Letter from President George Bush
“The Big Shootout: The Life & Times of 1969 is on par with any of the very popular ESPN ‘30 For 30’ films. The stories were riveting, raw and real. Perhaps the most striking aspect for me was the presence of legendary UT quarterback James Street and Longhorns head coach, Darrell Royal. Knowing that this film was probably their final re-counting of the events surrounding that game brings an instant air of importance to each and every word spoken. The music was excellent and carried the film throughout. That being said, there were several key points when the music was dropped and it truly brought you out of your seat. The perfect example was when it was revealed that the pass interference penalty committed by Longhorns defensive back, Freddie Steinmark, was the final play in his life and ultimately saved the day for Texas. The slow motion replay with no sound elicited deep emotions. It connected me with a person I’ve never met in only the way cinema can.
This documentary is layered with sub-plots and ties the ‘Game of the Century’ to events in our nation which forever changed the course of our history. As someone whose family has no roots in the South and was born decades after this game was played, I finished watching and felt like it was a part of my personal history. This is a documentary that is meant to be watched over and over again. Sports fan or not, it is truly ‘must see TV.’”
Sports Television Producer of Channel 21’s The Fan in Dallas-Fort Worth
“I want to congratulate you on a terrific film. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and left thoroughly informed, inspired and entertained.”
Richard Nixon Library
“Great job. Brought back memories and brought forth tears. Wonderful story of a time that has passed, told in part with interviews of giants who are no longer with us. Well done!”
“Mike – watched your film last night – blown away… really well done! Telling the story through the interviews was very cool. The music set the tone. I learned a lot of new information about the game and the aftermath?the old home movies were incredible – the Nixon stuff, just everything – and I know it was a labor of love.”
Founder, Kevin Sullivan Communications, Inc. and former White House communications director
“You don’t have to know anything about the game of football to really appreciate Mike Looney’s ‘The Big Shootout.’ You just have to love our Country and appreciate being an American. If you happen to love playing any team-sport, like me, it’s icing on the cake!”
Director-Producer of the 1968 Elvis Comeback Special
Emmy winner-Golden Globes nominee-Caucus of Producers,Directors,Writers 2011 winner
“The film is fantastic! We’ve covered it several times already, too. Our readers have responded well to that coverage.”
Editor, Sporting Life Magazine
“The Big Shootout sums up why four living presidents had an interest in this game for four different reasons. This film has everything anybody could want. So prop your boots up, kick back and enjoy. It is gold.”
“The Big Shootout does more than bring to life a great story of an unforgettable game. It reminds us there are losers as well as winners, and lessons for both, some that take a lifetime to sort out.”
Dallas Morning News
“When coach Royal came to Austin he brought several coaches with him who were on the staff at Mississippi. All of them chewed one type or another. Legend has it that they used to spit on the players shoes in practice. I think that is not true because I never saw it. However, we knew that when daddy had a point to make in practice he would spit first. When he did that we all stopped what we were doing because that was a signal for us to pay attention. Of course, this went on all practice.
In regards to how he reacted he always was under control and never showed any excitement except when he told the defense to get ready after he heard Coach Royal tell James to run that pass play. And even then he was calm. By luck both the Arkansas game and Notre Dame game when Tom intercepted passes directly in front of where Daddy was standing. The films clearly show that he simply turned away and removed his ear sets as he was not going to need them again. I can damn sure assure you that he did not jump up in excitement or hug Tom even though it was his own son who made the play. He had two opportunities to do it and he stayed true to his character. I guess after flying 25 missions over Europe in a B-24 nothing could faze him.”
Defense Starter for the ’69 Longhorns along with his brother, Tom
“Mike did a fantastic job telling the story. Both Sharon and I found it to be a very interesting and enjoyable documentary. I think it will get legs the more it is exposed as it is well done and fun to watch even if you are not a Texas or Arkansas fan (I had a guy I did not know come up to me in the Aerobic locker room and tell me he saw me in ‘The Big Shootout’).”
