Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Greater opens in theaters this Friday (8/26).

Cast: Chris Severio, Neal McDonough, Leslie Easterbrook, Michael Parks and Nick Searcy/Directed by: David Hunt/Written by: Brian Reindl and David Hunt
Rated PG/Running Time: 2:10

Synopsis (from the film’s website): Brandon Burlsworth is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but was told he wasn’t good enough to play Division I ball. Undeterred, Brandon took a risk and walked on in 1994. Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. The awkward kid who once was an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches, ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched.

Review: There’s something about sports — especially football, boxing and baseball — that seems to inspire film makers to inspire us. This one fits into the football category tread by such memorable films as Knute Rockne All American (1940), Brian’s Song (1971 & 2001) and The Blindside (2009), among countless others.

They story of Brandon Burlsworth takes its place on the field among the “greater” entries in the genre. Told in flashbacks, the story of how grit and determination propelled young Brandon from a fat kid who no one gave a chance of making a college team let alone the big league is more inspiring than a Marie Osmond ad for Nutrisystem.

Less flippantly though, the film is a compelling reflection on the meaning of life — especially when a life of promise is tragically cut short. Chris Severio is vulnerable and strong as Brandon Burlsworth. Neal McDonough is excellent as his older brother Marty who, though he loved his sibling dearly, never expected his football success and was even more stunned by his sudden death. His struggle to make sense of the cruel twist of fate is at the heart of the film.

Through a touch of grace, Marty does eventually come to grips with happened. He would go on to found the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation to help to help other kids overcome challenges in their lives.

It’s all quite moving and Highly recommended.

John W. Kennedy is a writer/development consultant specializing in teleplays, screenplays and novelizations. He can be reached at

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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