Dexter Rogers serves as the Director/Producer/Narrator for the proposed documentary. Rogers is a freelance journalist and award winning independent filmmaker. His written work has been referenced or published in the likes of the USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post, ESSENCE Magazine, and Bleacher Report.
Rogers also has done consistent sports radio commentary on satellite radio and periodic some television commentary for CNN. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary the Curious Case of Curt Flood which aired on HBO in 2011.
Bob Costas is one of the top sports journalist/sportscasters in the sports industry. Costas has been with NBC for nearly 40 years. His work has been in impeccable over the last four decades. He just recently covered his ninth Olympic Games in London this past summer. Costas interviewed Gilliam in 1996. I reached out to Costas and he agreed to be interviewed for my work. I’m pleased to have such an esteemed professional commit to my project. It demonstrates my work has both merit and value.
Warren Moon is a NFL Hall of Fame quarterback. Moon overcame negative stereotypes in shaping his illustrious career that saw him pass for more than 70,000 yards. Moon was forced to play in the CFL for six seasons before the Houston Oilers called. Moon’s confidence and persistence allowed him to be the first African-American quarterback inducted into the Hall of Fame. Moon was an interview subject for my documentary.
Eugene Gussenhoven is a very accomplished individual who has the ability to wear several hats. For this documentary Gussenhoven will be the editor for this project. He also works for a local CBS affiliate as a camera man in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Gussenhoven is a multi-faceted individual who is sure to add a variety and experience to this timely project. He also serves as an editor, and cameraman for the Allen County Public Library Public Access Channel.
Ron Jaworski is an ESPN football analyst. Jaworski is a former NFL quarterback who played against Gilliam in his last game as a pro in 1975. Jaworski is known for breaking down film and grading quarterbacks on their skill level. As an interview subject Jaworski will break down film of Gilliam in demonstrating he had the goods to be a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Jewell Rollen was Gilliam’s best friend from his days at Tennessee State until his passing in 2000. Rollen has served as a valued consultant and interview subject for this project. Rollen’s contributions have been vital in shedding light on Gilliam as a person off the field and a pioneer on it.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most respected and storied franchises in all of sports. The Steelers also have some of the most loyal fans in the world as well. The Steelers legacy of dominance and winning Super Bowls started in 1974. Its true Terry Bradshaw was the quarterback who led the Steelers to the first of their four Super Bowls in 1974 but there was another quarterback who was better whose contributions to the Steelers dynasty have largely been ignored.
This documentary explores the untold story of Joe Gilliam. Gilliam was the 272nd pick of 1972 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Tennessee State University. In 1974 Gilliam was named the staring quarterback over Terry Bradshaw as a result of his stellar play in the preseason. When Gilliam wrestled the job from Bradshaw he became the first African-American quarterback to open a season as a starter.
Gilliam’s stellar play left head coach Chuck Noll no other choice but to name him the starter. Gilliam led the team to a 6-0 record when preseason games mattered unlike today.
After leading the Steelers to a 4-1-1 record in the regular season and a first place standing (while winning his last three starts in a row) the job Gilliam earned was suddenly handed to Bradshaw.
The combination of the social climate and race played a role in Gilliam’s eventual demise. Sadly Gilliam turned to drugs to cope with his surprising demotion. While Bradshaw struggled to lead the team Noll stayed the course with Bradshaw. Gilliam never got another chance to regain the job he wrestled from Bradshaw.
The dubious benching was the catalyst which ignited Gilliam’s tragic downfall later in life. Gilliam was cut from the Steelers after the 1975 season. He never played another down in the NFL. Gilliam vigorously struggled to find his way without football. After several failed attempts at getting back into the NFL in the 1980’s Gilliam found himself living homeless for several years in the late 1990’s before dying at age 49 in 2000.
Meanwhile Bradshaw went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a player. He led the Steelers to three more Super Bowls before retiring in 1983. Now Bradshaw is a well-known sportscaster with FOX who enjoys a great life. He freely admits Gilliam was a better quarterback than he was but more importantly he never beat him out for the job-it was handed back to him.
It’s very telling how both Gilliam and Bradshaw’s lives played out after the quarterback change was made in 1974. Gilliam gets addicted to drugs and dies early while Bradshaw goes on to a Hall of Fame career and continues to live a full life.
One is left to wonder what could have been had Gilliam been allowed to finish what he started in 1974.
Perks You’ll Receive & Funds Distribution
The documentary is 55% complete. I have begun the process of interviewing subjects, writing the script, and editing the project as needed. I have also assembled a team a very competant team to bring this project into reality.
Your contributions will assist in raising the goal of $40,000 that’s needed to complete the 90-minute project. The funds will be utilized to compensate camera people, lighting personnel, audio technicians, travel, food and lodging expenses for the team.
I have commitments from approximately 15 interview subjects whom all live in different geographic areas of the country. Interview subjects include Bob Costas, Terry Bradshaw, Warren Moon, Ron Jaworski, Marlin Briscoe, Andy Russell, Terry Hanratty, Craig Gilliam, Jewell Rollen, Dr. Richard Lapchick, Dr. Gary Sailes, and others.
Your contribution outlay will dictate what type of perks you will receive. Perks range from receiving postcard and a "special thanks" in the credits to being an executive producer and being invited to a private screening and dinner with an interview subject to be named later along with members of the staff. The more you contribute the more perks you’ll receive for participating. Without question you all have the opportunity to be a part of something special!
Furthermore, if you are not able to make a monetary contribution please help me get the word out. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. are valuable tools along with word of mouth. Anything you can do assist in creating a buzz for this project will be both welcomed and appreciated!
Any worthwhile goal in life takes a worthwhile plan. With committed people assisting along the way anything is possible. I have assembled a team of competent staff members, consultants and interview subjects for this project. In securing commitments from some of the giants in American sports demonstrates there is a distinct market for this documentary and it has merit.
I am very passionate about this documentary. I am extremely confident I’m the person to chronicle Gilliam’s story the way it should be told. With your help I am sure this project will not only be completed but will be one of the top documentaries of its kind.
I thank everyone from the depths of my heart for their time in supporting a piece of art that is truly educational and certainly worthy of mass dissemination.