Standing Room Only

GREATER - A Spoiler-free Review

Aug 24, 2016

stars-35_sm.png | Peggy Kim

What is it about football movies that we just can’t seem to get enough of…it’s not just the drama of the game on the field, it’s what gets played out in the innermost parts of the human soul. GREATER is about the incredible true story of Brandon Burlsworth, who just might be the greatest walk-on in the history of college football.

Burlsworth's dream was to play for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Every kid is allowed to dream, even if he is slow, awkward, pudgy, and not exactly in prime condition at 300lbs. But, Burlsworth was determined and 'burl-headed,' as some might say. He graduated from high school, where he was an All-State selection, and joined the Razorbacks as a walk-on. He worked hard, prayed hard, got into fighting form, and there was no stopping him. Known for his work ethic and integrity both on and off the field, he won over all his naysayers, and in his sophomore year, earned a scholarship and a starting position as a right guard on the offensive line.

Burlsworth was named All-American in 1998, was a 2x First-team All-SEC (1997, 1998) and the first Razorback football player to complete a master's before playing his final game. He was the pride of Arkansas. Shortly after graduating, he was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft. Burlsworth's future looked bright.

Then, tragedy struck. Just 11 days after being drafted, 22 year-old Brandon Burlsworth was killed in a car accident. This is when faith really gets tested. After all this, why would God let this happen? It's so unfair. Why do bad things happen to good people? These are the questions that Brandon's older brother, Marty, wrestles with.

Burlsworth was the unlikeliest of heroes, the longest of long shots, an impossibility yet becoming possible…and that is true Americana. Chris Severino delivers a solid performance as the young Burlsworth. Neal McDonough anchors the film, bringing heart, nuance and depth in his portrayal of Brandon’s older brother and father figure. GREATER is great because the story is true and it is skillfully told. You can’t make this stuff up. The truth of Brandon's life and story is what uplifts the spirit and brings hope to us all.

GREATER opens in theaters this Friday, August 26th.

Category: film

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