Executive Vice President Hunt Consolidated and a member of Nixon’s advance team at the Shoot Out
“Sorry I did not get to meet you last night at the Clinton Library. The film is fabulous. A must see for Texas and Arkansas fans. Yes I was in attendance that day (Dec. 6th). Earlier that year I was at Ft. Polk, Louisiana (National Guard Infantry) at the height of the Viet Nam crisis. Brought back a lot of memories. You all should be proud! Can’t wait for the film festival!”
Director, Arkansas sports Hall of Fame
“There’s gladiators on the battlefield and there’s gladiators on the football field but if we all played football everybody could come home.”
Emmy Award-Winning Actor
“As for the film itself, I was blown away. I was a 10-year-old Orange Blood when the game took place. As a Texas alum, the big plays were exciting to revisit, sure. But as a history buff, seeing the context of what was really going on around the game itself was just as fascinating as Coach Royal’s call of “53 Veer Pass.” Who knew President Nixon was such a solid college football analyst? Arkansas had a magnificent team – maybe one of the best to not win a national title in that era. Texas was charmed that day, after bulldozing everyone in their path during that season. The two teams, coupled with the era and the anniversary of college football’s centennial season, made the event an unforgettable moment in sports history. The film brings the history alive again.”
“We were very impressed with Mike Looney’s work. The attention to Freddie Steinmark was appropriate and topical to the story, but it was Looney’s recognition of Danny Lester near the end of the documentary that I found particularly moving.”
David D. Anderson
Trainer, 1969 Longhorns
“You don’t have to be a Texas or Arkansas fan to appreciate this film. In fact, you don’t even have to be a fan of football in general, because this film is really that powerful. From the original footage, to the soundtrack, to the wide range of characters that make an appearance, ‘The Big Shootout’ depicts the culture of football in 1969 about as vividly as any documentary can.”
Dave Campbell Texas Football Magazine
“I’d say the film was a smash last night at the Clinton library. You guys deserve every accolade you received in AR about the film.”
Director Hot Springs Film Festival
“I saw ‘SHOOTOUT’ in Hot Springs last week where it won the Audience Favorite Award. I was a sophomore at ASU-Beebe in 1969 and it reflects the excitement of that time and more importantly it reflects the time itself. Texas, Arkansas and any football fan will love this!!!!”
Actress and Oscar Nominee
“Mike, I just finished watching your masterpiece, and that term is not used lightly. What a great piece of work. Congratulations.
For those of my age, viewing your work was poignant. I was a junior playing ball at Davidson…..getting ready for the Tangerine Bowl, after winning the Southern Conference for the first and only time in school history…with basketball right around the corner. Vietnam was on everybody’s agenda and nothing I have seen brought those feelings back like your film.”
“An incredible snapshot of a time when all kinds of political/social forces were colliding, and on this day they were the backdrop for a football game that truly did live up to its extreme hype.”
KTCK, Sportsradio 1310 the Ticket
“When I was coming out of the Texas Theatre after the premiere showing of the big shoot out, I was delayed by over an hour because of the viewers that wanted to discuss the movie. And what a great delay it was. People thanked me for being at the University of Arkansas at that time and for the sacrifices I made to hopefully further the civil rights cause at Arkansas. They told me they appreciated what I went through. It meant so much to me. This is an important film and people need to see it. Its sports, historical, social, Civil Rights and political segments will extend its societal/historical impact well beyond its approaching Golden Anniversary.”
Joe Tave, Assistant Dean of Students at Arkansas in 1969
(The first African-American employee of the University of Arkansas)
“My wife is a tough critic and she said the film was great. My daughter, hadleigh, said the Angelica was full and she thought the film was great. Good luck on your next film. Ken Burns needs some competition.”
All Southwest Conference Linebacker, Texas Longhorns, 1969
“Mike Looney has done a remarkable job of telling this story. The year,1969, will be remembered for many things, a man on the moon, Viet Nam, racial unrest and the Game of the Century, Hogs vs Horns. I’m proud of my teammates and proud to have played in such a milestone event. I value my friendships with the Texas players and respect them for their character and class. Thanks, Mike”.
