Last we wrote about Canadian filmmaker Charles Officer (Nurse.Fighter.Boy), it was to announce the stateside availability of his Harry Jerome project, a feature-length documentary titled Mighty Jerome, which documents the rise, fall and redemption of the Canadian track and field star, and one of that country’s greatest athletes.
That was over the summer.
I just learned that Officer’s next project, is complete, and aired on Canada’s TSN channel last week Friday.
It’s also a documentary centered on a sports figure – this time, Chuck Ealey – titled Stone Thrower: The Chuck Ealey Story.
The film tells the revealing and emotional story of how gifted Ohio-born quarterback, Chuck Ealey found refuge in Canada and the CFL in the face of racial intolerance in the United States. Ealey, who went 35-0 at the quarterback position throughout his time at the University of Toledo, signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1972 and led his team to a Grey Cup victory in his rookie season, making him the first black quarterback to do so.
He never got a chance to play quarterback in the NFL – primarily because of his race. But he went north instead and made history.
Director Officer said in an interview:
“There are places around this country that people can come to and not be afraid and they’ll be respected to a degree more so than they’ve experienced… They’ll be given the opportunity and they’ll be given the benefit of the doubt…It’s pretty telling and it’s not just in sports.”
And by the way, as I learned, Ealey’s journey north has tangible connections to the Underground Railroad that led freed slaves to Canada during the Civil War.
Stone Thrower: The Chuck Ealey Story is the second of eight documentaries to debut on TSN as part of the network’s Engraved On A Nation series, Commissioned by Bell Media.
I couldn’t find a trailer, but here’s a Ealey’s daughter, who wrote a book about her father, talking about him.