When gifted black running back Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) joins the Chicago Bears in 1965, he finds himself competing against a less talented but equally determined white player named Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Soon, this potential rivalry turns into a close bond, as Piccolo helps Sayers weather an injury, and Sayers later returns the favor when Brian is stricken with cancer.
Based on Gale Sayers's autobiography, this indelible made-for-TV movie tells the true story of a friendship born through football that ends tragically. Coming off his success in "The Godfather," Caan is terrific as the spirited Piccolo, whose gutsy yet graceful attitude inspires Sayers (played with quiet, rookie confidence by Williams) to achieve his full potential. The craggy, always reliable Jack Warden co-stars as Bears Coach George Halas, and Shelly Fabares (from TV's "Donna Reed Show") is also solid as Brian's steadfast wife, Joy. This poignant, inspirational tale unfolds over just 75 minutes, but keep the Kleenex handy, as few remain unmoved by the end.