College Football Hall of Fame Member
“You did such a fine job putting this important film together. THE BIG SHOOTOUT was a major source of study for my research in playing legendary football innovator Coach Emory Bellard in the film. My preparation also included books (particularly Wishbone Wisdom), internet sources, video interviews of Coach Bellard, working with a dialect coach, as well as meeting folks who knew him. All of these sources were invaluable assets to me in my attempt to portray the man and his love of the game of football. I must say that I haven’t reread any of the books or looked at any of the interviews since production wrapped in July, but I have watched THE BIG SHOOTOUT since then – several times. What a treat it is to share with family and friends, this wonderfully documented account of one of our nation’s most important sporting events of all time.
Thanks again for the extraordinary effort in putting together THE BIG SHOOTOUT. We have a blast every time we put the DVD in to the player!”
“Big night for THE BIG SHOOT OUT – full house at Clinton Center with several players present who are featured in the doc. For an Arkansas crowd the film is a cathartic experience. For any audience that enjoys a good story well told, it works beautifully – it’s masterfully made and emotionally satisfying. I had a good visit with Mike Looney and Fred Baker — looking forward to seeing them again at Hot Springs Docs.
Gov. Beebe was present and spoke – Clinton sent a classic Clintonian letter. The filmmakers should be proud to add it to the film’s marketing material. Tim Jackson, Radio Personality in Little Rock commenting on showing at Clinton museum on September 5th.”
“The Big Shootout is wonderful! I can’t say enough good things about it! As a loyal Longhorn, as a native of Longview, and as someone who (I’m pretty sure) attended the game as a 14 year old girl, you pressed all the right buttons!”
“We watched this documentary tonight. Was an awesome walk through history for us old timers. It’s not a re-run of the game, although it highlights the big plays. It puts the game in the context of 1969 and what was going on in terms of Vietnam and race relations. The draft lottery had just started and players were really concerned about that. Both teams were all white. Frank Broyles had never spoken publicly about the game until his interviews for this. Also has a lot of Darrel Royal and players from both teams. Texas players were scared from the moment they got off the plane, apparently in Fort Smith. Hog Call was deafening in the stadium. And we only had 45,000 then. I feel really privileged to have been there.
This would make a great Christmas gift for your dad, mother, uncle, grandparents. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Although now the SU (aka”Eeyore” is depressed again), I, on the other hand, am pumped. We have been there and can go there again.
Root Hog or Die!”
From a University of Arkansas football recruiting message board
“I spoke with Mike and we pretty much have the same memory of the event (I did have to jog his memory).
For AstroTurf we wore specially developed shoes. UA had the same kind of shoes. The shoes had red, hard rubber soles with a lot of short cleats that were molded as part of the sole. They worked great on a dry surface. However, on a wet AstroTurf they did not get any traction. We discovered during the season that on a wet AstroTurf surface, our regular shoes with steel-tipped cleats for grass worked great on a wet AstroTurf. The kind that had steel tips on white cleats.
On that day in Fayetteville, the surface wasn’t real wet so in pregame we wore our AstroTurf shoes. As the game got going, the field got wetter and I found myself slipping as did Mike. I cannot tell you what Lester and Freddie were feeling about it. If you look at the field you will notice that it is splotchy looking with large dry areas and large wet areas. It was in the second quarter when I decided that I need ed change to my cleats as I was slipping too much on cuts. Actually, at the start of the game I think we all had our cleats on the bench but when the game got going the equipment managers started throwing all the shoes in duffel bags. I was desperate to change shoes and was looking everywhere for mine when a manager finally told me that they had put them all in 2-3 duffel bags. I started making a fuss and a equipment manager finally produced the duffel bags and emptied them all out on the ground. They all looked exactly alike but we did have our names in them. Mike and I were going through all the shoes, throwing them aside trying to find ours. I have a picture of me and Mike sitting on the bench changing shoes. Of course you cannot tell that the game is going on. I believe that we had to go back in for a series and then came back to the bench to continue the search. Mike and I found our cleats and put them on. I know that I actually changed shoes a couple of times during the game as the conditions changed and I am sure that I played the entire second half with my cleats on. One time after a play I was walking back to the line of scrimmage and Rees was right next to me. I actually asked him if he was slipping on the wet surface cause he had on the same shoes I did. He did not respond.”
