During the game, with Secret Service snipers strategically in place to protect Nixon, anti-war demonstrators, led by a returned Vietnam veteran, staked out their own strategic position on a hill overlooking the stadium but in full view of the President's 35 yard line seat. How ironic -- or perhaps tragically appropriate -- that one player on the field had already lost a brother in Vietnam.
It was a game for the ages played before a frenetic hog-calling crowd that not only included Nixon and his considerable entourage but also Colonel Holmes, director of ROTC for the University of Arkansas and a former World War II Pacific Theater POW. Only months before, at the encouragement of Senator Fulbright, Colonel Holmes had assisted another future president named Clinton to delay his draft notice -- a decision the Colonel would later come to regret. But on this day, despite a philosophical bridge too wide to cross, the old soldier and future president would join in rooting for the Hogs, especially Holmes whose future son-in-law would shortly score the game's first touchdown before Nixon even took his seat in the stands.
And finally, the game included a courageous performance by a Texas defensive back - in its own way as courageous as Colonel Holmes surviving the torture of the Bataan Death March while 18,000 of his fellow American soldiers did not. It was the most courageous performance ever on a football field. To repeat... ever. This remarkable documentary provides a glimpse into one of the most fascinating and tumultuous periods in America's history through the lens of a remarkable sporting event. Interviews with TV sports icon Beano Cook, players, politicians, then White House officials, professors, protesters and the coaches bring the game (and its impact on those who played in and attended the game) to life. Legendary Texas Coach Darrell Royal and Texas quarterback James Street share their final filmed interviews in this documentary (both have passed since the film was completed), and fellow legend Frank Broyles of Arkansas discusses the "Shoot Out" publicly for the first time since the game.
This film reminds richly reminds us that life, like football, is intended to be "played" with all the strength, passion and imagination we can each bring to the field: "THE BIG SHOOTOUT."