CBS Sports partnered with New York City-based agency Versus to produce this seven-minute film about Kenny Washington, the first Black man to play in the NFL in 1946 after owners had secretly agreed in 1933 not to include Black players.
The film, narrated by Oscar-winner Viola Davis, tells the story of how Black players were booted from the league when team owners decided they were “bad for business.” When the Cleveland Rams decided to expand the league and move to Los Angeles, a Black journalist forced the issue when the team was to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, located in the heart of a thriving Black neighborhood.
The story of Kenny Washington needed to be told over multiple time periods, where the story of Black achievement in the Jim Crow era often led to disenfranchisement, separation and exclusion of Black people. With so much narrative to explore, Versus honed in on a uniform visual approach.
Using a unique animation style, Versus brought to life the early days of the NFL. The agency then juxtaposed them with the glamour of Los Angeles by creating a unique illustration style that employed a limited palette of golden sepia tones and a greenish patina of time. By using textures, low frame rates and carefully crafted illustrations, the team managed to create a look that was a conscientious nod to the early magic of Hollywood and film and a great tribute to Kenny Washington.
The film aired in CBS Super Bowl pre-game show on Feb. 7.
Client: CBS Sports
Creative Director/Producer: Peter Radovich, Jr.
Director: Derek Ambrosi
Feature Producers: Ellis Williams, Jelani Rooks, Kayona Ebony Brown
Associate Producers: Yvette Wyatt, Laurie Zelnick
Editor: Derek Ambrosi
Writers: Kayona Ebony Brown, Derek Ambrosi, Peter Radovich, Jr., Ellis Williams, Jelani Rooks
Audio Engineer: Dan O’Sullivan
Chief Creative Officer: Justin Barnes
Executive Producer: Rob Meyers
New Business Director: John Levy
Producer: Rose Canuto
Creative Director: Miguel Hernandez
Animation Director: Claus Cibils
Executive Director: Martín Schurmann
Technical Director: Alberto Hadyar
Art Director: Paula Vidal
Post Producer: Florencia Cruz
Designer / Illustrator: Samuel D’Avila
Designer: Mayra Olaya
Illustrator: Erwin Lorinser, Manuel Fermont, Krissely Perez, Alberto Martinez, Aileen Sbrizza
Lead Animator: Hernan Lindenbaum
Animator: Ariel Pistillo, Josh Earle, Patricio Passarelli