Defense Starter for the 1969 Longhorns and son of Coach Mike Campbell
“This is a wonderful documentary. I was 15 when the game was played and being a Razorback fan, I am still heartbroken!!! The way you integrated the game with the things going on in the country in 1969 was brilliant.”
“I thought the documentary was fantastic! The history of what was occurring in the nation – a great great job in putting it together! I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the opportunity to participate. I still can’t believe James Street is gone. James was one of the kind – a great person all the way around. A tremendous loss.”
Terry Don Phillips
Starting Defensive Tackler, 1969 Razorbacks
Recently retired Athletic Director of Clemson
“Your movie is great and I’m thankful I got to see it September 5 at the Clinton library and have my picture with James Street… I was seven years old in 1969 and watched the game with a home made Chuck Dicus jersey on and I taped my football cleats like he did. Can’t wait to get my own copy of the DVD.”
“Thanks for the showing at the Clinton library. I attended The Big Shootout with my father. It was fun to meet some of the participants. I was able to meet James Street and have him autograph my copy of hogs, horns and Nixon’s coming.”
“What a great film in congratulations on winning best documentary at the Hot Springs film Festival. Having Cheered the game, I look forward to seeing this documentary again. Thank you for putting it together. My husband is collecting money from old Razorbacks to honor James Street. What a loss.”
“I truly enjoyed watching the CD about the Texas vs Arkansas football game for the 1969 National Title and learning so much about our country’s history. Believe it or not our brief time with you, followed by the CD, has had a profound impact on our lives.
Among other things, my Uncle Terry (in his late 80’s) called the other night out of the blue and (because I knew he graduated for Texas) I asked him if he remembered the game? ‘Remember it,’ he said, ‘I was at the game that day!!!’ When I talked about all that was happening around the game (protests, race, anti-war, Nixon, etc) he said all he remembered was that ‘Nixon was there.'”
Again, thank you for sharing your life with us for a brief moment in time and helping me see more clearly into the future. The Lord is obviously using you in miraculous ways!!!
Phi Alpha, Brother Keith
“We got the DVD and watched it again. After all these years of watching the game, I realize Greg was a little reserved. He seemed to hold back in the limelight, like he did not run over an hug all of the teammates and stood in the background during the Nixon award. But he used to tell me the stories all the time with such pride.”
Wife of Greg Ploetz who started for the 1969 championship Longhorns
“Mike…your interviews stories where great fun and value in the post viewing. I love the music. The film is an amazing journey from getting these interviews scheduled and in the CAN to the big screen and now to promoting the film. You have a valuable story to share for generations…thanks for involving me in your journey, I appreciate the hearts you have capture!”
“The big shoot out is about as emotionally investing a film that a sports film can be. Every second of game footage is as exciting as I assume that cold day was. The shootout represents the first time that a nation can come together and set aside the images of Vietnam and civil rights to bask in the joy that football brought. The Big Shootout is a must-see for football fans of all ages.”
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football
“Tim and I had the opportunity to watch the 69 Shootout DVD this past weekend — THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IT!! He had been in the stadium for that game with a couple of buddies, seniors in high school. It brought back so many memories for him. I especially enjoyed the “now” interviews and reunion footage, including the comradery among those guys. It was all very well done.
Tim had bought extra copies for our 3 boys, all of whom live out of state, but who are and always will be die-hard Arkansas fans. I know they will enjoy this documentary as well. My compliments on a fine job!”
“Oh my gosh, this is the kind of movie I’ve been wanting to see for years! Football IS life, I’ve always said that, this movie proves it! To take one game, and understand the national importance it has in America’s psyche, is absolutely outstanding! College Football is awesome, thank you for helping us understand that, in a very entertaining, and enjoyable way.”
