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'My All American' Is All About Texas Football

Image via Anthem & Paul Schiff Productions
Actor Finn Wittrock plays Freddie Steinmark in 'My All American.'

From Texas Standard:

If you're naming off great sports films, "Rudy" and "Hoosiers" are probably high on that list.

A new film called "My All American" is coming out this fall. Written by the same screenwriter of those films, Angelo Pizzo, this time his focus is Texas football – more specifically Freddie Steinmark.

Steinmark was a standout University of Texas football player back in the late '60s. He helped lead the team to a national championship in 1969, in what was dubbed the “Game of the Century.”

"This story had so much attention from the country that we were compelled – not just by our editors but the public. They wanted to know every detail we could get," says former UPI reporter Preston Kirk.

More than 40 years after the national championship – even at Steinmark's alma mater – only a few students know any details of his story. "My All American" shows the details are worth remembering: the fight to join a college team, the triumph of the big game, and a post-game drama that’s a real tear jerker.

“Coming in as a freshman you learn two things: You learn the fight song and you learn the story of Freddie Steinmark,” says former Longhorn quarterback Case McCoy.

For McCoy, who has a small part in the film, "My All American" makes him feel he’s keeping Steinmark’s legacy alive. “When you ran out of the tunnel before a game, you touched Freddie Steinmark’s picture, and the words around him of courage and pride,” he says.

For this film, "Rudy" and "Hoosiers" writer Angelo Pizzo also took on the role of director.

"I didn’t have the grand plan to be a director," he says. "I just wanted the opportunity to do the movie in my mind that I transcribed to the page and see it all the way through to the end."

“My All American” is similar to “Rudy” in that it's about an undersized football player with enormous heart. But Rudy wasn’t a football star; Steinmark was. Pizzo says another big difference between the two films is just how “true” the true story is.

“Generally when you see stories that are supposedly based on a true story, you’re lucky if they’re 50 percent true," Pizzo says. "You have to compress and composite characters, and in 'Rudy' I did a lot of that.”

Pizzo says “Rudy” was about 75 percent true, while “My All American” is more like 90 percent. That’s because backers, including third generation UT alum and executive producer Bud Brigham, insisted on it.

“This had so much depth and so much richness," Brigham says. "You couldn’t have made anything up that would have been any better."

Pizzo says one challenge of this film was just how great a guy Steinmark was. He wasn’t a flawed character who overcomes his faults.

“I tried and I tried. I couldn’t find anybody who had anything bad to say about him," Pizzo says. "He didn’t miss class, he didn’t miss going to mass everyday. He was as perfect a human being as I’ve ever come across."

But this film isn’t just about a perfect human being. It’s about a young man who faced uncommon challenges – especially off the football field.

And here’s the difficulty of telling a true story: anyone who cares to research it can find out the ending, but Pizzo encourages you not to Google the details.

“I just think it’s a more interesting and emotional journey if you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says.

“My All American” is in theaters November 13.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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