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ESPN's new documentary '51 Dons is showing on multiple channels through Wed. 2/19. full schedule »

ESPN Documentary: '51 Dons

51 Dons documentary titlingThis is the story of the greatest team you never heard of…
ESPN presents ’51 Dons, the true story of a time and a team that should never be forgotten. A band of brothers who stood together, refusing to allow racism to do what no opponent could.

In 1951, future Pro Football Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti, Bob St. Clair and Ollie Matson powered the University of San Francisco (USF) to a sparkling 9-0 record. The Dons’ first-ever bowl appearance would allow the Jesuit school to test its mettle against elite competition – and the payout would save their cash-strapped program

As the wins mounted, the Orange Bowl Committee told the media they were “favoring a California representation.” Behind the scenes, they told USF something else entirely. The Dons would be invited to Miami under one condition – they take the field without their two African-American stars, Ollie Matson and Burl Toler. The Dons refused.

ESPN presents ’51 Dons, the true story of a time and a team that should never be forgotten. A band of brothers who stood together, refusing to allow racism to do what no opponent could.

Legendary singer Johnny Mathis, childhood friend of Ollie Matson and Burl Toler, narrates ‘51 Dons. This one-hour documentary features interviews with players from the team, including Bob St. Clair, Bill Henneberry, Bob Springer, Ralph Thomas and Dick Columbini, family members, University of San Francisco President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., Athletic Director Scott Sidwell and longtime play-by-play announcer Pat Olson. ’51 Dons will air for the first time on ESPN Sunday, Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. pacific, and will run again on the following dates and ESPN affiliates:

  • Sunday, 2/9 — ESPN2 (10:00pm Eastern, 7:00pm Pacific)
  • Monday, 2/10 — ESPNU (11:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Pacific)
  • Tuesday, 2/11 — ESPNU (4:00pm Eastern, 1:00pm Pacific)
  • Tuesday, 2/11 — ESPNU (1:00am Eastern, 10:00pm Pacific)
  • Wednesday, 2/12 — ESPNU (5:30pm Eastern, 2:30pm Pacific)
  • Friday, 2/14 — ESPNU (1:00am Eastern, 10:00pm Pacific)
  • Saturday, 2/15 — ESPNU (8:30am Eastern, 5:30am Pacific)
  • Sunday, 2/16 — ESPN2 (8:00pm Eastern, 5:00pm Pacific)
  • Monday, 2/17 — ESPNU (7:00pm Eastern, 4:00pm Pacific)
  • Tuesday, 2/18 — TSN Canada (3:00pm Eastern, 12:00pm Pacific)
  • Wednesday, 2/19 — ESPNU (1:00pm Eastern, 10:00am Pacific)
  • Monday, 2/24 — TSN Canada (3:00pm Eastern, 12:00pm Pacific)