The King of College Football Game Film
“I received the DVD and had a chance to watch it yesterday. I thought you and your crew did a terrific job of capturing and presenting a great story with accuracy and balance. Loved the depth you shared regarding political and social issues of the day. My sincere thanks for your vision and efforts in producing this documentary.
Starting Monster Back – ’69 Razorbacks and recently retired associate athletic director UCLA
“Thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and sharing stories last night. I appreciate the effort capturing that moment in history. When you play a part, albeit a small one, in such an event, you carry that with you forever. Having it chronicled in such a telling manner makes it particularly poignant.”
Longhorn Team Manager, 1969
“We were at your screening yesterday and really loved your movie. We are all confident that it will strike hot soon – you did a GREAT job. We will spread the word to everyone we know. I am a Longhorn fan by association (my husband and his family bleed burnt orange) and I am a lukewarm football fan, yet I was captivated by your documentary. I wish you the best of luck with it.”
“Mike, congratulations for producing this incredible documentary film. The film opens your eyes to everything going on in 1969, so much more than a football game. This living history is much more interesting than the textbooks. You captured it all.”
Director University of Arkansas – Community College Hope Arkansas
“What a joy it must have been to make this film. I purchased 8 copies, one for each of our children, and I just recommended everyone buy it on my Facebook page. Wonderful, wonderful movie.
“Saw the movie. Loved it. Just loved it.”
“Mike, You are the Ken Burns of archival football… Or maybe he is the Mike Looney of Civil War history…this is truly a masterpiece… Thanks for doing such a full piece on a magic moment in time….I hope all the folks I sent it to enjoy as much as I did…”
Jack L. Baber III
“I had a little quiet time Saturday evening and watched the Big Shootout video…….WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT……!! It was outstanding, had wonderful themes, certainly brought back plenty of memories, and as many about other topics in addition to the game.”
Former Athletic Director, Baylor University
“Saw the Big Shootout at the TX Sports Hall of Fame recently. A surprising story brilliantly told. As a Longhorn fan (who tore up a feather pillow watching the game as a 15-yr old), who would have guessed a classic game on the field would be upstaged by so many compelling story lines. Or that the dignity and pain of the Arkansas players would steal the show from iconic Longhorn heroes.
As an occasional writer and lecturer on Dallas history, I have a sense of the immense investment of vision, time, and effort in this production.
As polished and poignant as the best of the ESPN films series, I hope yours receives the audience and accolades it deserves. Congrats.”
“Randy and I just finished watching TBSO for the first time. You did a fabulous job, Mike!!! We’re sitting here, almost stunned. I’m thinking about Coach Royal talking about the 1964 game where he lost the national championship to Arkansas by 1 point, a game he never quite got over. Randy is lost in his own world, remembering their undefeated season and how, decimated with injuries, they lost the national championship to Notre Dame. Congratulations. You captured the season of our country and that game and the national sadness over Freddie Jo so beautifully. I only wish Coach Royal had been in his prime when you interviewed him. I miss him. Thanks for this beautiful memory, Mike.”
Jenna’s husband, Randy was the starting quarterback for Texas during the 1977 season
“Mike Looney has done it again. He has researched the decade of the 60’s that could rival Tom Hank’s documentary series on CNN. It is astounding to realize all of the issues our country was dealing with when ABC Sports unprecedentedly proposed to Texas and Arkansas to “move” their regular scheduled game to season’s end, gambling to crown a National Champion from the winner of that game. Of course, it was huge bet that both teams would remain undefeated. ABC Sports was right, as this was the Game of the Century.”
Former All Pro Defense Back, Dallas Cowboys
I had given my copy of The Big Shootout to a friend in Austin but I reordered and watched it again this evening. An incredible documentary – way better than most of the 30 for 30 ESPN ones. Part of the reason is the incredible music you have in the film.
Craig R. Stevens, CPA, CFE