed seven and – by serendipity – was able to talk with six in one location when they were honored in Orlando, Fla., last fall.
“It was really fascinating to me,” he said. “When I stumbled on the story in an article on protests in sports last fall, even though I worked in college football for years, I’d never heard the story. I sent the story to many college football colleagues at ESPN, and they’d never heard the story either. So many people I’ve talked to about it in the last few months were hearing the story for the first time. That’s what drew me into telling this story.”
“The Black 14,” narrated by ESPN’s Jemele Hill, will debut in the 8 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter and re-air in other editions throughout the day. The multi-platform presentation also will include an interview with Tony McGee, a member of the group who went on to have a long NFL career, Sunday on TheUndefeated.com.