ESPN will debut the documentary, “Al Davis vs. The NFL,” the next installment in the Peabody and Emmy award-winning 30 for 30 series on February 4. Directed by Ken Rodgers (“The Two Bills,” “Elway to Marino”), the documentary presents an intimate look inside one of the great rivalries in the history of the National Football League – former Raiders owner Al Davis and former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, whose battle grew so intense that players, owners, franchises – even the League itself – became characters in a three-decade long Shakespearean feud that changed football forever.
The film traces the relationship from their early clashes in the AFL/NFL wars of the 1960s through their tacit reconciliation upon Rozelle’s retirement in 1989, with a special emphasis on the antitrust lawsuit Al Davis filed against the NFL in 1980. Davis wanted to relocate his legendary team from Oakland to Los Angeles, in pursuit of a state-of-the-art stadium, but the league would not approve. Today, with the Raiders recently completing their inaugural season in Las Vegas in a brand-new stadium, something Davis always dreamed of building himself, the film presents the adversarial relationship between the two visionaries. “Al Davis vs. The NFL” will premiere on February 4 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The film will be made available on ESPN+ immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library. Trailer: https://bit.ly/35BxZr0
Said Ken Rodgers: “No rivalry, on or off the field, helped shape the modern NFL as much as the decades-long struggle between Al Davis and Pete Rozelle. With the 2020 Raiders and the NFL collaborating to fulfill Al’s dream of a state-of-the-art stadium for his team, now is the perfect time to look back on two men who differed on many issues, but shared a mutual love of the NFL.”
The film features never-before-seen footage of both men, and takes a fresh, alternative approach: allowing Pete and Al’s spirits to tell their own story by using new, innovative technology, commonly known as “deepfake,” and having them narrate their shared tale in first-person. While the re-creations may not be the real thing, the specific stories each character tells are true, and their dialogue is based on a treasure trove of interviews from the NFL Films vault.