Missouri’s first “SEC Storied” treatment, “Tigers United,” debuted Tuesday on the SEC Network.
It chronicled the friendship between roommates Michael Sam, L’Damian Washington and Marvin Foster against the backdrop of MU’s breakthrough 2013 season.
Tigers fans won’t be surprised by a lot of the documentary.
By now, Missouri fans are quite familiar with the tale of Sam revealing to his teammates before the season that he was gay and then going on to win co-SEC defensive player of the year and helping the Tigers win an SEC East division title.
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My quick reaction:
▪ It definitely makes Missouri look like a great place, a welcoming place. It’s a story that should resonate with recruits. Family is a big talking for coach Gary Pinkel, but I’ve never felt like it was mere lip service. People who did feel like it was phony may not be swayed by “Tiger United,” but — aside from a couple embellishments* related to certain moment of that season — it had a genuine feel.
It also serves as great PR for the community of Columbia as an accepting and inviting place. The response to Stand With Sam in the face of a Westboro Baptist Church protest already was telling in that respect.
* For instance, it might be a stretch to call Sam’s sack in the Cotton Bowl, “the biggest play of the season.” Bud Sasser’s touchdown pass to Washington at Georgia and Henry Josey’s touchdown run to clinch the Texas A&M game always stood out as bigger moments in my mind. But reasonable people can disagree and I don’t think those quibbles detract from the storytelling.
▪ It was interesting to see the dance party around “Big Marv” and hear about his impact as an emotional leader in the locker room. He wasn’t never more than a role player for Missouri due to injury, but he obviously was beloved.
▪ Sam’s admission that he didn’t want to get hurt in the Cotton Bowl also was interesting. He certainly hadn’t played well until that sack and forced fumble in the closing minute to ice a 41-31 victory.
▪ Sam’s retelling of a conversation with Auburn’s Tre Mason — the two were briefly teammates after both were drafted by the Rams in 2014 — is bound to open old wounds for Missouri fans.
“If you guys would have stayed at home on the defensive line, I wouldn’t have had anywhere to run,” Sam recalled Mason telling him.
▪ Perhaps my favorite moment from the documentary, other than David Morrison’s star turn, the part about Sam crying on the sideline when Washington scored on a 96-yard catch and run against South Carolina.
I don’t know why, but that moment illustrated the story as well as anything in my mind.