What to (and not to) watch this weekend: McEnroe vs Borg at Wimbledon; greased palms at FIFA; a badly scripted NFL underdog story

Written by Nihal Koshie
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Updated: July 9, 2022 9:39:34 pm

Three recommendations worth your time featuring McEnroe and Borg, FIFA's dirty secrets and American Underdog, a film on the real-life story of Kurt Warner.

The rivalry and bromance of McEnroe and Borg

McEnroe-Borg: Fire and Ice

You Tube (HBO Sports) 1 hour and one minute

The maverick and talented Nick Krygios is in his first Wimbledon final and what better time for a look back at John McEnroe, called the ‘superbrat’ for his on-court antics. But the story of McEnroe is incomplete without Borg. The documentary captures the rivalry and the friendship, which slowly built into a bromance after their careers ended. The 1980 and 1981 Wimbledon finals, the first won by Borg and the second by McEnroe features prominently yet what adds to the value of the film are the candid interviews of the two players. When Borg decided to sell his Wimbledon trophies, McEnroe worried about his great rival-turned-friend called him up to check if he was in need of money. “I just didn’t want him to look bad and people take potshots at him. It could go way back to when he took me under his wing at a really young age… I said if you are really going to actually sell them, make sure I get the 1980 one, because I really should have had that one,”McEnroe says. When Borg retired early, it affected McEnroe, who needed his great rival to make his tennis complete, to such an extent that he started feeling empty inside. There is lovely footage of the two returning to play on the Masters Tour and also them back on Centre Court for a retelling of their great matches. The McEnroe-Borg rivalry latest just a few years, unlike the current Federer-Nadal-Djokovic golden era, but the matchup between the Swede with icy nerves (when he was young Borg had as bad a tempter as McEnroe) and the fiery McEnroe had captured the world’s imagination.

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Greased palms of the men who run football

Fifa’s dirty secrets

YouTube, 30 minutes

On Friday, former world and European football chiefs Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were acquitted of corruption by a Swiss court. In this revealing BBC documentary, released in November 2010, investigative journalist Andrew Jennings looks into the vote-selling and corruption scandals at FIFA.
Jennings, who passed away recently, was one of the world’s most persistent reporters while trying to uncover corruption in sports governance. He didn’t shy away from asking uncomfortable questions at press conferences, as seen in this documentary, where he investigated allegations against FIFA officials who had a vote in selecting World Cup hosts and confronted them about the corruption allegations.

An inspirational NFL story done the wrong way

American Underdog

Netflix: 1 hour, 52 minutes

The last film I saw Zachery Levi in was Shazam!, a DC Comics superhero who can transform from a teen into an adult by saying “Shazam”. Watching the 41-year-old Levi play a bench-warmer college quarterback in American Underdog, a biopic on former NFL Super Bowl winner Kurt Warner, made me think if he could magically reverse his age by Shazaming back to his teenage years. What was the casting director even thinking? In some scenes, I could see Levi’s character, who is supposedly fresh out of college, with a white stubble. The casting was so unconvincing and the film dragging itself to the endzone made me feel that I have aged considerably in the 1 hour 52 mins runtime.

The real-life story of Kurt Warner is inspirational. Here is a guy who went to one of the lower-tier colleges in America, where the prospects of being drafted into the NFL are virtually nonexistent, but still dreamt of making it to the big leagues and winning MVP. Heck, he wasn’t even a regular starter for his college team. However, a surprise call from Green Bay Packers offering him a tryout gives him hope. It doesn’t end well though. He comes back home and finds a job at a local supermarket to support himself and his girlfriend, who has two kids from a previous marriage. With Warner’s prospects of making it big diminishing, he has to make some difficult choices. How he overcomes these odds make up for the rest of the story.

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