In 1964, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts led by Johnny Unitas 27-0 for the NFL Championship. This is the last major championship in the city of Cleveland and for far too many fans, this is a factoid rather than a part of the fabric of this city and region. Four men have come together with the goal of bringing this great game back to life for the city of Cleveland and for fans of the Browns in a documentary that is being put together, titled The Greatest Day in Cleveland Sports, which they hope to have out in May of 2014 and in film festivals in 2015.
Founder Danny Tharp, known as “Uncle Danny” to those familiar with him, has become one of the biggest collectors of memorabilia, amassing a collection of 22,000 items to this point. One of the items in this collection was the reel to reel play by play of the 1964 championship. Uncle Danny was able to meet Robbie Flair, who handles personal relations and event marking, and Sorin Bica, who is in charge of digital marketing, were able to digitize those reels and put them on a 2 CD set. Momentum picked up and this project has evolved to the point where they were able to add Brian Marks as their Director of Photography with the ambition of seeing this made into a film for people to see and have as a lasting memory for the ’64 championship.
With substantial help and legwork from from the Cleveland Browns organization including most notably Tony Dick, the Browns Manager of Alumni Relations, they have been able to get a significant number of commitments from former players from the ’64 championship team including Frank Ryan, Gary Collins, Jim Kanicki, Vince Costello and Jim Houston. With the age of these players and the fact that team is 50 years older, this might be the last opportunity to get their perspective on the record and to be able to get their first hand accounts of the game, the feel, and the stories from that season and that game. In an effort to get the perspective from different generations, they are also going to talk to former players like Kevin Mack, who is also a big part of the alumni association, Bernie Kosar, and players and from today.
Not only is there so much in terms of the game and what that meant in its own right, but there are so many stories attached to the game that happened in or around the game about the players and fans. Here is a taste of a few of those stories:
- Jim Brown threw his spikes from the game in the trash can, which are now sitting in the Browns facility in Berea.
- The location of the game ball is still a mystery at this point.
- It was legendary’s Cleveland reporter Dan Coughlin’s ﬁrst game ever covered. He was commissioned that week, when the main guy couldn’t make it. The night before the game he attended the Browns and Colts dinner parties, where. He was also one of the 5 reporters present at the post game conference.
- Pro bowler Jim Houston speaks about Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas.
- Two groups of fans that couldn’t get tickets, but wanted to see the game so bad, that they drove east and west to get out of the TV blackout zone. One group made it in Toledo, one in Pennsylvania, stopping along each city to check if the game was on.
- A 12 year old kid, whom along with a friend, put ten bucks in an envelope and shipped to the Browns stadium as a joke. They didn’t think anything would come of it. But a week before the game, an envelope with two tickets.
- Brian Marks is a part of Red Bicycle Media and has worked with the Browns as well as Ohio State Football with media as well as photography. Marks, along with his boss, James Pizarro, was also credited as part of A Game of Honor, a series about the rivalry between Army and Navy football. The film focused on the idea of these two teams fighting against each other for four years before then becoming part of the same team. It received three sports Emmys. There is a small montage of the work he has done as a filmmaker on their Kickstarter page which is well done.
This has become a project by Cleveland for Cleveland and built on a grass roots campaign along with Kickstarter to get this film made. The goal for this film to get made is $20,000 (they have $4,190 to this point) and much of that money is for licensing the footage but also so they can travel to go and interview the players from the ’64 team that cannot come to Cleveland. This is a non-commercial project and they are donating a portion of the revenue generated by this film to Cleveland Police Athletic League and Cleveland Touchdown Club on behalf of the Browns Alumni Organization.
Anyone who contributes at least $5 gets their name at least on the website. “I would be proud to show a list of 1,000 names of Clevelanders that made this thing happen.” – Robbie Flair
The key to Kickstarter is that it is all or nothing. No money is charged to people who pledge unless they reach their goal. For people who want to pledge but do not want to lose anything, there is no risk in pledging. If they make it, the people pledging are happy it is getting made. If not, no one is charged anything and the project simply falls short and they keep working to make this project happen by other means. Even if people cannot pledge money themselves, they can really help this project by just helping to get the message out to other people. The more people that see it, the more likely the goal is reached.
“Kickstarter is a platform for people like us to make our passion and our love for our project happen. Everybody wins with Kickstarter.” – Brian Marks
“I actually like the all or nothing mentality. It is safe for our project. We know that is the budget we set on to make something good. We don’t want to settle on something less. We are either going to reach our goal and make something or we won’t and we won’t put something bad out there.” – Sorin Bica
They have been able to get support from the Browns Backers as well. Specifically, the Windy City Browns Backers have pledged to do two fundraisers specifically for the benefit of getting this movie made.
Dawg Pound Daily is extremely proud to be able to help get the word out on this in the hope it can get made. The plan is to stay in touch with those involved and keep people informed about what is going on with the film and where it will go from here. Our fans are the types of people who get excited about this type of project and will root for it to get made and can at least help get the word out to other people who might also like to see this type of project succeed.